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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2003 Award
K'nex Burn Out
(KNEX $49.99 Score:) You can build three different models of racing cars with this 246-piece set that also comes with a remote control. Our 12-year old Knex builder constructed the first model in under an hour. For less advanced builders, some assistance will probably be needed but this is a manageable kit. Available with two frequencies so that you can race a friend's car, too. One model is 3' long-very neat. 9 & up. (800) 543-5639.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Lego Bionicle
(Lego Systems, Inc. $7.99 Score:) Our testers enjoyed these futuristic robots that have become a hot collectible. Not the Lego toys you remember, but not too dark or menacing-and they're easy to put together.

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

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2003 Award
K'nex Downhill Thrill
(KNEX $19.99 Score:) Our extreme sports fans at first gave a mediocre rating to this new 3'-tall ramp that you build for a street luge racer because they could not make him go through the finish line properly. But once they adjusted the position of the finish line, the rating shot up way up! A good playdate toy. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Awards
Talking Clever Clock
(Learning Resources $34.95 Score:) Hands down, the best electronic clock for teaching kids how to tell time. Our nine-year old tester had given up on ever learning how to tell time-but within minutes he was having fun using the clock that has self-checking features with both digital and analog clock faces. He liked moving the hands of the clock to match the digital readout. There are buttons that will tell you the time out loud, along with quiz-and-answer buttons. 5 & up. If time is an issue in your house, look no further! SNAP: For kids with disabilities, having a clock that uses several senses may be a real plus. This clock talks and gives digital as well as analog read-outs. So it's a great learning tool for exploring telling time. Our tester liked setting the time and then pressing the button to hear the time said. The same company's non-electronic clock is less expensive and still a great choice, but hearing the time out loud may be worth the extra money. Activity: Set the clock for typical times when you eat, rise, go to bed, leave for school. Concentrate on the hour first and then the half hour. Minutes come after those are pinned down. Learning to tell time- takes time. As the old adage goes- Rome wasn't built in a day. To build interest you might want to consider one of the craft kit clocks that kids paint, as well. (888) 800-7893.

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

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2003 Award
Girl Trends Girl Wear
(Creativity for Kids $12 Score:) Our nine-year-old tester was thrilled with the dog tag and belt buckle she decorated. While she thought younger kids would have trouble picking up the small rhinestones and placing them "just right" on the metal, she enjoyed the project that took her approximately 45 minutes to complete (with some popcorn breaks in between!). Comes with glue, over 150 rhinestones, two dog tags, and a pink, black and grey camouflage belt (yes, you read that combination correctly!). 8 & up. Also fun, Hair ChopSticks ($8 ).

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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LeapFrog Explorer Globe
(LeapFrog $99 Score:) This new talking globe comes with a sensor pen and lots of information (although the pace is frenetic). The good news is that it costs a lot less than the original Odyssey Talking Globe- it's also much smaller. At first, our testers liked their novelty appeal. But before long the quizzes can become a negative factor. Unfortunately, the more questions they add, the less well they work. Why ask questions that can't be answered by looking at the globe? Testers liked pushing the buttons but quickly felt frustrated. 8 & up. (800) 701-5327.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: .

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Hershey's Chocolate Magic Maker
(Spinmaster $14.99 Score:) As confirmed chocoholics we hoped this would be a winner. It melts chocolate chips without burning hands, but it's hard to extrude chocolate into the molds without making blobs, and is next to impossible to open for cleaning.8& up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: .

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2003 Award
Tie Dye Kit
(Creativity for Kids $19.95 Score:) Recently reintroduced, this refreshed kit is still a clever twist on a popular craft. Here's what we wrote back in 2003. Under the heading, "What will they think of next?" here's the latest in tie-dye convenience. The dye is in the string that you use with your own tee-shirts or pillowcases. A good outdoor craft project. Our tester reported, "Don't use the same water twice, it comes out muddy."

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

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2003 Award
Magic Color Sno-Cone Maker
(Action Products $23.99 Score:) Our testers compared a lot of sno cone makers and this came out far ahead of others. They preferred this to the Snoopy version, reporting that the directions were clearer and it was easier to work than most.

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

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2003 Award
Girls from Many Lands: Neela Doll & Book
(Pleasant Company $50 Score:) One of a new collection of Girls from Many Lands, Neela is dressed in the orange sari and gold jewelry that she wears to her sister's wedding in 1939 when the world was about to plunge into World War II and India's Freedom Fighters were looking for their independence from the British Empire. Neela, the doll and her story (Victory Song written by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni) are for older school aged girls. She is not a play doll, but one for display as part of a collection. Her adventure portrays a girl with gumption who questions traditions and yearns to play a role in her country's history. We look forward to reviewing other books and dolls in this new series. There will be dolls and books set in Alaska in 1890, China in 1857, France in 1711 and England in 1592. 9-12.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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