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Product Type: Toys

 


2015 Award
Nancy B's Black Light Illuminator Journal
(Educational Insights $16.99 Score:)

Part book/part black light this is a fun activity combo with a working black light, an invisible marker and a book full of do-able experiments that will challenge and hold their interest. Part of the Nancy B's Science Club collection, the packaging features girls doing the experiment and a picture of a Women in Science story; a great way to spark early interest and connections to science for young girls. We also like the Nature Keeper and Tree Diary in this collection. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Klutz Shrink & Link Jewelry
(Klutz $21.99 Score:)

Shrink and bake craft kits have been around for a long time, but what we liked about this one is the clarity of directions and the good looking art that kids can use. We also like the fact that this is not one of those instant crafts. It requires both patience and dexterity along with reading skills and working in an orderly way. These are all built into the fun and the pay-offs are larger and more attractive than most. Part book/part craft kit, this is one of those crafts that requires adult supervision since the oven is part of the action. It also does not come with colored pencils and markers, scissors or a paper punch; but chances are you have all of these and probably of better quality than what would be packed in an affordable kit. 10 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Alex Tilt & Swirl Painter
(Alex $37.99 Score:)

Our testers liked the twirl and swirl action of this art kit that full of surprises. YOu load the four corners with paint and drop the foam balls into the covered box with see-through top. Now, start shaking and tilting the balls as the hatches open and the balls carry the paint from side to side. The set comes with ten activity sheets with mazes as well as ten sheets of blank paper. We prefer the latter, allowing more free form experiments that will mix colors as the balls cross paths. For Ages 6+.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Pete the Cat Doll
(Merry Maker $15.99 Score:)

Fans of the popular books staring Pete the Cat will love this 14.5 inch huggable in his red and blue sneakers. Finished in a soft felt like fabric with stitched on features and a long wiggly tail, this has no clothes that come on or off. His backside is weighted so he can sit. All ages.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Award
Educational Insights Frankie's Food Truck Fiasco Game
(Educational Insights $21.99 Score:)

Players use Frankie's squeezer to pick up the shape food that matches the shape they spin on their turn. The object is to fill your card with a five course meal in each of the shapes. A fun game for kids who are learning their shapes and taking turns. The plastic squeezer is fun to use and is a lot like the bunny shaped one for Hoppy Floppy's Happy Hunt Game. For 2-4 players 4 & up.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Educational Insights Magic Moves Rainbow Jam
(Educational Insights $21.99 Score:)

A totally innovative musical instrument that reinforces color concepts as well as pre-reading skills. Shaped like a hand held microphone, the tip of the Rainbow Jam is pressed down to activate sounds. Players follow the color coded music from left to right to play Wheels on the Bus, Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Twinkle Twinkle, and Mary Had a Little Lamb or go online to down load more music sheets that will need to be colored in with markers (that might be the best bit of fun!). In an alternate mode, players can pick one color and the Rainbow Jam will play a color song that sings as the featured color blinks on top of the toy. This is marked for 3 and up, but we suspect this will be a bigger hit with slightly older kids who can follow the sequence, color in more music, and even love making their own tune. 3-6

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Kids Preferred Carter's Activity Octopus
(Kids Preferred $22 Score:)

Hang this in the stroller for gazing at and then use it for an interesting lap toy that rattles and has big stitched features. Best of all it has eight crinkly-sounding arms. Each has a different color and texture for baby to explore. Some are cotton, some velour and others in cord. All have knotties that will be interesting for baby to touch and taste, for sure. There is a textured teether attached along with a small fish that rattles. Infants.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Award
eeBoo Portraits of Nature 64 piece Puzzle
(eeBoo $12.99 Score:)

Kids will be challenged to fit together two parts of the many animals featured on this handsome 64 piece puzzle illustrated by artist, Melissa Sweet. They'll have portraits of 36 creatures on a 15 X 15 inch puzzle. A fun puzzle for knowing and naming as well as dexterity and problem solving. Also, from the same artist, Growing a Garden with lots of plants to know, name and even read, since they are labeled. These have god sized pieces for younger puzzlers.  5 & up.

 

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Educational Insights Design & Drill Flower Power Studio
(Educational Insights $32.99 Score:)

What every girl needs! A power drill that has two bits and 60 colorful bolts to screw in and out of the flower shaped platform. Cleverly designed, the platform doubles as a carrying case to store the drill, design pieces, and bolts. Great for developing eye-hand coordination, making and seeing patterns, color concepts, counting and pretend fun. The drill requires 3 AA batteries that are not included. Most drill toys of this kind are gender specific for boys, so this is something of a breakthrough. The company also makes a hand operated bolt set for girls that is not powered by batteries called Dazzling Creations, that demands more action in the hands. The bolts get fitted into a crown, a ball gown, a castle and a horses head, pretty stereotyped choices, but probably fun for some girls, but we prefer the open-ended appeal of the Flower Power Studio. For both boys and girls be sure to look at this company's Bright Works version with power drill and light-up platform. Marked 3 & up, but may be better for upper ranges of preschool.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
USA Map 100 Piece Puzzle
(Purple Cow $10 Score:)

For kids learning their way around maps, this company has a series of attractive 100-piece puzzles that come in eye-catching globe-shaped containers. We tested the USA map and putting it together is challenging since the pieces are small. But there are lots of clues such as state names that are broken in two and the frame with flat sides. Marked for 6-99, we suspect this is a better bet for slightly older school aged kids, say 8 & up. If you like this one you will also want to consider the World Map, Solar System, and Europe.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015.

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