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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2015 Award
Gamewright Dragonwood
(Gamewright $14.99 Score:)

Billed as a game of dice and daring, we have to say, enter the mythical forest at your own risk! Dragonwood is the frightful habitat of all manner of nasty ogres, goblins and firebreathing-you-know-whats. Our test family gave it high grades for entertaining fun for kids and adults alike. When asked, 'What did you like about it?' they said, 'Everything!' What didn't they like? Their answer was 'Nothing!'

Youll need to collect adventurer cards to earn dice to out-toss your opponents. It takes strategy to make your way through and a good dose of courage will help, too. There are a lot of rules to master here, but this is the kind of game that goes on for at least 20 minutes and will capture the imagination of 8's and up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Hasbro Scrabble Twist
(Hasbro $20 Score:)

How many words can you make with the same five letter choices that come up on the hand held game machine? Tap the letters and give it a twist and make as many words as possible before the timer runs out. You get 3 points for 3 letter words, 5 points for four letter words and 7 points for five letter words. You can play Solo, set it for two players on Turbo, or set it for Party for 2-8 players that gets passed around a circle. If the word is good the machine will play a you got it sound. If its not good you will see all Xs on the screen. Take this along for waiting games in the car or elsewhere. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Smithsonian Museum Craft Kit Triceratops
(Skullduggery $24.99 Score:)

Our 7 and 10-year old testers really liked all the steps of this plaster mold kit. In three easy steps, it is designed so kids get to turn the powder into plaster that pours into the mold and dries in about 45 minutes. Although they were less than thrilled with coloring the poster setting, they liked painting the pieces and pasting them to the poster. There is also a set with horses, one with three space crafts, and a skeleton, a pre-med kit for learning the names of the bones for serious minded crafters. The finished pieces are not standing models. They can only be displayed lying on the poster. 8 & up

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
K'nex Mighty Makers: Up, Up and Away Building Set
(K'nex $19.99 Score:)

Designed to appeal to girls, this is one of many models that K'nex has packaged with a female character and pastel building pieces. Though we think girls should not need gender speciafic building toys, we take seriously the fact that learning from building is a basic and too long overlooked. This Up, up and away set comes with clear instructions for building a small but satisfying airplane. Build it four different ways with directions for optional vehicles. 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Mindware Leaps and Ledges
(MindWare $30 Score:)

They call this a towering game of strategy and luck and that is a good description of a challenging but entertaining fast-paced game. Players try to be first to the top of the tall tower without getting sabotaged by opponents who can send them down or even knock them off. Our testers and their parents gave this a 5+ rating, which says a lot, since they are regular game testers. It does require a fair amount of sportsmanship when your playing pieces get knocked down, so it may be better to play as teams or play this with the older members of the family. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
K'nex Mighty Makers Inventor's Clubhouse
(KNEX $49.99 Score:)

Designed to appeal to girls, this is the top of the line building set complete with motor and over 528 K'nex pieces and parts. Along with the motor it comes with pulleys and gears, wheels, star snaps, graphic panels and color coded intructions for many kinds of mechanical builds. Although we think gilrs should be able to enjoy gender free building sets, we know from research that they are less often chosen or gifted to girls. We are happy to see the options in play expanding as more building toys are being marketed to girls and such toys will help enable girls to develop spatial skills and enthusiasm for engineering and problem solving. This is a set that gives girls the tools for building from the instructions and then going on to build their own creations. Keep in mind that K'nex requires strong hands and is not always easy for beginners. Marked for 7 and up, we think 7's will need lots of help to get started. We also suggest it will be enjoyed more by slightly older girls.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
eeBoo 24 Color Pencil Sets & Sketch Books
(eeBoo $6 & 13 Score:)

Our testers continue to love eeBoo's 24 color pencil sets ($13) with matching sketchpads($6). This season you'll find a pad and pencil set in paper boxes instead of tins, decorated with airplanes by Ross MacDonald, colorful birds and flowers by Saxton Freymann and colorful cats by Monika Forsberg. As always the quality of spiral notebooks and colored pencils is excellent and there is no better way to encourage kids to develop their writing skills than with the fun activity of drawing. Send a box to your summer camper that may pay off in colorful letters. Blank paper and drawing their own ideas are better choices than coloring books that require staying inside the lines. For now, let them create the lines and spin their own stories about what they are drawing. 6-9

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Award
Alex Drawing Tool Box
(Alex $39.99 Score:)

A tool kit for older school-aged kids packed with colored pencils, pastels, charcoal pencils, sketchpad, sharpener, blending stumps, a white and a kneaded eraser, and bendable mannequin figure for learning to draw the human figure. Everything fits into the easy to take along case with a shelf inside for easy storage. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Janod Floor Puzzle ABC Monsters
(Janod $25 Score:)

Funny Alphabet letters with googly eyes and smiling faces stand out on a black background. Giant puzzle pieces make this right for younger kids who will be amused as they put these playful letters together to form the alphabet. A good choice for kids who are working on the names and sounds of letters. This comes in a handsome carrying case that will hold the puzzles pieces for safe keeping between times. Remember, kids like to do their puzzles over and over again until they master them. This one has no frame for finding the outside pieces, so the letter names are going to be important clues. There is also a chart that can be used for reference clues. It's still a good idea to show beginners how to use the straight sided pieces for making a frame of their own. 4-7

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
eeBoo 208 Piece Garden Creatures
(eeBoo $13.99 Score:)

One of six puzzles based on 19th Century chromolithographs. This one has 36 insects in various states of flying, creeping, and metamorphing. Also our favorites in the series, Wildlife of North America, and Wildlife of Africa. These are not simple with 200+ pieces and will challenge older and experienced puzzle builders. That said, these will be fun to do as a cooperative project and the creatures are labeled on the box, for identifying the assembled creatures.  8 and up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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