Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Construction Toys

 


2014 Award
LEGO Friends Stephanie's Beach House
(Lego Systems, Inc. $39.99 Score:)

Stephanie and her friend Kate are enjoying the summer at the modern yellow two-story beach house with pink, white and lavender trim. The house has big open windows to catch the breeze and all sorts of furniture and accessories for enjoying life at the beach. This is a perfect miniature setting for dramatic play, but first kids need to use their fine motor skills, problem solving, and stick-to-it power to build it.
A 369-piece set that will take time to build and then provide hours of play. We know there are some who feel the Friends are too gender specific, but in fact, we like the active roles the Friends play with their jobs and entertainment. If it brings girls to the construction toy aisle we say go for it! That's the way to help them develop dexterity, patience, spatial skills and imagination. 6-12

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

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2014 Award
LEGO Friends Heartlake News Van
(Lego Systems, Inc. $24.99 Score:)


Emma has a job at the Heartlake TV station and a big story just broke in the village. She and Andrew, who acts as camera person are out in the News Van getting the story. Builders can decide what the story is and play that out, but first, they have to build the van and the anchors' desk, as well. A 278-piece set comes with all the big and little pieces needed to get the scoop on the latest events in Heartlake. We know there are some who feel the Friends are too gender specific, but in fact, we like the active role the Friends play with their jobs. If it brings girls to the construction toy aisle we say go for it! That's the way to help them develop dexterity, patience, spatial skills and imagination. 6-12

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

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2014 Award
LEGO Mia’s Lemonade Stand
(Lego Systems, Inc. $9.99 Score:)

Who wouldn't love a glass of lemonade on these hot days of summer? Mia's stand has all kinds of accessories to squeeze the lemons, pour cool drinks and she even has cookies to sell. She also has a motor scooter that can carry some of her supplies and a safety helmet to wear on her way to work. A 112-piece set that will keep hands busy to build and enjoying as a mini- setting for pretend play. A good choice for developing dexterity, patience, and imagination. Makes a nice birthday party gift--without breaking the bank. 5-12

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

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2014 Award
LEGO Friends Emma's Lifeguard Post
(LEGO $9.99 Score:)

Just in time to keep the Lego Friends safe at the beach! Emma has her binoculars, whistle, swim fins and flags on her Lifeguard Post so she can tell swimmers if it is safe or not to go into the water. A good choice for developing dexterity, patience, and imagination. A 72-piece build, with Emma and her accessories, that makes a nice birthday party gift--without breaking the bank. 5-12

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

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2014 Award
Lincoln Logs Little Prairie Farmhouse
(Hasbro $36.99 Score:)

Fans of Little House on the Prairie will no doubt like having this building set for dramatic play. It includes a pioneer woman, 2 horse figures, 101 logs plus colorful plastic roof, door, window, corral gate and other small accessories. For generations Lincoln Logs were pretty gender specific products aimed at boys. Now packaged in a Pink lidded container, this is clearly being marketed to girls. Though many will feel this girlie look insulting, the fact is getting girls involved with building is still the best hope for developing spatial skills that traditionally have been a 'for boys' domain. Getting girls into the world of STEM needs to begin early and if pink will do it--we say--go for it!

 

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2013 Award
Deluxe Roominate
(Roominate $49.99 Score:)

Welcome to a new world of doll houses! It's a doll house for kids to design, build and electrify. This one is less about interior decoration and more about engineering. A terrific concept for getting girls involved with problem solving and spatial skills, and building circuits. The deluxe kit comes with a light and motor and tons of building pieces and craft materials. Elizabeth, our 8-year old tester, LOVES Roominate. Her mom reports, "She has created some really cool rooms--and I love that it's so open-ended. She loved hooking up the battery, doing the wiring - and using the paper to design the wallpapers. It's a great toy for girls because it encourages building, electrical and engineering skills and isn't too "girly." I would say that I think age 6 is probably too young for independent play with Roominate. At age 8,  Elizabeth read and followed the directions and had lots of ideas about what she wanted to build and how to do it. "

The company says 6, we agree with Elizabeth's mom and suggest you save this for 8's and up.

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

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2013 Award
Squigz
(Fat Brain Toys $29.99 - 49.95 Score:)

A fun new construction toy that will stick onto any smooth surface thanks to the suction cup designs on the various shapes. They’re made of silicone and come in bright colors. We had a fun time building with them on the counter top, throwing them on to the ground to see which would stick to the wood floor and then throwing them at the wall (that was harder than we thought it would be). Comes in sets of 24 or 50. Marked 3 & up, but more like 5 & up.

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

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2013 Award
Tinker Toy Pink Building Set
(KNEX $49.99 Score:)

If you have a girl who's not interested in building, this all pink 150 piece set may do the trick. We know that building helps develop important math, visual discrimination,  and problem solving skills - so it's very important that girls have this type of play experience.  Today's Tinker Toys are somewhat different from what you may remember. These new sets from KNEX are all plastic. They have the same rods and spools like the old sets, but now they have really neat bendy rods and faces that make them even more fun.

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

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2013 Award
LEGO City Grand Prix Truck
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

While Star Wars often gets the lionshare of requests from our LEGO builders, some of their more traditional trucks got rave reviews from our testers. This Grand Prix Truck received high marks because it was an interesting build. The truck opens in different ways to make room for the Gran Prix car (which "you also get!!").  With 315 pieces this is a satisfying challenge for a beginning builder. The box says 5 & up -- most fives will need assistance, which is fine.  In addition to the truck and the racing car, the set comes with three minifigures so there's lots of room here for pretend play after the building is complete.

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

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2013 Award
Tinkertoy Super Building Set
(KNEX $44.99 Score:)

We love this new, satisfying set of Tinkertoys with 150 pieces.  These plastic Tinkertoys are better than the old school versions because the set includes bendable pieces in addition to the more traditional spools and straight rods that allow for more interesting builds. There are suggested 15 builds, but the big appeal of Tinkertoys from our point of view is that they can be used as an open-ended building set. Our testing parents loved the sturdy box with lid that can be used for storage. The set also includes panels and faces for added fun. Tinkertoys are also available in pink - which we recommend if it's the only way the girls in your life will build.

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

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