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1996 Awards
Master Builder Block System
(T.C. Timber $25 Score:) These wooden blocks are 40 percent smaller than regular unit blocks but maintain their size relationships. Aside from mini-unit shapes there are interesting architectural sets for school-age builders: Roman, Egyptian, Mayan, Middle Eastern, Russian, and Japanese, and new for , the Coliseum ($50/110 pieces ) and the Leaning Tower of Pisa ($45/27 pieces).

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 1996.

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2001 Awards
Thomas the Tank Engine Arched Viaduct
(RC2 Learning Curve $24.99 Score:) Two curved arches which connect to two pieces of ascending track provide a simple way to give trains a lift.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2001.

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1996 Awards
Pretend & Play Calculator Cash Register
(Learning Resources $49.95 Score:) A solar-powered register comes loaded with working calculator and digital display, plus play money and a credit card. A marvelous tool for pretend and math skills. Says 3 & up but this is a solid choice for school-aged kids who are learning to use a calculator. Expensive but better made than any other. Also recommended, Talking Scanner ($16.95) has barcode stickers for digital read-outs. Takes practice to make it work. SNAP INFO: Learning to count and make change is a lot more fun with a toy register. This one is solar-powered with working calculator and digital display. It comes loaded with play money and a credit card. Fun for pretend and math skills. Adding real coins is even better! This is a solid choice for school-aged kids learning to use a calculator. Also interesting: a Talking Scanner ($16.95) with barcode stickers to add to products for digital read-outs with or without sound. But be forewarned: it takes practice to get the scanner's sound to work.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 1996.

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2001 Awards
Frigits Deluxe
(Think of It! $29.99 Score:) You'll want this on the fridge door! It's great fun to discover the many ways to arrange the magnetic shoots, wheels, and spinners so that the marbles drop into the catch box. 7 & up. SNAP INFO: Kids who might not be able to get down on the floor to make a marble run can do this in a wheelchair at the refrigerator door! It's great fun to discover the many ways to arrange the magnetic chutes, wheels, and spinners so that the marbles drop into the catch box. Marbles do fall off easily while the run is being constructed, so have a large supply of extra marbles on hand..

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

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2001 Award
Stacking Track Supports
(Brio $15 Score:) Use these supports to build tunnels, bridges, and two-story layouts for advanced builders. Somewhat simpler elevations can be built with Super Supports ($16) that have grooves to keep tracks from slipping.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2001.

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2001 Awards
Select'n'Go R/C Car
(Little Tikes $29.99 Score:) This snappy race car has a futuristic look with bright red knobby textured wheels. Controller is easy to operate with well-marked buttons. Our testers liked the monster truck look of the 2-in-1 R/C Truck (Fisher-Price $34.99), but report that Little Tikes Car corners better. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2001.

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2000 Awards
Puppet Theatre
(Alex $80 Score:)

Alex's updated big theatre ($80) has a clock for show time and new eye-appealing graphics! This stable floor model is 48" high, with painted trim on one side and a chalk surface for messages. It's big enough to be used for many years to come. Alex's small tabletop model is also available a good choice for smaller spaces.($27).

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

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1997 Awards
Les Minis Calins
(Corolle $25 Score:) For years we've been looking for a tubbable doll that doesn't cost a fortune. Here they are! The new vinyl 12" Miniplouf Tendre ($40) is available in multicultural variations. The 8" Mini-Calin Lisette or Tom ($25 each) are also vinyl, but only available as Caucasian. For a 12" lovable soft-bodied dolls, choose Tendre Calin ($40) or Pti Tendre Rose ($50). Still top rated: Minis-Calin ($15) sweet 8" soft-bodied dolls in Asian and African American versions with charming accessories ($16). PLATINUM AWARD '97. For anatomically correct dolls, Fan-Fan boy or girl drink-and-wet 14" dolls ($80). 3 & up. SNAP INFO: Finding a tubbable doll for bath time or play just got easier. The new vinyl 12" Miniplouf Tendre ($40) is available in multicultural variations. The 8" Mini-Calin Lisette or Tom ($25 each) are also vinyl, but only available as Caucasian. For a 12" lovable soft-bodied dolls, choose Tendre Calin ($40) or Pti Tendre Rose ($50).

Age: . Award Year: 1997.

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2000 Awards
Pretend & Play Teaching Telephone
(Learning Resources $39.95 Score:) You can program in any phone number and leave a message. When your child calls that number they hear your message. A great way to teach important phone numbers and the concept of 911. Even the concept of taking messages is built into the pretend. 4 & up. PLATINUM AWARD '00. SNAP INFO: For learning functional use of a phone, important numbers, and the concept of 911, this is a gem! Even the concept of taking messages is built into the play. You can program in any phone number and leave a message. When your child calls that number she hears your message.

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

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2001 Award
Lacing Puppets
(Lauri $9 Score:) Choose from a variety of precut felt puppet sets with different themes (bunnies, bugs, Cinderella) that kids lace together and then use to tell their own stories. Kits come with yarn and big plastic needle for sewing which develops fine motor skills kids need for writing. Newest additions to the lacing puppets includes holiday themes such as a witch.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2001.

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