Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Award: Gold
Age: Preschoolers
Review Year: 2012

 


2012 Award
Kiwi Crates-Color
(Kiwicrate $19.95 Score:)

A new on-line series of activity kits that are incredibly well conceived and designed.  We sampled a COLOR kit where the activities include making spinning tops and collages. We usually don't love most science kits - but these were just on target for early school aged kids (and we'd say older fours with adult assistance). The materials are lovely and the instructions are clear.  One of the downsides of most science kits, is that the instructions become too complicated for most kids and adults.  Here, the instructions are a playful blend of written and pictorial. The site also invites you to post your results.

These kits are really terrific parent/child or grandparent/child projects that can be completed in an afternoon. We also tried the company's WIND kit that was great fun (but is no longer available). 

NOTE: This is a subscription service so we have not been able to test all the kits going forward.  To order the COLOR kit shown on the Today Show, click here.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Award
MegaBloks Mini Bloks Tub Pink
(Mega Bloks $24.99 Score:)

Choose a yellow and blue tub with 120 pieces or the pink and raspberry version. Either of these come with one action figure, a wheeled base, a working doorway and window, a plastic mini computer, stickers, and a variety of block shapes. It's a truly open ended set with room for storing more, although it contains enough to get builders started. These are the same size as Lego Duplos and compatible. Unlike many Duplo sets, this is marked more realistically for 3 & up. As we have indicated in the Pink Duplo reviews, we don't prefer gender specific blocks, but we recognize that some girls were not building at all with the primary color sets. So, if pink is the only way to get your girls to build, we say bring them on. It's more important that we give girls the opportunity to develop the spatial skills that boys have historically honed with their building toys. These are basic skills that are needed in math and science for boys and girls. 3 & up.

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

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2012 Award
MegaBloks Mini Bloks Tub Yellow and Blue
(Mega Bloks $24.99 Score:)

Choose a yellow and blue tub with 120 pieces or the pink and raspberry version. Either of these come with one action figure, a wheeled base, a working doorway and window, a plastic mini computer, stickers, and a variety of block shapes. Itís a truly open ended set with room for storing more, although it contains enough to get builders started. These are the same size as Lego Duplos and compatible. Unlike many Duplo sets, this is marked more realistically for 3 & up. As we have indicated in the Pink Duplo reviews, we donít prefer gender specific blocks, but we recognize that some girls were not building at all with the primary color sets. So, if pink is the only way to get your girls to build, we say bring them on. It's more important that we give girls the opportunity to develop the spatial skills that boys have historically honed with their building toys. These are basic skills that are needed in math and science for boys and girls. 3 & up.

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

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2012 Award
MegaBloks CAT 3-In-1 Ride-on
(Mega Bloks $49.99 Score:)

Finding a low-to-the-ground ride-on that actually steers but doesn't tip over is not so easy. At last, we have good news! This yellow construction truck is a combo fun for beginning walkers it can be used as a push toy and for foot to the ground riding. Sound buttons on the steering wheel will make a hit with toddlers and happily for adults, it has a volume control. It also comes with a detachable toolbox for beginning pretend play-for the older tots. The seat is more comfy than the company's earlier ride-on dump truck. This is really basic gear for active play and building big muscles. They say 1 & up. We say this is best for toddlers who are steady on their feet, which is often a little later.

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 Award
Folkmanis Nibbling Mouse Puppet
(Folkmanis $13.99 Score:)

Bigger than most finger puppets, this white mouse with a very long pink tail, has cheese in its paws and a rod that moves its head from side to side. There's room for two fingers to grasp the rod to active the mouse. A unusual little puppet for special effects in any drama...it could even be the narrator! This is about as loveable as a mouse can be.

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

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2012 Award
Folkmanis Mini Lop Ear Rabbit Finger Puppets
(Folkmanis $7.50 Score:)

Tuck one or more of these adorable little finger puppets into the Easter basket or your travel bag!

Folkmanis also makes one with upright ears. This kind of small plaything will be enjoyed long after the candies are forgotten.

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

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2012 Award
Lego Bricks and More Pink Brick Box
(Lego Systems, Inc. $14.99 Score:)

Designed to appeal to girls, this pink storage box filled with 224 pieces comes with building directions for building a house, vehicle, and outdoor area. While we still prefer the traditional tubs and buckets with primary color building bricks that are gender neutral and appropriate for boys and girls, we understand that some girls prefer these colors. Since building is such an important skill for developing spatial relationships and math skills, we would say pink building is better than no building. So, we avoid being absolutists on this subject. Unlike earlier pink block sets from other makers, the themes of most of the new girlie Lego collection doesn't center on malls and beauty shops. This set is marked 4+. We'd say these tiny pieces will be a challenge to many 4's and even 5's.

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

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2012 Award
Willy's Wiggly Web
(Peaceable Kingdom $19.99 Score:)

Unlike the usual game of adding items without making everything fall, this is a cooperative game where you want bugs to fall out of the web, one at a time, without letting Willy the Spider fall out of the web! This is a fun game for 2-5 players to help kids learn to use a scissors and learn to the concept of left and right. Set up will need help by an adult, as the paper web is stretched across the cardboard twigs. Now the cardboard bugs are poked into the web and Willy is added, too. Play begins as each player takes three snips with the safety scissors trying to make a bug fall. There are three levels of play. Game One is just about the cutting and having some strategies to avoid Willy from falling. In Game Two players pass the scissors to the person on their left. In Game Three you draw a card that says if you pass the scissors left or right and how many cuts you can make. Each game takes about 15 minutes. This comes with 50 stretchy paper nets but you can order more for free by contacting the company at info@peaceablekingdom.com. It's marked 3-6. We think older 4's and up will do best

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

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