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Product Type: Toys
Award: Gold
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Review Year: 2013

 

 
2013 Awards
Eric Carle Wooden Magnetic Letters Uppercase
(Mudpuppy Press $17.99 Score:)

A handsome set of forty wooden letters with Eric Carle's colorful patterns on one side and magnetic backing on the reverse. Stored in a snap-shut container that is shaped like a milk carton, this can be used for knowing and naming the letters games as well as sound games and spelling. There is also a lower case set

Learning letter names and sounds just got to be more playful with these magnetic letters. Introduce the letters of their name first.Declare today with a single letter and feature things to eat that day that start with that sound. Go on a hunt for other things in the house that start with that sound. Bake cookies in that shape.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
International Playthings Calico Critters Supermarket
(International Playthings $60 Score:)

Our brother/ sister tester team really loved all the details in this super elaborate supermarket. They spent hours putting the merchandise on display and then hours more playing pretend games. It comes with over 100 pieces including fruits, vegetables, bread, fish, canned food, drinks, cookies, ice cream, shopping cart, check-out counter with cash register, display stands, and more. However, like other sets in this collection, it does not come with critters, though they are shown on the packaging. So, be sure to add some critters for their dramatic play. Marked 3 & up, but we think older children will appreciate all the tiny pieces even more. Our testers were 6 & 8 and not too old for these settings.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Ravensburger Robot 80-piece Puzzle
(Ravensburger $8.99 Score:)

Our 6-year old tester liked the challenge of this 80-piece puzzle with small pieces that come together to make a 14 X 10 inch picture of colorful robots and kids building them. He found the images of the many robots appealing and worth the struggle. It helps to have some strategy skills for putting the frame together and fitting some of the robots together and then assembling the whole. That was his way of coping with so many small pieces. He also liked the easy seal baggie it comes in with the image of the puzzle. This is one of a new series that includes cats and a farm scene. These would make good stocking stuffers for big stockings, or a gift for grab bag gifts. But, be forewarned: the package says 4 & up, but most 4's will find this too difficult.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Plan Toys Fraction Fun
(Plan Toys $17.99 Score:)

Introduce preschoolers to fractions in a playful way with this handsome wooden puzzle. Whole, halves, thirds, and quarters are put together on this slightly curved two-sided puzzle board. One side features classic geometric shapes; the reverse invites exploration of how to use the shapes in new ways. 

SNAP: A good concrete way to reinforce fractions. To follow up: Declare a day as Halves Day... use sandwiches cut in halves, fruit cut in halves, etc. Declare another day as Quarters Day and serve foods cut to match.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Calico Critters Lakeside Lodge
(International Playthings $60 Score:)

A small summer house of logs with an orange roof; perfect for vacation living. Instead of beds there are two hammocks and a loft with ladder. It has a raised entry and a terrace with a hot tub, plus a clever little upstairs balcony--just right for critters to use for viewing the great outdoors. In fact, this small house might be just the right scale as a dollhouse to keep at a summer cottage. Although it is shown with furniture and critters on the box, they are not included, but sold separately. The Lodge can also be combined with the new Treehouse, making a miniature setting of grand proportions.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Calico Critters Ice Cream Truck
(International Playthings $35 Score:)

Get ready for soft ice cream and scoops of the regular kind, too. We don't see any good humor pops or fudgicals, but maybe they don't know about them at Cloverleaf Corners. Our brother/sister testers loved the working soft ice cream machine. They spent many happy hours puttiing the stickers on and playing to sell yummy treats once they got the shop all set up. Like other settings in this line the critters are not included, although they are shown on the packaging. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Calico Critters Border Collie Family
(International Playthings $22.99 Score:)

Mama, Papa, brother and sister Border Coolies are done up with faces in crisp black and white markings. Also new this season, an Outback Koala Family. Mama is carrying the newest little one in a soft fabric backpack while their toddler size child is able to walk along with Papa. These are charming posable figures to use as props for the Calico Critter settings or for pretend play with blocks and other mini-settings.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
North American Bear Dolly Pockets Wizard of Oz
(North American Bear Co. $24.99 Score:)

Dressed in a blue checked dress with three pockets that hold the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow finger puppets, an all fabric Dorothy is ready for acting out the whole classic story. Dorothy has long brown pigtails tied up in two bunches with red ribbons. Her features are stitched on and her dress is sewn on. A good choice for language development and recalling the sequence of the story from beginning to end. Try sharing the story telling to begin with.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
North American Bear Dolly Pockets Goldilocks
(North American Bear Co. $24.99 Score:)

Dressed in a pink and calico dress with three pockets that hold the Mama, Papa and Baby Bear finger puppets, an all fabric Goldilocks is ready for acting out the whole classic story. Goldie has long blonde curls tied up in two bunches. Her features are stitched on and her dress is sewn on. A good choice for language development and recalling the sequence of the story from beginning to end. Try sharing the story telling to begin with.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Gamewright Skunk Bingo
(Gamewright $15.99 Score:)

A matching game with a twist, or should we say with a log where skunks may hide! Players try to be the first to fill a bingo card. On your turn you spin and take as many playing cards as the spinner says. You put each card into the plastic log, through a narrow slot. As cards are added, cards come out the other end of the log. Player can place the expelled cards on their playing board. If the space with the matching animal is filled, the card can be taken by another player. But watch out! If a skunk card  is pushed out of the log all the other cards go back into the playing pile. This is a matching game for preschoolers although playing each round can take quite a long time. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013.

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