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Product Type: Toys
Award: Platinum
Age: Preschoolers
Review Year: 2013

 


2013 Award
Fairview Manor Dollhouse
(Big Jigs $184 Score:)

Players have full access to all the rooms of this splendid painted dollhouse. No decorator needed since it comes fully furnished with lovely painted furniture for every room plus a play family, including an oddly old-fashioned white haired granny and gramps. The staircase has a turned landing that took some figuring out and there is a back door that slides, but not too easily. This is one of those memorable play settings that will get long-term use.  3 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
YBIKE GLX Pro Scooter
(YBike $89.99 Score:)

Designed for kids 5 & up, this is the newest of the YBike's "lean and steer" three wheel scooters. It has a super wide reinforced deck for extra stability. It has a lightweight adjustable aluminum handlebar that goes from 28 inches to 32.5, to grow with your child. Also has an easy to use rear brake. Available in black/purple or black/red combos.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Hape City Parking Garage
(Hape $99 Score:)

A handsome wooden parking garage with working elevator to lift vehicles up to the two level garage with ramps for coming down. Comes with three small vehicles and has a heliport with little helicopter up on top. This is larger than the older garage from Hape. There are miles of pretend play waiting to happen. Great for developing pretend stories

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Janod Barnyard Dominoes
(Janod $24.99 Score:)

Cows, ducks, hens, tractors and farmer's hat and boots are easy to match on these wooden dominos. Turn them over and play a traditional match the dots domino game. Finished in smooth natural wood these are basic gear that will be used for naming and knowing as well as for matching, stacking, or collapsing games. 28 pieces. 

SNAP: Introduce the playing pieces by finding all the cows as a first game, finding all the sheep as another game...etc. Playing a traditional game of dominoes can wait. Knowing and naming and matching builds the readiness for the old-fashioined game. These are nice for stacking and lining up, too.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Award
Janod Gabins Formula 1 Car Puzzles
(Janod $17.99 Score:)

Four cardboard puzzles come in this carry-all cardboard case. Each features a racing scene with multi-ethnic drivers. The four puzzles have 6, 9, 12, or 16 pieces, each in its own plastic baggie. They need to be kept separated. Naturally, they get progressively harder, so you may want to put the harder ones away and introduce them gradually. 3-5

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Janod Lou Plays Veterinary Puzzles
(Janod $17.99 Score:)

Four cardboard puzzles come in this carry-all cardboard case. Each features a little veterinarian at work in her office, caring for animals and doing her computer entries. The four puzzles have 6, 9, 12, or 16 pieces, each in its own plastic baggie. They need to be kept separated. Naturally, they get progressively harder, so you may want to put the harder ones away and introduce them gradually.  3-5

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Learning Resources Science Plant and Grow Set
(Learning Resources $26 Score:)

For budding scientists, here is a 12-piece kit with see through rooting trays, pots, observation jar with vented lid, watering can, trowel, plant markers and best of all--10 on-the-mark activity cards that invite kids to grow a variety of plants. Use found materials, like the top of a pineapple, radishes, carrots, popping corn kernels, and a clove of garlic. For other experiments, bring home seeds for beans and chives. The round observation jar with a lid can become a small terrarium with plants found in the yard or park. The activity cards provide realistic gardening experiments that preschoolers can do with help from an adult or older sib. True, you could use many of the containers you own without the set, but this gives the process structure in a playful way. Hopefully you will do that, too. To enlarge the experiences, take photos as each experiment progresses to make a small personal log or simple personalized book of their growing experiments.  Our tester "loved planting the seeds and labeling the various pots. He lso loved wtering his plants. Finally, there is a clear rooting tray and an observation jar included with the set, so he loved observing his plants take root and grow within the soil. He had never seen how roots grow and develop before so it was a new experience for him."  They did report some things they thought were drawbacks: the set does not come with soil or seeds--so right from the start you need to buy things before you can start. The set also only comes with one observation jar even though there are five experiments that call for the observation jar. Our tester felt that the best part of the set were the in ten activity cards. They also gave Learning Resources high marks for having on line extension activities. 3 & up.

SNAP: This hands-on kit is an excellent set of activities that all children can enjoy on various levels. Involving children in the process is a very satisfying ongoing activity.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Lego Monster Trucks
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:)

Designed for younger builders, this 197-piece set comes with cards with step by step bold plans. Kids make three rough and tumble vehicles, and a judges stand. Once they build the vehicles there's plenty of dramatic play action. We think many 4's will have dexterity challenges and may need some help in getting started. These are marked for 4-7.

Note our more experienced 6 year old builder felt this set "wasn't like LEGOs"...because the instructions are simplified.  "It actually seems like they just omitted instructions. All that is included are three laminated cards (pics below) with the vehicle featured and small sections magnified. To (our builder), the chronological step by step instructions are what he loves about the build and what 'makes them Legos'."

""""""In otherwords, this is a good place to start with building LEGO sets.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Janod Picnic Hamper
(Janod $35 Score:)

When the Teddy Bears have their picnic, this four-piece set of painted wooden dishes, cutlery and drinking glasses are ready for action. The sturdy round red checked box also contains a checked cloth and is fitted out for storing the pieces and has a handles and clasp to keep things in order. The glasses have holes near the top for safety, so they cannot form a suction around the mouth and nose.  3 & up

 

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Step Two Easy Turn Coupe
(Step 2 $59.99 Score:)

Our testers spent several happy afternoons driving around in this new kiddie car that runs on foot power. It has a front castor wheel for added maneuver-ability. With a working horn and ignition key there are miles of pretend fun with the Easy Turn Coupe. As an added bonus, it can be used with younger riders that an adult can push along, however, there is no safety belt. There's a removable floorboard to protect little feet when they are being pushed. Also nice, this has a front trunk storage area and cup holders for both child and adult. 1 & up.

 

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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