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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Puzzles

 


2012 Award
Nat Geo Wild Puzzles
(Uncle Milton $5.99 & up Score:)

Our testers gave high marks to this new collection of puzzles from Nat Geo Wild. We tested three different types of puzzles in the line: Panorama Puzzles that feature Penguins, Lions or Ring-Tailed Lemurs. This particular puzzle comes with three separate puzzles that you then connect to create a satisfying 34" x 15" puzzle.  The fact that you're working on separate puzzles makes this more accessible to younger children.  We also recommend the African Lion - contains 100 pieces  that creates a 12" x 9" puzzle.  We found the lion particularly challenging-- there are many dark pieces that take some time to figure out.  In otherwords, these are perfect for doing together-- but will likely be too frustrating to most younger school-aged kids. Even more gifty, are the two tin sets that come with three puzzles, each with 150 pieces. We tested the Big Cats Deluxe Puzzle collection, but there is also a Majestic Mamals set as well that features a Gorilla, Dolphin, and Elephant.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Award
Ceaco Life on the Farm Floor Puzzle
(Ceaco Kids $13.99 Score:)

A giant 2 X 3 foot floor puzzle features a cow and calf on one side and a farm scene with tractor and farm critters on the other side. There are 24 big pieces that are ideal for beginners. Unlike adult puzzlers, kids like to do their puzzles many times in order to gain mastery over the challenge. The two sided idea is an added value that will give the purchase extra play value. You'll need to introduce the concept that there are two sides and perhaps sit with your child to help turn the puzzle pieces right side up to start. Giving beginners strategies for putting together the outside frame is also helpful to build their confidence as well as their competence. Marked for 3 & up. This may make better sense for your 4 & up.

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

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2012 Award
Hape Prism Puzzle
(HaPe $19.99 Score:)

Making patterns of your own or following the patterns in their booklet, this geoboard involves a bit of geometry and art. It also helps children develop dexterity as they handle the small wooden tiles.  The 28 triangles and 28 trapezoids can be placed in endless designs in the wooden tray. Happily, it comes with a cloth bag for storing all the little pieces. A word of warning, the pieces are small and probably too small for the age marked on the package. They are also small enough to present a choking hazard for little siblings or even children over three who still tend to mouth their toys; so keep them out of reach. The patterns printed in the creative booklet are done in solid primary colors, however, the wooden tiles are actually finished in a much lighter hue of these colors. As a result they don't exactly match the patterns. They say three and up. We would say, no way that most threes can use this without a struggle. Save this for 5 year olds & up.

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

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2012 Award
Chronicle Around the World Puzzle
(Chronicle $14.95 Score:)

Highly stylized images of multicultural children from around the world fit together, hand in hand, on this big 16-piece floor puzzle. The playing pieces are two-sided, so there are 32 images that can be joined. Each figure is wearing the native costume of his or her country and the name of the country is printed on the side. Marked for 3 & up, but the concepts are well beyond that age group.

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

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2012 Award
eeBoo Felt Mosaic
(eeBoo $18 Score:)

This is a challenging kind of concept game played with felt triangles that that can be rearranged in a multitude of geometric patterns to form different shapes. The set comes with a flocked board that the felt sticks to and 100 different patterns that challenge visual perception, dexterity and problem solving skills. This can be played solo or cooperatively. Once they begin to play with the pieces kids will also like inventing their own shapes and patterns.  The set comes with 72 felt triangles in nine colors, a flocked board and 100 practice Images to reproduce. 5 & up.

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

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2012 Award
Kaleidograph Flora
(Red Hen/Kaleidograph Design $12.99 Score:)

A perfect choice for travel or quiet time play. Each set comes with 12 die cut cards that are brightly colored on each side. Arrange them and rearrange them making original designs as they are stacked or use the patterns poster to reproduce the patterns shown. There is a "flora set" with circular frame or the "crystal" set with more angular frame. Either set provides multiple possibilities for creative fun and visual experimentation. All store away in a CD style case for easy take-along diversions. 5 & up.

Activity: Give your child a chance to explore the cards for a while. Then open the poster and choose a design you'd like to reproduce. Note that each design involved three or more colors. Select the colors and then experiment with putting them in various layers until you find the order that reproduces the pattern you chose from the poster. A good game for enlarging color words, matching skills as well as shapes and sequencing - along with visual discoveries.

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

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2011 Award
Dr. Seuss Wood Alphabet Puzzle
(I Can Do That Games $19.99 Score:)

Lift the gaily-painted wooden letters to uncover a surprise object that begins with the sound of each letter. Under the A is an airplane. Under the B a ball, etc. Favorite Dr. Suess characters are painted on the wooden frame, as well. Best of all, the raised letters are chunky enough for little hands to lift out and hold with ease. 3 & up.
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: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
On the Farm Block Puzzle
(Mudpuppy Press $15 Score:)

Nine cardboard cubes each have six different puzzle pictures for players to turn and fit together. This kind of part/whole problem solving demands patience and visual discrimination. Handling the cubes also takes some fine motor skills. The graphics are playful images of a cow, hen, sheep, goat, horse and pig. Marked 3 & up. We think 3's will need help and this may be a better choice for 4-6.


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: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
Construction Block Puzzle
(Mudpuppy Press $15 Score:)

Nine cardboard cubes each have six different puzzle pictures for players to turn and fit together. This kind of part/whole problem solving demands patience and visual discrimination. Handling the cubes also takes some fine motor skills. The graphics are playful scenes with animal critters driving a steam shovel, earth mover, dump truck, steamroller, cement mixer, and crane. Marked 3 & up. We think 3's will need lots of help and this is probably a better choice for 4-6.


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: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
Ceaco Kids 2-sided Dinosaur Floor
(Ceaco Kids $11.99 Score:)

A huge 2' X 3' floor puzzle with 48 big sturdy cardboard pieces with an added twist. There are two sides to this, so you do one puzzle and then take it apart and do a completely different puzzle. One side shows a scene with many prehistoric creatures. The other side has multiple creatures, but a close up of T-Rex with its big mouth open displaying a lot of sharp teeth. This is marked 4 & up and we suspect some fours are going to need some lessons in using the image on the box to figure out what side the puzzle pieces belong to.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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