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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 

The Icee Maker
(Spinmaster $24.99 Score:) Our testers were excited with the idea of being able to make their ow slush drinks. In fact they thought it would be grat fun for a party. But, alas, this got a lukewarm response (sorry)- after a whole lot of turning and wishing it made a disappointing drink that wasn't "slushy enough."

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: .

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2003 Award
Mosaic Tile Tray
(Creativity for Kids $20 Score:) Both boys and girls will like painting the tiles and using them to decorate the surface of a handsome wooden tray that is 7.5" by 11.5 " Smoothly finished in natural wood, with cut out handles, no two trays will be the same. Allows kids to select the designs and set the pieces in their own way. Comes with ceramic tiles in a variety of sizes, ceramic paints, brush and glue grout. Makes a nice gift to give to familiy or teacher. Or, give a tile to each member of the family to decorate and then combine for a gift that will become a family heirloom. This came too late for the 2003 book or it would have been included. 8 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Bling-Bling Bracelets and Rings Kit
(Fashion Angels Enterprises $15.99 Score:) A treasure trove of glass and metal beads. There are enough supplies in this kit to make 24 bracelets and 12 rings. So, this will last for more than one rainy day or bring this out for a pleasing activity for a play date or sleep-over party. Sixes and sevens may want this, but it is a better choice for eights- the upper range of early school and well beyond. As with most of these kits you need to use a bit of clear nail polish to make the tip of the string stiffer. 8 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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Awards
Alex Chubby Colored Pencils
(Alex $10 Score:) These pencils have thicker "lead" and an easier-to-grasp hexagonal shape, and are especially wonderful for beginners. SNAP These fat colored pencils are ideal for kids who cannot grasp traditional pencils. ACTIVITY: Rainbow Writing: write a letter in one color, have child trace with another color.Now add a third color and have your child trace in a fourth color. A playful way to give your child a feel for letters.

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

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Awards
Jumbo GRIP Colour Pencils
(Creativity for Kids $10 Score:) 12 color pencils have built-in finger grips. Color and then apply water with brush for watercolor effects. Comes with its own sharpener. (800) 311-8684. SNAP: These are thinner than the Alex colored pencils and lend themselves to older kids who would still benefit from finger grips built-in to the pencils. These are very special since after they draw they can turn lines into paint with a bit of water on a brush.

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

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2003 Award
Ice Cream Science
(Scientific Explorer $20 Score:) We wish all chemistry experiments were this tasty! Kids fill out their own lab sheets as they formulate their own "secret" formula. Comes with different flavorings and can be used with different types of milk. The fun part comes when you put your mixture in a series of plastic bags and then put it in a t-shirt and start shaking! After vigorous shaking for five minutes, you'll have ice cream. The kit is full of interesting information about why this works. We found that you really had to shake hard for five minutes. If the ice cream is too runny, you can put your mixture in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Kit designed in conjunction with the UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science. 9 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Dread Pirate Game
(Old Century Classics $99.95 Score:) Think of this game as Monopoly for Pirates. The object is to collect all the treasure and make sure that none of your fellow pirates have any left! You win by moving your pirate ship around the play mat and collecting "gems" and "coins" from your opponents. Moving around the play mat and how many treasures you collect is determined by rolling the dice. Be forewarned, this game can take a long time to play and will appeal to older kids (9s & up). As with most of the games made by this company, the playing pieces are handsome (and pricey). The directions for this game are pretty lengthy and will probably need clarification, negotiation and the adoption of "house rules".

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2004 Award
Quercetti Skyrail Suspension Marble Run Sets
(International Playthings $69.99 Score:) You need a lot of space and a good dose of patience to put this together (an adult is needed) but once you're done, you have a truly amazing structure. It takes some finessing to keep the marbles on the track, "but that's part of the fun." Not for the "it's got to work right out of the box" crowd. Marked 6 & up, but really, a grown up will be needed from beginning to end. For a simpler wooden marble run, consider the original BLUE CHIP Blocks & Marbles (Tedco $30 & up).

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Lego Inventors Series
(Lego Systems, Inc. $14.99 Score:) (Lego Systems $14.99 & up ) These are more challenging sets that come with a motor. Once built, models can travel on ropes across your room. 9 & up. For beginning builders we still recommend a Lego System Classic Building Set BLUE CHIP (Lego Systems $3.99-$29.99) for more open-ended creations. 5-7.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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Mgears
(Learning Resources $36.95 Score:) From the folks that brought you the open-ended Gearbotic sets (BLUE CHIP), here's a more advanced 350-piece set that comes with gears and a motorized wheelbase. We thought this was going to be a huge hit but our testers found the set difficult to do independently and then they didn't think the vehicles went fast enough. We still highly recommend the original nonmotorized BLUE CHIP Gears! Gears! Gears! sets because they are more open-ended and develop problem-solving skills as kids make their own moving machines. ($20/$40). Also new this year, Dizzy Fun Land ($36.95), a gear set with an amusement park theme that our five-year-old tester enjoyed. 5 & up.

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

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