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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 

 
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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2004 Award
Word for Word Game
(ThinkFun $10 Score:) Here's a fun word game for mixed ages. Players take five different letter rods. Start the two-minute timer and combine rods making as many words as you can. Time's up! Write down your words. Now swap play pieces with the person sitting next to you, how many words can you each get? The person with the most words wins! A fun combination of Boggle and Scrabble with a hands-on experience in phonics. 7 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Borderline
(Borderline Games $9.95 Score:) With the new African Edition, the European/Middle East edition, or the original US edition, here's a playful, painless way to make maps fun! The object is to get rid of all your cards, but you can only put cards down on a card that "borders" the state, body of water, or country in your hand. If you don't know, flip your card for a map that shows the borderlines. A no-tears-or-fears, entertaining geography game! 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Crayola Sidewalk Paint
(Crayola $14.99 Score:) Have your own sidewalk art show with this four-color paint kit. "Colors not as vibrant as on the box, but the kids had a great time. I had to fight with the kids to get them to stop and get ready for bed!" 5 & up. Also fun, Crayola Window FX ($3.99 1?2) Remember using glass wax with stencils for holiday decorations? Here's a much more colorful and easy-to-use update that comes right off with water. 4 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
It's My Life Scrapbook Kit
(Creativity for Kids $19.99 Score:) Scrapbooking is one of the hottest craft trends for adults. This kit will appeal to older girls ready to memorialize a school year, a trip, or a big event. Comes with a hot pink book, stickers, decorative papers, stencils, scissors, pen, and small memory key chain.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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