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Product Type: Toys
Award: SNAP
Review Year: 2012

 

 
2012 Awards
Creeper Sleeper Cozy
(North American Bear Co. $10 Score:)

We love the many various forms of these cozy toys. Easy to grasp, soft and comforting. Look for the new Cozy sets that are coming soon with  two super soft cozy dolls in a pack($20). That way, if one goes missing you have a replacement. Choose from the Bunny, Cat, or Dog Cozy. These are the kind of unstuffed easy-to-clutch “lovies” that babies often find a great comfort to hold as they make the transition to sleep.

SNAP: Comfort toys need to be easy to wash and to hold. These soft bodies dolls are easier for children with physical challenges to grasp.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Awards
Hape Farm Animals Mix and Match
(HaPe $20 Score:)

A 28-piece set of picture dominoes with colorful graphics painted on the wooden playing pieces. Turn them over and have a game of traditional dominoes with dots. This is a good game for pre-readers learning to match images before they begin matching letters. Or, for early counting skills, dominoes helps children begin to sight read sets of two, three, or more and match them. 3 & up.

SNAP: A perfect choice for knowing and naming animals as well as beginning matching skills and counting.

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

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2012 Awards
Hape Ring-Around-A-Rosy
(HaPe $45 Score:)

A classic toy for developing dexterity as well as imagination. Toddlers love sliding the colorful beads over the maze of wires. Safely tethered, the colored beads and rings are fun to move up, up, up and see them slip and slide down. This is a good manipulative plaything. Children often turn the beads into cars, people, animals or whatever they choose to imagine as they move them up and over. It's also a great plaything that opens the way to color names, sizes (the beads are of differing sizes) and even simple counting. There are ten beads on each of the maze wires. 24 months & up.

SNAP: Use this for developing fine motor skills as well as counting and color concepts.

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

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2012 Awards
Farm Activity Mat
(North American Bear Co. $75 Score:)

A scrumptious set of 12 fabric farm animals. Each fits into a pocket inside this zip up mat with a bright red barn and grassy green meadow all around. We could have done without the numerals on the animals. They each fit into a pocket that shows a small graphic of the related number of animals. For example, the cow with a numeral three on its side fits into the pocket with the image of three cows. Similarly, a pig with a  nine on it goes into a pocket with the image of nine pigs. The images are very small and hard to count for the age group this toy is going to reach. That said, this is a fun "knowing and naming" toy and the soft animals will be fun to use for pretend lay on the farm side. As for matching number words and numerals, or sequencing numbers, those are kindergarten and beyond skills that are beyond toddlers. The toy seems much younger than school years, but it is beautifully made and will also be a fun toddler toy for talking, pretending and for un-filling and refilling with help.

SNAP: Lots of knowing and nameing games can be played with this set of animals.

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

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2012 Awards
Blossom Cottage
(Big Jigs $119 Score:)

A relatively small painted wooden doll house with lift up roof that makes getting into the house easy. It has a carry handle feature, but would be a tad heavy for young children to handle on their own. That said, this is a good scale for a small space or as a good toy for Grandma's little visitors. It comes furnished with a family of four and 18 pieces of furniture. You fold the front down to reveal a painted garden, as well. Marked 3 & up. 

SNAP This small uncomplicated house will fit on a table top or wheelchair table.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Awards
Talking Tubes
(Alex $27.99 Score:)

An update from the can and strings inventions you played with in school, this plastic set works really well to the delight of our testers young and old. It comes with 3.3 yards of yellow tubing with a red and blue telephone on either end. Go around a corner so that you can't see each other and whisper something. Your voice comes through loud and clear. An early science lesson about sound! 3 & up.

SNAP: For kids who are working on speech, this is a fun prop that will add playful fun to their efforts. Try a game of echo. Say what I say...start with one or two words and buld. Reverse roles and you say what your child says.

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

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2012 Awards
ELC Stacking Faces
(International Playthings $14.99 Score:)

A wonderfully designed set of four stacking cups with amusing faces clipped to the side. Use them for nesting, stacking, pouring and sprinkling. Each of the cups has sprinkling holes that make them ideal for experimenting with in the bathtub. They are wider than most stacking cups and easier to grasp by the rims or faces. Also, thanks to the holes in the bottom they are safe and will not pose a hazard that solid cups can do. They are also of unusual sizes; the tallest being the inside one and almost transparent for looking through. The bottom cup is 4 inches wide and the set stacks to 6 inches high.  These will also make good beach toys for sifting sand or water. 6 months-2years. 

SNAP: Big and easy to handle cups that empower kids to stack, nest and best of all use for fun in the tub.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Awards
Little Tikes Discover Sounds Activity Garden
(Little Tikes $79.99 Score:)

Here's a little setting that will be enjoyed as a baby grows from crawling to toddling and even beyond. A soon-to-be three spent a happy time testing all the bells and whistles of the Activity Garden. It is not so much about gardening as it is about making things happen. There are doors to open and close and window with built-in ball run and shutters for games of peek-a-boo. The doorbell has a three buttons that activate three pleasing sounds. A crawl through archway will be fun for active play. There is a mailbox shape, movable bugs to slide, pictures to click, and a detachable three-language phone with buttons that say the numerals baby presses in English, French or Spanish. This is a wonderfully inviting play setting with a terrific variety of activities for fine and gross motor skills. You can convert the four-walled setting into an open one, but we found it is less stabile in the opened positions. This does require assembly, but it went together with relative ease.  It is a big toy, almost 34 by 25 inches.  If you have the room it will be used for a reasonably long time.

SNAP: A good choice for active play that can be enjoyed by children with physical challenges, even if they can not stand. A variety of play modes here that empower kids to make things move and sound.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Awards
ELT Whizz Around Mountain
(International Playthings $54 Score:)

Push the light switch on top of the mountain and watch the little cars speed down the spiral runway. Add the plastic boulders and they can chase the two little cars that can stick together or run solo. There's a switch on the runway to release the boulders separately from the cars. Loaded with batteries the lights will flash and sounds will be activated. However, kids will enjoy this with or without the sounds and lights. 18 months & up.

SNAP: A winning choice for learning about cause and effect and a sense of success as they use the two different actions to make thing happen. The cars do go too fast for tracking with ease, but they do invite some pretend play as well as plenty of pleasure from repetition.

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

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2012 Awards
ELT Click-Clack Caterpillar
(International Playthings $59.95 Score:)

A two-sided toy with fast click-clack segmented car that runs down the track on one side and a ball run on the other side. The ball run moved slower for tracking, while the little segmented car whizzes on down. Toddlers love the repetition of this kind of toy. They can play this with sound effects, music, or with the sound switch off. Just the motion of the car or balls produces sounds. There is also a most welcome volume control switch. A great 1st birthday gift! 12 months-2.

SNAP: A good choice for visual tracking, since the ball run moves slower than most. This is one of those toys that develops dexterity as well as hands on experience with cause and effect.

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

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