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1999 Awards
I Made My Microscope
(Kahoot $13 Score:) This is not a fine tuned microscope. It's a working model that calls for following directions and has an interesting activity book for using the microscope after it's built. Testers have consistently loved this series of hands-on science kits. Great parent/child projects for 5s to 7s or solo for 8 and up. 770-704-6009

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 1999.

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1995 Awards
Giant Periscope
(Tasco $15 Score:) For exploring around corners, this sturdy, plastic double-handled periscope is just right. Made of sturdy plastic this is a fun toy for dramatic play as well as visual discoveries. This company also makes a full line of microscopes and telescopes.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 1995.

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1999 Awards
Buried Treasure Kits
(Kidology $17.95 Score:) We originally thought this kind of kit was pretty mindless, but our testers loved playing archeologist, chipping away at hardened sand blocks to unearth hidden treasures. While there used to be several themes- Castle, Egyptian, or Mayan Treasure-- the company has informed us that they are going forward with only the Egyptian set for 2009. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 1999.

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1995 Awards
Music Maker Harp
(Peeleman-McLaughlin $50 Score:) No electronic sounds here. This is a cross between a zither and an autoharp, but much easier to learn to play. Slip one of 12 follow-the-dot song sheets under the strings and pluck on the dotted lines. Has a soft and lovely tone. Includes folk, Beatles, and classical music sheets. You can buy extra music for this once the first set is mastered. 6 and up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 1995.

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1997 Awards
Harrisville Easy Weaver
(Harrisville $89 Score:) For a large loom, consider this handsome wooden loom which comes pre-threaded with projects that slip right onto the loom. Since the projects are predesigned this is less open-ended than an empty loom, but it guides the beginner to success. Refill kits are also available. ($25.95). 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 1997.

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2001 Awards
Betty's Begin to Sew Sets
(Quincrafts $4.99 Score:) Small affordable kits for trying out a variety of needle crafts. This is a good way to develop kids fine motor skills, the dexterity needed for penmanship. Once they make these beanbags they can play with them too. The bean bag sets feature a Dolphin or Butterfly and come with plastic safety needle and precut holes for easy sewing. 5 and up. For more advanced sewers, Make Your Own Teddy Bear ($7.99) makes a very pleasing 9 inch bear. 8 and up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2001.

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2000 Awards
Hanging Bird Feeder & Bird Houses Kits
(TWC of America $16 Score:) These beautifully crafted pine kits with rounded edges and predrilled holes make them hands down the best birdhouse kits for kids on the market. Kids will be more invested in bird watching if they have a hand in constructing the kits to attract the birds. Younger kids can help with the decoration or hammering, but even older kids will need adult assistance. Also great: Feeder with plexi-glass windows ($20); Bird house ($16). 8 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2000.

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2001 Awards
Gearbotics
(Learning Resources $58.95 Score:) This series of motorized plastic gears are interesting to construct. We still highly recommend the Robot, Oogly Googly, Sonic Insect, and Space Station (more than this year's Monster). The original nonmotorized Gears! Gears! Gears! sets remain our favorites because they are more open-ended and develop problem-solving skills as kids make their own moving machines. ($20/$40 ). New for 2003 , Under the Sea Set ($29.95 ) with 67 pieces including fish, turtles, whales, and an octopus. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2001.

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Awards
Radio Control Power Pitch'n'Hit Baseball Pitching
(Sports Fun $29.99 Score:) Players gave this pitching machine high scores. Pushing the button on the bat easily activates plastic balls to bat at. Ponytail Softball Pitching Machine also available. Take 4 D & 2 AA batteries. 8 & up.

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

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1998 Awards
Fun Gripper Balls
(Saturnian $9.95 Score:) Designed for beginners, these balls are covered with nylon and no slip grips. There's a lightweight bat and baseball, football, soccer, or volleyball. These are a good choice since they are lightweight and non-threatening to inexperienced players. 4 & up. SNAP INFO: Getting the hang on catching and throwing can be tough. These nylon fabric covered balls can be a help with their nonslip grips. There's a lightweight bat and baseball, football, soccer, or volleyball. These are a good choice since they are lightweight and non-threatening to inexperienced players. 4 & up.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 1998.

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