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Product Type: Toys
Award: Platinum
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Review Year: 2012

 


2012 Award
Sketch-Foam Print Making Kit
(Eye Can Art $28 Score:)

Everything needed for making real prints is packed into this canister that includes clear instructions, foam plates to sketch on, two tubes of printing ink, a brayer, printing paper and a pencil for drawing on the foam. This is an excellent way to learn a new art form that kids can continue to use. When the foam plates are used up, cut the sides away from foam packing trays that veggies come wrapped in and you are ready to print some more. This is an art form that students in my first and second grade classes enjoyed years ago. Now it is done up in a kit with all the materials gathered and ready for action. 5 & up.

 

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

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2012 Award
Penguin Panic
(International Playthings $22.99 Score:)

Here's a new twist on Jenga with a whole lot of shaking going on! Set up takes some dexterity, as the ice blocks have to be set up on the penguin's tray. Now players take turns removing an ice block from the tower and placing it on top of the ice tower. But your turn is not over yet. Now, the player presses the go- button that makes the penguin shiver. Keep your fingers crossed that the ice tower doesn't topple! Our test family said, "You can't help but laugh when everything falls down. It's one of those games that isn't very competitive because you are working together to keep the tower up." Their 9-year old son declared this "awesome for all ages." It is marked 5 & up. We think it will be more fun for slightly older kids who have greater dexterity.

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

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2012 Award
Hape Quattro Game
(Hape $40 Score:)

This game is a lot like Connect 4 with round wooden pieces- instead of plastic chips. The object here is to be the first to put four in a row of the same color either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. The playing pieces are painted in light and dark green and the entire game is made with eco friendly bamboo wood. That said, the pieces are small and fit into a choke tube, so this is a game that is not for kids who still mouth their toys. It is marked three and up, but playing the game will be more appropriate for 5's-6's and up.

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

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2012 Award
Seeds for the Birds Game
(Peaceable Kingdom $15.99 Score:)

A fun way to learn about grids and simple counting. Players turn over picture cards to tell how many seed they can put on the grid on empty bird houses. If the card shows a bird the player gathers all the seeds in the grid on the matching line and puts them in the bird's nest above. If the player turns up a squirrel image the seeds in the grid go to the squirrel above. The object is to feed more seeds to the birds than the squirrel. In other words, all the players are playing against the squirrel rather than each other. Another easy to learn cooperative game for 2-4 players. Marked 3 and up, we think this is more like a game for older 4-5 year olds.

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

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2012 Award
Hape Totter Tower
(Hape $39 Score:)

Play one of many balancing games or use the lovely wooden playing pieces to build amazing structures! The edges of the 24 hollow wooden rings are flocked with a velvety finish that helps them stick together. There are six different size and shapes to these bamboo rings with endless possibilities. Making the stand at crazy angles or stacked upright, these are an invitation for creative thinking as well as game play. An interesting toy for developing eye-hand dexterity as well as spatial awareness. Soooo good! 3 & up.

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

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2012 Award
Zip Zap
(Gamewright $10.99 Score:)

This is a number sequencing game that is played quickly. No turn taking. Everyone plays at once and tries to be the first to put down the number that comes next that is of a matching color. If you happen to have a wild card, so much the better--you still need the right number, but it can be played on any color. So there are two attributes at play here. A good choice for 6 & up.

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

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2012 Award
Quadefy
(Maranda Enterprises $29.99 Score:)

A beautifully crafted brain teaser for older school aged kids, tweens, teens and adults. Each player needs to use all of their pieces to create the cube but you canít go beyond the grid of the board. If you no longer can use your pieces, you lose the round. A great game for working on spatial relations. The game is done in two tones of wood - and is the type of wooden toy you won't mind having out on your coffee table. The game is marked 4 & up which feels way too low for us   - but if you're playing with an older four they may enjoy turning the pieces. We'd say more like 7 & up to feel satisfying and not frustrating. Rounds move quickly - also a plus.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Alex So Many Headbands
(Alex $29.99 Score:)

Our tester could hardly wait to try her hand at making the many headbands in this kit. It comes with 8 satin headbands in a variety of colors plus 2 stretchy headbands all waiting for the creative hands to turn them into unique hairgear. There are ribbons, fabric flowers, slide on as well as sticky gems, pieces of tulle to form into poufs and loops of felt and ribbon for attaching bows, felt shapes and more. A fully loaded kit with idea sheets for inspiration or techniques for making some of the attachments. Big enough for sharing for a party or play date. A great birthday or holiday present that kids can make and wear!

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

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2012 Award
Magformers Carnival
(Rainbow Products $79.99 Score:)

Welcome back! We have been long time fans of magformers but they were unavailable for a while. We like that the magnets in these sets are completely encased, so there is no danger of magnets going into kids mouths or beyond! Yet, they hold together well and this new set, has ideas and instructions for making mini spinning carnival like rides. This set comes with two play figures that can ride the Ferris wheel and cyclone type structures that kids can build. The set has 46 pieces and a stand.  6 & up.

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

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2012 Award
Hit the Hat
(International Playthings $19.99 Score:)

There's a lot of pre-reading involved in this triple attribute game. Players use three dice to determine the color, pattern and shape of the hat they must find. Players use the suction cupped mallets to find the hat with those three attributes. The first to hit six hats and take 6 hats is the winner. It is possible that on your turn the hat you match is already taken. That's part of the big lesson - you win some and you loose some. This is marked for 4 & up. We'd say the three attributes at once may be a little challenging for young fours, but this is a fun way for pre-readers to sharpen their skills at seeing several attributes at a time. There are 35 hats, 4 slammers and three dice.

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

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