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Product Type: Toys
Award: Blue Chip

 

 
Awards
Emergency Rescue Squad Puppets
(Learning Resources $19.95 Score:) Multicultural worker puppets include a doctor, paramedic, police officer, and firefighter. They have vinyl heads and cloth bodies and are ready for dramatic play. The same company makes multicultural families. 4 & up.

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

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1997 Awards
American Girl & American Girl of Today
(American Girl $84 Score:) This company has made its name with exquisite dolls from different periods in American history. New for 2001 is Kit Kittredge, a nine-year old growing up in the Depression Era. There are books for each doll—a wonderful way to introduce history to kids. The American Girl of Today collection allows you to choose one of 20 contemporary-looking dolls with Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, and Asian American skin tones and features. 7 & up. SNAP INFO: A wheel chair is available for the American Girl doll. It's sturdy and a welcome addition to an excellent line. You can order the doll of your choice with skin, eye and hair color to match your child.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 1997.

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Awards
Lego System Classic Building Sets
(Lego Systems, Inc. $3.99 Score:) Lego, the granddaddy of plastic building blocks, is a must-have for this age group. Unlike the themed models in the line these open-ended sets with a mix of bricks, wheels, doors, and mini-figures allow kids to build and design their own creations. Also a great value, Lego Classic Play Desk ($19) comes with 225 pieces. 5–7.

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

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1999 Award
Mad Math Dice Game
(Patrix Communications $23.99 Score:)

If math facts are a source of tension in your house here are two games for working on those skills. Mad Math is a board game that has addition facts on one side and multiplication on the other. The goal is to get three pawns in a row on the board. You collect spaces by rolling the dice and finding the corresponding math fact on the playing board. The board is self-correcting which is a plus. It's not like some dreaded "game" that's good for you—it's actually "edutaining." (This game has been modified this year by the addition of the "addition" side of the playboard). 9 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 1999.

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1995 Awards
A–Z Panels
(Lauri $8.95 Score:) Not only does fitting the rubbery letters in and out of the puzzle frame help kids learn to know and name the letters, but handling the 3-D letters also gives kids a feel for their shapes. Also, Kids Perception Puzzle ($7.50), figures in slightly different poses that help kids look at small differences, just as they must when reading words that look almost alike, such as "cap" and "cup." Also recommended: Number Play ($14.95) with 10 puzzle boards each with a numeral and matching number of objects. 4–7. SNAP INFO: Getting a feel for the shape of letters is easier with the rubbery letters in this A-Z puzzle. Kids can use the empty puzzle board as a stencil to trace the letters, too. ACTIVITY: Use the letters to play a find my sound game. Put three letters on the table and say several words that stat with one of the letters. For example, if you say "sun, sit, smile" the child will pick up the S.- If the child picks up the right letter he keeps it.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 1995.

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1995 Awards
Kids Perception Puzzle
(Lauri $7.95 Score:)

This is a classic puzzle that looks easier than it really is. Figures that look quite similar are in slightly different poses. Kids must look at small differences, just as they must when reading words that look almost alike, such as "cap" and "cup." A good choice for refining visual perception. 5-7.

 

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 1995. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Awards
Parquetry Blocks and Cards
(Learning Resources $28.95 Score:)

Thirty-two geometric-shaped tiles are arranged on top of 20 colorful patterns. Advanced players can use tiles without the patterns. Develops skills in matching and sequencing patterns - skills that are also needed in putting letters together to make words. 5-8.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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1996 Awards
Wax Works
(Chenille Kraft Co. $4.95 Score:) Wax Works waxy sticks (now come in glow-in-the-dark hues) can be coiled, twisted, and shaped into free-form sculptures.Also great for shaping letters to get the feel of the direction letters go without needing pencil and paper. Develops visual and tactile sense. Also recommended Creativity Street, a great box full of supplies including Wax Works($14.95). 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 1996.

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1995 Awards
Chimalong
(Woodstock Percussion $39.99 Score:)

Unlike most musical toys for kids, the tone of this metal-chime xylophone is lovely. Can be played by number/color or musical notation. Can be enjoyed by a preschooler, but becomes a true musical instrument for older children--also reinforces reading from left to right. Mini version is less expensive, but is not as sweet sounding. That said, this is a pleasant travel take-along toy. Says 3 & up; we'd say 4–8.

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, Later School Years. Award Year: 1995. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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1997 Awards
Kids' Tom Tom
(Woodstock Percussion $40 Score:) If you're lucky, they'll let you play this colorful drum while they dance—or switch roles and boogie! Comes with mallets, but testers say that tones are better when played by hand. Also terrific: a Kids' Konga Drum, Two-Headed Bongo, and Ocean Drum.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 1997.

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