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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2014 Award
InnoTab3S Plus
(VTech $79 Score:)

If sharing your ipad sounds like risky business to you, there are a number of kid friendly tablets to consider. The InnoTab3 has a built-in camera with funny effects, a movie-maker, art studio, e-reader, and is a game machine with a library of add-on games designed to support reading, math, geography, handwriting and science. Comes with 12 apps and rechargeable Power Pack. Additional games are in the $16-17 price range. Parents tell us that kids liked the stylus and movie editor feature, but the graphics are less good than what kids expect at this point. Our testers gave a higher rating to LeapFrog's LeapPad3 in terms of graphics.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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LeapFrog LeapBand
(LeapFrog $39.99 Score:)

Kids usually like wearing and using tech products their parents are using and the LeapBand is a kid's version of your activity band. However, it doesn't count steps or distance or calories like the grown up kinds, but is designed to encourage activities that do keep kids moving, which is a good thing. The pet pal can be customized so kids earn points by completing 50 active challenges, such as 'pounce like a lion' or 'walk like a crab' or 'spin like a helicopter.' Our testers found this a novelty, but way too over-sized and bulky for kid-sized wrists and kids did not want to wear it for long. Available in pink, blue and gender-free green. Though they look similar, this is nothing like the VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch, which is really a watch/camera/recorder. 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch
(VTech $69.99 Score:)

Though they look similar, this is nothing like the LeapFrog LeapBand. It is not an activity tracker, but more like a camera and recording machine. Kids can take photos and videos with fun effects. It also has a voice recorder with voice-changing effects as well as games and a touch screen. Finally, it is also a watch with analog and digital displays. Although parents liked the learning games they could down load, kids and parents found it annoyingly huge and bulky for kid-sized wrists. Testers seemed to like the voice changer recorder the best. Available in pink, blue and gender-free green. Marked 3-9, testers felt it too complex for very young and too babyish for the upper range listed. We think the sweet spot for novelty this is more like 6-7. 

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Fisher Price Imaginext DC Super Friends RC Transforming Batbot
(Fisher Price $64.99 Score:)

With over 100 sound effects and phrases this Batbot is part robot/ part tank that operates with a full function remote control. Little brothers and sisters will be impressed (and maybe a little scared) when the Bat Bot's eyes light up. It has a disk launcher, a batman figure, and both arms rotate 90 degrees. Our seven year old tester's eyes lit up when he saw this toy in the box and his delight only grew as he played with it, transforming it from bot to tank and back again and activating the many phrases and motions. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Awards
Road Rippers Piston Thumper Ford Raptor
(Toy State $19.99 Score:)

For noisy toy fans, this will do it, big time. The F-150 SVT Raptor has lights and lots of roaring beeping and thumping sounds that will delight kids until someone yells--turn that #*@#& off! That said, it's a showy gift for the price and you can always let the batteries go dead and still have a powerful looking SVT for dramatic play. Takes 3 AA batteries.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
eeBoo Color Pencils Striped Biggies
(eeBoo $7.99 & up Score:)

Designed for small hands these oversized colored pencils come in sets of 12 or 24 along with a special sized sharpener. The delicious colors will make paper and pencil tasks more fun and may be just the right inducement for kids who are just starting to write words and letters in school. As the box says, they are shorter than most pencil sets, but jumbo in thickness, giving beginners a broader line and more control. Drawing, coloring or writing, these are terrific tools for developing eye hand and for refining those small muscles in the fingers and hand that are needed for the task. Bring home a Sketchbook with elves carrying Striped Biggies. 5 & up.

SNAP For all the reasons stated above, these are a good choice that will make pencil tasks more pleasing.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Lydia, Your Georgian Girl
(Girls for All Time $109.99 Score:)

Travel with Lydia, a stunning 18th Century girl who leaves England in 1760 with her family to settle in Colonial Boston. She wears a charming buttery yellow gown trimmed with rosettes and lace. Her long dark brunette locks are waiting to be brushed and admired as her fortunate owner enjoys reading Lydia's story in the book, Lydia in the New World (book available in 2015). Also available for Lydia a lovely teal blue party dress trimmed with Chinese braid and cream colored underskirt. Or she also might like a totally perfect riding outfit with a skirt of blue linen, a white shirt with cravat and a double breasted brass buttoned blue jacket. This is a doll for older girls with a beginning sense of world history and perhaps an interest in fashion in history. She is meant to be played with, though collectors will certainly like her, as well. Visit a girlforalltime.com site for recipes, history and other information about Lydia.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Faber-Castell Gel Sticks
(Faber-Castell $12.99 Score:)

Kids are going to love the buttery Gel Sticks that can be used for drawing and then turned into water color paintings with a paintbrush and water. These are not to be confused with the also wonderful Gel Crayons that are not water soluble. You will want to protect the table surface where they work, since these are a bit messier than regular crayons, but also far more versatile.  You get 12 gel sticks and a paintbush in the set. This would make a great stocking stuffer.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Hot Wheels Spin King
(Toy State $14.99 Score:)

A showy present, this blue racer is not only motorized to rev up and roll, it lights up and even plays some music. A great novelty toy that is sure to please any 3 & up on your list. May not go the distance and requires three AA batteries, but if you shop you will find it for even less than the sticker price and appreciate it for the short term novelty fun it provides.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
eeBoo United States Geography Bingo
(eeBoo $15.99 Score:)

Maps of the United States are divided into six regional sections and players vie to be the first to cover all the products their states are known for producing. The back of each playing board lists the states, the capitals, state flower, nickname and state motto. Marked for 5 & up, but we think it is probably maker a greater hit with slightly older kids who are hungry for information and curious about maps. 6-9.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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