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Product Type: Toys
Award: Platinum
Age: Late Elementary School Years
Review Year: 2013


2013 Award
Hasbro Bejeweled
(Hasbro $19.99 Score:)

Originally an online game, Bejeweled has now been adapted for real time play, complete with playing board and shimmering playing pieces. Basically this is the same game as the digital form, the object is to collect three of a kind in a row. But the big glitzy playing pieces are good looking and pleasing to slide across the playing board. Game play requires some strategy and logic.  We loved this game--but we do think the packaging needs some work. Once you create the board (and the pop up box fo the pieces) it does not go back into the original box easily. Our suggestion is to get a bigger box to store it in. 8 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on

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2013 Award
Creativity for Kids The Complete Paper Jewelry Set
(Creativity for Kids $22.95 Score:)

Enough supplies for making over 200 paper beads! A splendid kit for learning the technique for making big and little paper beads with colorful patterned, solid colored papers. The kit includes two tools for making the beads, gel cord, paper flowers, seed beads, sequins, varnish, paint brush and stencils for making more bead papers. 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on

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2013 Award
Color Changing Flower Lights
(Creativity for Kids $26.95 Score:)

A really satisifying kit for adding some light and sparkle to any room. Comes with three battery powered (batteries included) round clear plastic globe bulbs that have faceted surfaces. The set comes with plastic leaves, shimmering fabrics, beads, self-adhesive rhinestones, thread, double-sided sticky foam, a bead threader and an instruction book with ideas.  Comes with green satin cords to hang the lights up with. Very pretty and our testers liked that the bulbs have three different settings for varying patterns.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on

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2013 Award
Mindstorms EV3
(Lego Systems, Inc. $349.99 Score:)

LEGO is rolling out a completely revamped version of the robotics kit for a new generation of kids. Knowing how essential smart phones have become, the new design enables them to operate their robots via their phones. The set comes with 17 suggested builds with three different levels of programming. Comes with a hefty price tag - but if you think of this as an after-school program in robotics, it seems more approachable.  We are waiting for our testers feedback. This toy made our Platinum Award list in 2007.

We sent it to a family with 4 builders (14, 12, 10 and 9 years old). The 9 year old let his brothers fill us in. They did a great job reviewing this product. Here's what they reported:  

Mindstorms is a really fun robotics set. It is really awesome because you can program it to do anything you want. The programing itself is very easy. You just click and drag, and it is very intuitive. There are more advanced setting if you want to be more detailed. The directions to build were easy to follow even though they were online. The robot that we built could track its remote and then when it got close enough, would shoot it with a ball. It could usually hit it within two or three shots. The set is made of Lego technics, which are a slightly more complicated Lego. But it makes building moving parts very easy. It comes with a touch sensor, a color sensor, and an ultra sonic sensor, so it can see where it is going. The sensors are really fun to work with, and you can make things you can't usually make. Over all it is a great robotics kit. One of the best I've ever worked with.
-14 year old

Mindstorms is easy to use and is appropriate for ages 10 and up. It comes with directions to make certain robots, but you can also make things you want. The directions are easy to follow, and the parts seem really durable.
-12 year old

...each robot has a specific mission. For the humanoid, you could set it up to find and shoot the remote control. And that was really cool. Also you could switch it to a mode where you can control it with the remote control. Each side of the remote would control a side of the robot. Or you could switch it to channel two and when you press forward, he would shoot low, and you press backwards it would shoot high. The remote control has 4 buttons and 4 channels. Which makes it pretty easy to use.
-10 year old

Here's what their mom wanted other parents to know:

The technic legos are more difficult to work with than regular lego blocks. The kids really had to pay attention to which piece they were supposed to take (a 6cm rod vs an 8cm rod to connect things made a big difference). I found the directions on the website a little trickier to follow than the ones in a physical book. But the kids didn't have as much trouble as I did. Also, some of the directions were harder to actually do like when you had to flip some pieces around that you had built to connect it to the wires. They were able to get them, but the 9 year old had to ask for help occasionally from the older boys.
They built the trickiest humanoid robot first...but were excited about all the different choices. I think they will make most of them over time. After they took the pictures, they were going to take it apart and try something else. Overall, very well done. But definitely for the older set of kids.

A picture from our testers:


Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on

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