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Product Type: Toys
Award: Platinum
Age: Preschoolers
Review Year: 2012

 


2012 Award
Hit the Hat
(International Playthings $19.99 Score:)

There's a lot of pre-reading involved in this triple attribute game. Players use three dice to determine the color, pattern and shape of the hat they must find. Players use the suction cupped mallets to find the hat with those three attributes. The first to hit six hats and take 6 hats is the winner. It is possible that on your turn the hat you match is already taken. That's part of the big lesson - you win some and you loose some. This is marked for 4 & up. We'd say the three attributes at once may be a little challenging for young fours, but this is a fun way for pre-readers to sharpen their skills at seeing several attributes at a time. There are 35 hats, 4 slammers and three dice.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Honeycomb
(International Playthings $19.99 Score:)

A honeycomb shaped playing board mimics nature but gives strategy gaming a new look. A spinner tells what color comb you must push out of the honeycomb - but watch out! Be careful not to let the bee on top fall! It's a game that requires dexterity as well as strategy. Loading the honeycomb also calls for patience and thinking. Marked for 4 & up, this is more like a 5-6 & up game. A good one for family fun.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Awards
Little Hare Puppet
(Folkmanis $12.95 Score:)

This small hand puppet will not overwhelm the hand of a small child. It looks amazingly lifelike - not the usual pastel Easter bunny. A lot more like the ones in the garden that nibble, nibble. Also in the same collection, a Little Raccoon and a Little Chipmunk that would make good companions in scale and authentic looks. For extra dramatic moments, add the swampy green Little Alligator, a scruffy looking jungle Little Lion or for woodland adventure add the Little Bear.

SNAP Adaption: for kids who cannot manipulate hand puppets, put them on top of cans or plastic bottles that can be slid around a table top. This group of puppets is made smaller than many and may be easier to use on the hand or over containers.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
LEGO Fun with Vehicles
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

Kids love to build toys that work and this 525 piece set comes with mechanics and all the parts needed to build five vehicles. These are building plans for building and assortment of racing cars, tow truck, flatbed, jeep and convertible. The set includes 2 male mini-figures, wheels, tools and color-coded basic elements
This set is marked for 4+, but for those with limited dexterity, this may be a better choice for 5's and 6's. The step-by-step plans are clear, but younger kids will need help in learning how to "read" the drawings.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Kid O Plane
(Kid O $19 Score:)

Pick your favorite color or buy the fleet - blue, red or green. These chunky 8" X 9" planes are uncomplicated enough for toddlers to scoot around with on their knees or lift in flight. The appealing planes roll smoothly and have propellers that turn only if your toddler makes it happen. Fun for crawlers as well as beginning walkers as they begin to enjoy early pretend play. 1 & up.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Award
Snug as a Bug in a Rug
(Peaceable Kingdom $20 Score:)

A clever, fast, and easy-to-learn game that is played cooperatively. Put all the bug playing pieces on top of the rug. Players take turns spinning the spinner to find out what color bug they should remove and put under the rug. Once there is a color that cannot be found (this happens about half way through) you have to put a big grey stinkbug on the rug. Now the attribute that players have to find and remove changes from colors to big or little eyes. Watch out! You want to get rid of all the bugs before a second stink bug has to be added to the rug. The object is to get rid of all the bugs before all three stinkbugs are on the rug! Changing attributes calls for some flexible thinking.  A fun game for developing color, shape, and simple counting skills.  3-6

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
CitiBlocs Glow in the Dark Blocks
(Citiblocs $29.99 Score:)

70 Glow in the dark and 30 natural blocks come in this new set of blocks. If you expose them to light for 10 minutes they will glow for over 40 minutes. These are fun to use separately or as additions to other building sets. We can report that they do work and add a new kind of sensory dimension to building fun. Build before bedtime and there is a nightlight when the overhead light is turned off. Also new this season, a set of Neon color Citiblocs.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Mini Corolline
(Corolle $17.99 Score:)

This collection is now celebrating its tenth anniversary and is still a huge hit with our testers. You won't know which to pick from this group of 8" blond, brunette, Asian, and African American dolls. Each comes with a stylish outfit and with plenty of long hair for brushing. New for 2012, an adorable brunette with a pink hair band and floral dress.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
American Girl Bitty Twins Multicultural Collection
(American Girl $95 Score:)

One of best collections of multicultural dolls ever. We are also thrilled that there are boy dolls (often very hard to find) included in this updated collection of twin dolls that include Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, Asian sets of twins. The attention to detail for these contemporary twins is nothing less than you would expect from American Girl. You can select your own twins on line- also very clever. New for this season, new clothes for the dolls and matching clothes for kids.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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