Five Fun Learning Toys for Preschoolers
Making Playful Connections to School Skills
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Posted: 2011-09-23 12:55:59 By: Joanne Oppenheim

 

 

 


2011 Award
Count Your Chickens!
(Peaceable Kingdom $14.99 Score: )

Mother Hen is on her way to the coop, but she needs your counting help to gather her many little chicks who are scattered all over the farm. Players spin the spinner to find what picture Mama Hen can move toward. As she does this everyone counts each move. The number of moves she makes dictates how many chicks can be gathered up and put into the chicken coop. But watch out! If she lands on a fox you have to take one chick out of the game. The game ends if all the chicks are back safe before Mama Hen gets there. This is a young cooperative game that encourages kids to work and count together. 3 & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Tablet
(LeapFrog $99 Score: )

When we first saw the preview of LeapFrog's LeapPad, we were hopeful that the final version would really be all that they promised: age appropriate, easy-to-use and engaging to a generation of kids that expect great graphics, games, and speed. (Sometimes what we see at preview doesn't always translate into the final product.) We're happy to report that the LeapPad really delivered on all counts.

Let's address the elephant in the room. The LeapPad is not your iPad. In many ways, we think it's better.  Well, better for the young audience for which it was designed. At $99, the white, lightweight tablet delivers satisfying speed and graphics to your older preschooler and early school age child. Unlike your  iPad, everything is meant for your child.  The games pull from LeapFrog's library of 100+ educational games- so you can select those that are most appropriate for your child and her needs. You can use all Leapster Explorer games and apps you already have- also a plus.  Our testers also loved exploring the art program- here's an example of where an adult may want a turn!  The LeapPad also has a built in camera and video camera. All in all- a great use of technology that will entertain and engage your child.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
eeBoo Circus Matching Game
(illus. by Saxton Freymann, eeBoo $15 Score: )

Thanks to the lively circus illustrations by famed illustrator, Saxton Freymann, the old game of concentration is given a fresh new look. Players turn over two of the colorful cards trying to find a matching pair. The winner is the one with the most matches. But these are no ordinary cards. Use them for encouraging players to talk about what is happening in the pictures. Doing that will build language skills, as well as encouraging beginners to "read" the small details in each picture. Alternative play: Have kids take turns drawing a card and adding a piece of a story about a pretend visit to the circus as seen in their cards. For more complicated challenges have them use a color word, a number word, and an action word in their descriptions. 5 & up.   The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Kid O Memory Match 16
(Kid O $30 Score: )

It's hard to find anything new about a game of concentration, yet this Memory Match 16 does exactly that with an elegant and pleasing new design. It will also save you from losing any of the usual cards. It comes with 8 double-sided cards that slip into a wooden frame. 16 red wooden disks are put into place and players take turns uncovering two at time to find matches. Find a match and take the disks. The player with the most disks wins. The cards have relatively small graphics, so this is going to challenge visual dexterity as well as memory. It's the kind of close looking that kids need to develop for reading and seeing the fine differences between "cat" and "cot" or "cut." So, think of this as a pre-reading game, as well. There are color boards, numerals, letters, bugs, and animals. They say 3 & up. We'd say more like 4-6. There is also a Memory Match 36 with smaller disks and more challenging matches to make.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Fruitominoes
(Bananagrams $12.95 Score: )

Just right for the younger players in the family. A domino matching game with colorful fruits on the tiles instead of the classic dots. So, this is a good game that can be played by matching colors, shapes, names or counting. It works on every level. Like all domino games it is easy to learn and quick to play. The white tiles look a bit like maj jong tiles and have a clean clear look that makes them easy to "read. With young players use the names of the fruits, the colors and quantity to reinforce the learning built into the tiles.

Age: . Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 
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