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2014 Award
Magic School Bus Engineering Kit
(Young Scientists Club $39.99 Score:)

Our 7 & 9-year old testers had good fun exploring Ms Frizzles wonderful world of engineering. Their mom wrote the kit was "high on educational value, high on adult participation." There are experiments that involve designing a car, constructing a bridge, building a solar oven, a submarine, and an electric game and many other activities. Our testers liked the balloon jet experiment best. An active way to introduce them to the world of chemical, electrical, mechanical and civil engineering. The bus-shaped kit comes with 33 easy-to-understand and follow experiment cards, a notebook for recording experiments, and is chock full of science components: a solar panel, motor, buzzer, electric wires, and lots more. Another good choice for playful and engaging STEM learning. Ages: 5 and up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
Earlyears Click n Spin Blocks
(International Playthings $19.99 Score:)

Each of the four plastic blocks has moving activities as well as sounds and textures. Tots can use their fingers to make things click and spin or use a whole hand to bop the peek-a-boo characters that activate other motions. They also stack one into another, though this is apt to be too challenging for your beginner. For now you do the stacking and let baby enjoy knocking them down as they go kaboom. 12 months & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
Hello Kitty Baby Mini Grabby
(International Playthings $10.99 Score:)

Scaled for little hands, this Hello Kitty soft toy has grabby body with satin, cotton, corded and velour textures. A textured plastic teether is attached and Hello Kitty head has a quiet rattle sound as well as safe stitched features. A fun choice for early lap games. Eventually baby will be able to grab and hold. Newborns & up.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
Tobo Toy Track Set
(Tobo Toys $40 Score:)

Our testers liked this versatile and unusual new track that comes with only one small wooden car, but will be used with other vehicles and wooden train track set-ups. The twelve wooden pieces have multiple interlocking tabs in several shapes that are imprinted with numerals to match up. There are a variety of ways to make these connections, so in spite of the numerals, it is a pretty open-ended track that is compatible with Hot Wheels, Thomas & Friends, Brio and other car and train tracks. A fun accessory for problem solving, matching numerals, fine motor skills, creative thinking, and giving old track toys a new possibilities. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
Creativity for Kids My First Fun Felt Masks
(Creativity for Kids $14.99 Score:)

Designed for young crafters, this kit comes with six colorful foam-backed felt masks that are already to wear with adjustable elastic bands and tons of felt stickers, self-adhesive rhinestones, curly yarn that is silky to the touch and instructions. Most kids will have their own ideas on how to make a one-of-a-kind mask. This is a mess-free kit with no glue needed. While this is a kit that can be enjoyed solo, it’s also grand for a birthday or Halloween party activity—the masks becomes a favor to take home; also a good choice to share on a playdate. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
Earlyears Flip n Spin Triangle
(International Playthings $19.95 Score:)

Sitting up babies are going to be busy with the eight active actions of this colorful plastic toy. Talk about making things happen, a monkey on a barrel shape spins from one side to another, beads that roll and bounce inside a see-thru-tube, butterflies twirl, a spiral spins on a slide, bugs spin on a wavy track, beads clack, beads roll on a corkscrew rod, and a peek-a-boo mirror will reflect baby’s amazement. Turn it over and do it all again! Develops fine motor skills, sensory learning and early lessons in cause and effect. 

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Awards
Earlyears Soft Baby Blocks
(International Playthings $16.99 Score:)

Four colorful fabric blocks that are purposely under-stuffed so that baby can easily grasp them. Each has decorative appliqués of geometric shapes and bright patterns and textures. Blocks have their own distinctive sound--a crinkle, rattle and squeak. Good for beginning lap games as well as being soft and safe enough for baby to handle when she's ready to reach out and take hold of things. These are basic gear props with multiple uses. Newborn and up.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2014.

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Awards
Earlyears Baby Driver
(International Playthings $12.95 Score:)

Of course, every baby likes to be in the driver's seat and run the show. Here is a toy that makes that dream a reality. A small steering wheel makes a rachet sound as it is turned. It has a knob with gearshift that takes on three different position, plus a clicking direction signal, a quiet beep-beep horn, and a view of other cars on the road when the wheel is turned. Best of all, this attaches to a tabletop or high chair tray with a heavy duty suction cup. 6 months & up.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: .

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2014 Awards
Earlyears Jungle Jingle Ball Tiger
(International Playthings $12.99 Score:)

Few toys are more basic for sitting up and crawling babies than a fabric ball. Great for motivating them to use their big muscles and for first social games of roly poly. This bright tiger face ball has a nice jingle sound, multiple textured, stitched features and is easy to grab by its crinkle sounding ears or its be-ribboned whiskers. 6 months & up.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Awards
ELC Twist and Turn Activity House
(International Playthings $40 Score:)

A combo small ball run, hammer toy, gear turner, and shape sorter all in one. Bigger than traditional open-the-door activity centers, this one has two giant color coded keys that unlock two doors on either side of the house. Learning how they work will take some trial and error and adult modeling. A good first birthday gift for developing problem solving and dexterity and lots of repetitive fun that toddlers enjoy. 12-24 months.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2014.

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