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2014 Awards
Plan Toys 50 Unit Blocks
(Plan Toys $90 Score:)

Fifty unit blocks makes a good place to start with basic gear for play. This handsome set comes with twelve shapes and no premade directions or suggestions. These are the most fundamental open-ended play materials that invite creative thinking and math concepts. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Crayola Sketch Wizard
(Crayola $25 Score:)


We were excited when we took this out of the box. Although we are usually not fond of toys that are about tracing, this seemed a different kind of technology than tracing paper, since it suggested we could trace 3-D objects, as well as photos and pictures. Well you can and we did, but the results were mixed. Finding the right sized objects that fit can turn into a Goldilocks deal with things that are too big, too small and rarely just right. We also found that you need a steady hand and have to be very careful not to move the paper or you end up with something with extremely blurry edges. As for photos copying, that may be interesting, but not entirely satisfying. Photos that we tried to copy into line drawings looked weird. All in all, we have to say this is definitely not for young kids. Our ten-year old tester was pretty frustrated and disappointed, as were several adults who tried it. It may be interesting to some as a way of exploring drawing, though if they want something exacting, tracing paper may be a better bet. 8 & up

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Crayola My Virtual Fashion Show
(Crayola $19.99 Score:)

Wow! Young fashion designers can create fabulous fashions in their 20-page Fashion Sketch Book by coloring the front and back images of clothes in the book. The kit comes with 12 colored pencils. Next, they take a photo of their designs with their "device" (meaning smart phones or i-pad) and use the My Virtual Fashion Show app to customize the model’s look and accessories. Got it all set? Now kids can watch their original fashions on the runway as the 3-D model walks and spins to show front and back of their high style creations. Their creations can be saved on the device to view again and again. Instead of giving over your device, most of the designing is done on paper and then viewed on the device. Now, this is technology they gotta love, if they are into fashion! They say 6 & up. We'd say slightly older girls will be using this as more than a coloring book. Older girls will be able to add the more design elements for impressive results. Our ten year old tester said this was the most exciting new electronic art toy of the year. We have to agree.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
Plan Toys Numbers 1-10
(Plan Toys $20 Score:)

Twenty wooden tiles for playing around with numbers. One set from 1-10 has numerals carved out that kids can trace to get a sense of the shape for writing. Turn them over and count the ten indented dots. The second set of ten tiles has the number word on one side and matching number of painted objects on the flip side. Use these for playing matching games of numerals and objects, number words and numerals or many other variations. Use them also for sequencing from 1-10. These are marked for 2 & up, but really are more appropriate for 3-6.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
Plan Toys Fruit and Veggie Domino Game
(Plan Toys $29.99 Score:)

Twenty-eight colorful dominoes are ready for matching games that require no reading or counting. Matching is by the seven fruits or veggies that kids will soon be able to know and name. But watch out—there are green pears and green peppers. Want to bend the rules and make it a color matching game—why not? A good pre-reading game for older 2's and up. With indented fronts and backs these are easy to grasp. Marked 2 & up.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
Crayola Light Designers Widescreen Light Designer
(Crayola $44.99 Score:)

A large light-up drawing board that comes with six gel markers that glow when the light is turned on. Kids can draw, doodle and even write letters on the LED screen. It has seven different effects that add interest and requires 3 AA batteries. There is a panel kickstand for standing the screen into a display. Since the board is big, it will make sense for playing school, signs for play restaurants, etc. It may also be a good way to motivate kids who need to work on shaping letters, and much more fun for practice runs with the weekly spelling list or math problems.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
Plan Toys Musical Set
(Plan Toys $50 Score:)

Beautifully crafted on a curve of smooth wood, this set includes xylophone, cymbal and guiro. It also comes with color-coded music for older preschoolers who may be able to follow the sequence from left to right. The sound is muted, which may be welcome in a small apartment and a welcome change from the often over the top sound of electronic musical toys. We know some parents and kids want their toys to be louder than this while others are happy to find something muted. This ia pricey toy, so try before you buy to be sure it suits you. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Spot it! Disney Pixar Words
(Blue Orange Games $13 Score:)

Take your choice of licenses: Disney Princesses or Pixar, whatever appeals to your beginning reader, here is a fun way to develop matching skills as well as sight word recognition. There is only one matching pair on any two cards and you have to be fast to be first to spot it! Kids identify the matching words pairs or word and image matches. A fun choice for 2-8 players ages 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
Spot It! Disney Planes Alphabet Game
(Blue Orange Games $14 Score:)

Take your choice of licenses: Planes, Sofia the First, or Frozen, whatever appeals to your preschooler, this is a fun way to learn their letters by finding matching letters or images on a pair of cards. Kids identify the letter pairs by name and shape so this is a playful way to reinforce letter recognition. There are three ways to play with the 55 cards that fit neatly back in their round tin for take along ease. There is also a preschool game for matching numbers and shapes. Marked 3 & up, we think it is probably a better bet for 4-5's.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Tickety Toc Chime Time
(Wonder Forge $30 Score:)

Fans of Tickety Toc will like trying to make it around the game board all the way to Chime Time, collecting rewards along the way. Of course, they will have to find missing tools on the playing board, pretend to be a fish or even dance like a robot. With each turn they get to turn the cog wheels on the unusual playing board and doing that moves the clock that much closer to Chime Time! Winner is the one with the most tiles. No game is exactly the same. 2-4 players ages 3 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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