Classic Toys that Keep on Giving
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Posted: 2012-08-13 07:35:48 By:

 

Classic Toys that Keep On Giving

Babies and Toddlers

Something as simple and elegant as a ball will be enjoyed by your baby as something to reach for when they're just learning how to crawl.  A ball can be used for a variety of peek-a-boo games with older babies.  Younger toddlers will enjoy a game of roly-poly with you. Older toddlers will be happy to try a game of catch when the ball is soft! Here are three great choices:

 

 

 
2011 Awards
Sassy Sensory Ball Set
(Sassy $9.99 Score: ) Looking for something to play with your sitting up baby? One ball has interesting fabric textures to touch (and taste), another has another smaller jingle ball safely enclosed - with slates so that babies can pick it up and turn it, and the last ball has bumps all over it--also interesting to explore. This set can be used in so many ways! You can use them for first games of roly poly. You can also play peek-a-boo games by placing one of the balls under a blanket and then watch as your baby pulls it off! Balls are also great ways of encouraging babies to crawl!! For more activities take a look at our book Read It! Play It! with Babies and Toddlers. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

 

 

 


2011 Award
Kids Preferred Cute as a Button Chime Ball
(Kids Preferred $16 Score: )

A marvelous Cute As a Button fabric 8" chime ball with a jolly jingle safe inside and plenty of surface textures to explore. There are colorful satin knotties, textured loop to hold, a crinkle velour patch, ribbon tabs and felt fringe. Each segment of the ball has a different fabric - printed velour with stripes and another with dots, another with cotton knit stripes and others with corded and dotted velour.

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

 

 

 

 
2011 Awards
Kids Preferred Diva Chime Ball
(Kids Preferred $16 Score: )

A marvelous Diva fabric 8" chime ball with a jolly jingle safe inside and plenty of surface textures to explore. There are colorful satin knotties, textured loop to hold, a crinkle velour patch, ribbon tabs and furry no-shed fringe. Each segment of the ball has a different fabric--high contrast black and white, velour with stars and another with hot pink splotches, silvery dots, and corded lavender velour.A perfect toy for first social games. Rolling the ball back and forth or crawling after it.

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

 

 

 

 

 
2011 Awards
Early Years Busy Ball Drop
(International Playthings $15.99 Score: )

Use the big yellow base and then stack these round chute pieces in almost any order. Baby will be ready for making things happen. Put one of the three see-through balls on top and watch it whirl round and round till it reaches the bottom. This ball drop stacks up over 12 " tall and has balls with colorful beads inside.   It is a basic for learning about cause and effect. Babies and toddlers love the repetitive action here and the sounds of the balls dropping. Chances are you will need to do the stacking at first, but you can depend upon their unstacking it.   Most of all tots love the repetition of making that ball roll down every time!   9 months & up.  The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.  We did not independently test this toy in a lab. 

SNAP: Sing a little song as you play with this ball drop classic. Try it to Wheels on the Bus..."See the balls go round and round, round and round, round and round. See the balls go round and round all though the day." Now switch to " See the balls go down, down, down, down, down, down,etc. Make up other verses about the sound of the balls going plunk, plunk, plunk.

To reinforce color concepts sing about the color of the ball that is in action.

These kinds of made-up songs reinforce concepts such as color, action words,and sensory language in meaningful ways that are more memorable. It's not a quiz game, but a playful way to use language and interact together.

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

 

Preschoolers

If there was one toy we'd recommend for preschoolers, it would be a great set of blocks.

 

 

 
2011 Awards
PBS Kids Exploration Blocks: Building
(PBS Kids $29 Score: )

A 36-piece set makes a good choice for beginning builders or as an add-on to other block sets. Although these are not unit block size, they add interest as decorative elements. Some of the blocks are painted with small shaped that resemble windows. There are arches, cylinders, squares, rectangles, triangles and other odd shapes that kids will find useful for creative building. The set includes a cloth storage bag. All of the pieces are big enough to be safe for toddlers. 1 1/2 & up. There is also a smaller 23 piece set with interesting shapes that is also interesting. PBS Kids Tower Blocks (29.99)

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

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

 

 

 

  
2011 Awards
Guidecraft Unit Blocks
(Guidecraft $40 & up Score: )

If there's one toy every child should have, blocks are it! Nothing is more basic to play than a set of wooden unit blocks. A set with 34 pieces is a place to start, although a 76-piece set ($90) would be even more versatile. Pictured here is a school size set that has 28 shapes($200+)Unit blocks come with built-in possibilities for discovery as they are scaled to each other; putting two squares together, kids discover the two equal one rectangular block; two of the triangles makes a square, etc. Blocks develop kids' spatial understanding, their eye hand skills, their problem solving abilities, imagination, and language. They are the raw materials for dramatic play that put kids in charge. They are great for using with wooden trains for making bridges and roadways for toy cars, barns for small animals. Be sure to add some scaled down vehicles, and animals and even some doll house or action figures to the mix. Give them a place where the blocks can stay up for a while so that they can make settings for their dramatic play.  Blocks can be used solo and in cooperative play. Beginners often will start off by building horizontially...but soon enough preschoolers will start building upwards. These are basic gear for kids with lasting play value because they are completely open-ended and can be used in multiple ways. They may be a farm one day and a bridge the next. One of a favorite lines of props for blocks are the Jungle and Farm Animal sets from Learning Resources($25.99).

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

 

 

 


2011 Award
Prehistoric Anamalz
(Anamalz $12.95 Score: ) Choose from this collection of six dinosaurs; triceratops, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus,Torosaurus, Brontosaurus, and Parasaurolophus. They are handcrafted wooden toys with fabric covered flexible necks, and wooden feet that can be posed for action or give them balance for standing in place. These are finished in natural wood grain with licks of color. Ideal as props for blocks or play with them on the Playmat ($39.95) that is covered with green, blue and brown velour to represent grass, water, and dirt field. The water has fabric rocks that animals can cross and small wooden fish that are under see-through fabric. At the end of the day the playmat turns inside out and becomes a storage holder for all the animals. Also available in this collection, Orange, Apple and Wild Trees ($16.95 each) 6 inches tall. Also see: Farm and Wild AnamalZ ( $8.95 each.) Made in Australia, these are charming collectibles that will have a busy life as kids build block settings of farms, zoos, and prehistoric sites. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

 

 

 


2011 Award
Wild Anamalz
(Anamalz $8.95 Score: )

Choose from this wonderful collection of Wild Anamalz; Baboon, Buffalo, Moose, Polar Bear, Bear, Crocodile, Giraffe, elephant and others. They are handcrafted wooden toys with fabric covered flexible necks, and wooden feet that can be posed for action or give them balance for standing in place. These are finished in natural wood grain with licks of color. Ideal as props for blocks or play with them on the Playmat ($39.95) that is covered with green, blue and brown velour to represent grass, water, and dirt field. The water has fabric rocks that animals can cross and small wooden fish that are under see-through fabric. At the end of the day the playmat turns inside out and becomes a storage holder for all the animals. Also available in this collection, Orange, Apple and Wild Trees ($16.95 each) 6 inches tall. Also see: Prehistoric Anamalz: Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus, Torosaurus, Brontosaurus, and Parasaurolophus ($12.95 each) and Farm Anamalz ($8.95 each) Made in Australia, these are charming collectibles that will have a busy life as kids build block settings of farms, zoos, and prehistoric sites.

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

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

 

 

 


2011 Award
Farm Anamalz
(Anamalz $8.95 Score: )

Choose from this wonderful collection of Farm Anamalz; Bull, Cow, Horse, Pig, Sheep, Black Ram, Donkey Goat and reindeer.They are handcrafted wooden toys with fabric covered flexible necks, and wooden feet that can be posed for action or give them balance for standing in place. These are finished in natural wood grain with licks of color. Anamalz are deal as props for blocks or play with them on the Playmat ($39.95) that is covered with green, blue and brown velour to represent grass, water, and dirt field. The water has fabric rocks that animals can cross and small wooden fish that are under see-through fabric. At the end of the day the playmat turns inside out and becomes a storage holder for all the animals. Also available in the collection, Orange, Apple and Wild Trees ($16.95 each) 6 inches tall. Also see: Prehistoric Anamalz: Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus, Torosaurus, Brontosaurus, and Parasaurolophus ($12.95 each) and Wild Anamalz ($8.95 each) Made in Australia, these are charming collectibles that will have a busy life as kids build block settings of farms, zoos, and prehistoric sites. 

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

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

 

Trains are also high on our list.

 

 


2011 Award
Chuggington Wooden Railway Over and Under Starter Set
(Learning Curve International $49.99 Score: )

Move over Thomas! There's a new train in town. Fans of the Chuggington series will enjoy this starter set. Comes with 22 pieces -including two trains (Wilson & Koko). One of our testers loved that the set came with two trains - just right for her two children ("no fighting").  What we liked about this set is that you
can make an elevated figure 8 with a clock tower in the center or take the tower apart and now you have two tunnels. Can be used with other wooden sets in this line and other wooden sets you may already have. All of our testing families noted that the tracks do not stay together as well as the Thomas tracks--something we also found - which is all the more curious given that these sets are made by the same company that makes Thomas!  Take a look at the accessories in these series.

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

 

Art Supplies

Nothing better than a big new juicy set of art supplies. Great for holiday decorations, thank you notes, and will be enjoyed throughout the year.  You can pull together a basket of art supplies without spending a great deal or you can buy a fully-loaded set that matches your child's age and interests.

 

 


2008 Award
Crayola Telescoping Crayon Tower
(Crayola $14.99 Score: )

We think everyone needs this tower. It makes everyone smile. Remember the really big box of crayons that smelled just like the beginning of the school year? This is better, but you don't have to do third grade again. Comes with 150 crayons in a round plastic tray; pull up the center, and now you have a tower of colors and a sharpener. Also special, Telescoping Mini Marker Tower with 50 washable mini-markers stored in a holder that lifts into a tower. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 
2010 Awards
Faber Castell Young Artist Texture Painting Set
(Creativity for Kids $17.99 Score: )

If you're in the painting zone with your older preschooler or early school age child, this set is fun to expand their painting experience. The set comes with five different "brushes" that will create different patterns with the tempera paint (5 colors are included).  This type of set is right on target for talking about layering colors, changing colors based on combining them and the types of patterns they can create with the brushes. The handy vinyl bag is perfect for storing art supplies after they are cleaned up.

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

SNAP: For kids who may not like getting their hands in the paint, these brushes give them another opportunity for exploring applying paint to paper in interesting ways. The handles are wide but you can also add a foam hair curler to make them easier to grasp.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2011 Award
eeBoo Metallic Color Pencils and Sketchbook
(eeBoo $7.99 Score: )

Getting kids to pick up a pencil can be no fun, especially when kids find writing letters challenging. The very kids who need to practice the most are often the most reluctant. Enter a set of six metallic colored pencils ($7.99) that are slightly fatter but shaped with three sides, to make the gripping all the easier. Choose a robot graphic box or one with birds. Best of all there's a gold, silver, aqua, green, bronze and pinkish pencil for making unusual drawings and signs. Sure to please even the most reluctant beginning writers. There are also larger sets of metallic pencils with 24 pencils in a metal container($14.95. ) For inspiration, bring home matching spiral covered sketch books ($6) with Golden Bird or Silver Robot. The paper is smooth and heavy enough for color pencils and even watercolors. 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: Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2011 Award
Faber Castell Young Artists Essentials Gift Set
(Creativity for Kids $49.99 Score: )

An amazing wood case with 64 drawing essentials: 24 colored pencils, 8 water color pencils, 2 graphite pencils, 18 oil pastels, 12 duo-tip markers, pencil sharpeners, 1 paint brush, 25 sheets of art paper, and a booklet. This is a great choice for kids that are a step beyond crayons and ready to explore new media. The gift box will help keep these riches in orderly storage, ready for school projects or artistic explorations. They say 5 -9. We'd say more like 7 & up.

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

 

Dolls

Dolls that don't have a lot of bells and whistles tend to have lasting play value because they say whatever kids want them to say.

 

 

 
2012 Awards
Journey Girls Kelsey & Friends
(Toys R Us $32.99 Score: )

With her striking auburn hair and hazel eyes, our 2011 Platinum winner, Kelsey is one of a collection of multi-ethnic 18" dolls that will not break the bank. For 2012, new clothes have been added to the collection and her affordable wheel chair is still available. She's featured as the most fearless--a girl who likes to go climbing and hiking. Maybe that is why she arrived along with a wheel chair and crutches set ( sold separately $24.99) She wears sensible outdoor clothes, a fleecy zippered vest, insulated knit shirt, shorts, walking shoes and carries a rugged backpack. All the dolls in the collection have soft bodies, jointed shoulders and luxurious hair for styling. Dressed in sports clothes they are active girls ready to take adventurous journeys. Their eyes do not open and close and they are not very flexible. Kelsey sits in the wheel chair with her legs stiff in front of her. Her hips are not jointed, so she sits, but stiffly. That said, they are an affordable alternative to many very pricey 18" dolls. Tanya is African American and heading for New Orleans Jazz Festival. Meredith is a blonde beauty dreaming of skiing in the Alps. Callie is an Asian girl, who longs to go to London and Alana is a Latina heading for Rome.


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

The wheel chair and crutches are listed and sold separately. Like the dolls, they are more affordable than most and well made.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.

 

 

 

 
2011 Awards
Journey Girls Wheel Chair and Crutches
(Toys R Us $24.99 Score: )

Scaled for Kelsey and other 18" dolls in the Journey Girls collection, this is a terrific foldable wheel chair with fabric seat and a pair of crutches as well as a plaster foot cast, an arm cast, ice pack and an elastic bandage. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Although the Journey Girls line is all about travelling and experiencing different places and cultures around the world, this foldable wheel chair with crutches and other props happens to be priced right! For kids with physical challenges it will be a welcome accessory for their dolls and dramatic play.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2011.

 

Games

We have so many great games on our Platinum List this year! Since kids play games over and over again, they are a great investment.  Even better, most games hover around the $20 price range-with even greater discounts this time of year!

Here's one that's ideal for family get togethers:

 

 


2011 Award
Reverse Charades Jr. Edition
(Gryphon Games  $25 Score: )

This is definitely more fun when you have a crowd of six or more players. It's played with teams, so divvy up the group and one member of the team is the guesser. A team leader draws a card and everyone on the team acts it out together--while the guesser has one minute on the timer to guess what they are doing. The team gets one point if they get it. Players on each team rotate so everyone has a turn at being a guesser. No talking allowed or you lose a point! There are 750 double-sided cards so you won't be repeating any words soon. Marked 6 & up. We'd say 8's and up will enjoy this even more.  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, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 
Products for Infants
Products for Toddlers
Products for Preschoolers
Products for Early School Years
Products for Later School Years
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