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Product Type: Toys
Age: Preschoolers

 


2014 Award
Janod Mila Plays Fairy Puzzle
(Janod $19.99 Score:)

Bring home this carrying case with four small puzzles inside. Here, Mila and her friends are dressed in fairy costumes with wings and magic wands. For preschoolers, present the simple 6-piece puzzle first. Then move on to the 9-piece puzzle. On another day, introduce the 12 and 16-piece puzzles. These are going to be challenging since the backs of the puzzles are not color-coded and the background on three of the four puzzles is the same. Parents will need to sort them out if the puzzles get mixed together. Each of the four puzzles comes in its own plastic baggie. They need to be kept separated. Naturally, they get progressively harder, so you may want to put the harder ones away and introduce them gradually. That said, the picture cues on the carrying case will help. Marked 3-6; but we think this will work best for 4's who have done lots of puzzles; not for beginners.  Walter’s Scooter is another of the puzzle sets of four related puzzles.

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

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2014 Award
Janod Who Am I? Game
(Janod $19.99 Score:)

Who Am I is a two player attribute game that is something like the classic game of Battleship for younger players. Each player picks one animal face that the other player cannot see. Players take turns asking questions about their opponent’s animal. Does your animal have glasses? If the answer is no the questioner crosses out all the animals with glasses. A marker is provided with a sponge eraser that removes the markings at the end of each round. By a process of elimination players deduce what animal their opponent has selected. This is a game that requires players to look at details and listen to clues. The game board reverses to reveal a whole other set of creatures. We have had other similar games, this one is slightly more complex and beautifully executed. They say 4-7, we think fours can play this with a partner but not solo. That said this is an excellent choice for beginning readers who need to learn about looking closely at details. Instead of looking for the fine difference between bed and bad, here the game is played with pictorial details that are less abstract for beginners.

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

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2014 Award
Janod Pierre's Helicopter Puzzle
(Janod $19.99 Score:)

Bring home this carrying case with four small puzzles inside. In the easiest puzzle Pierre is seen flying alone. In the 2nd puzzle he appears to be bringing in someone who is injured. Puzzles 3 and four show Pierre about to leave and actually flying away. For preschoolers, present the simple 6-piece puzzle first. Then move on to the 9-piece puzzle. On another day, introduce the 12 and 16-piece puzzles. These are going to be challenging since the backs of the puzzles are not color-coded and the background on three of the four puzzles is the same. Parents will need to sort them out if the puzzles get mixed together. Each of the four puzzles comes in its own plastic baggie. They need to be kept separated. Naturally, they get progressively harder, so you may want to put the harder ones away and introduce them gradually. That said, the picture cues on the carrying case will help. Marked 3-6; but we think this will work best for 4's who have done lots of puzzles; not for beginners.   Walter's Scooter is another of the puzzle sets of four related puzzles.

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

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2014 Award
My Princess Crown
(Seedling $23.99 Score:)

Girls can design their own princess crown with the makings in this charming kit. There's a precut pink felt crown that gets laced with ribbon supplied along with glitter glue, felt butterflies, gemstones, and east to follow instructions. The trick with this kind of project is to allow the glue to dry even though most little Princesses can hardly wait to wear their creations. 4 and up.

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

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2014 Award
Peaceable Kingdom Sunny Day Pond
(Peaceable Kingdom $15.99 Score:)

A ducky cooperative game that develops color matching, puzzle building, and fine motor skills. The big playing board has the images of three different four-piece puzzles. Players use the spinner on their turn that tells them what color puzzle piece they can take and match on the playing board. If you spin a rain-drop you must put one under the cloud. The object is for everyone to cooperatively finish the puzzles before there are no rain-drops left. So you are all playing against the game and the rain. Good fun, as well as helping beginners use their fine motor skill by learning how to rotate jigsaw puzzle pieces and fit them together. 3 & up.


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

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2014 Awards
Clifford the Big Red Dog Food Science Kit
(The Young Scientists Club $19.99 Score:)

One of the award winning Young Scientist Club kits designed for preschoolers. These are age appropriate experiments for parent & child projects. An interesting way to introduce preschoolers to some fundamental science experiences. Most of the ingredients needed have to come from your refrigerator or pantry. The kit contains a paper booklet with recipes for each experiment and some minimal plastic pieces: a funnel, tray, test tubes, two so-called cups, a lab tray, pipette, spoon, clothespin, special papers, and sticks for rock candy making. Be forewarned, the images and text may be a bit confusing. For example, the recipe for making ice cream says to use a "measuring cup" and the illustration further confounds the confusion by showing a hand with a good size cup in it, but do not use your own measuring cup. You are supposed to use the thimble-size measuring cup in the kit or there is no way the ingredients will fit in the plastic bags they provide. An unfortunate choice of words or materials. That said, the ideas here are going to be appealing to kids and promote the world of STEM right from the start. 3-6

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

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2014 Awards
Tobo Toy Track Set
(Tobo Toys $40 Score:)

Our testers liked this versatile and unusual new track that comes with only one small wooden car, but will be used with other vehicles and wooden train track set-ups. The twelve wooden pieces have multiple interlocking tabs in several shapes that are imprinted with numerals to match up. There are a variety of ways to make these connections, so in spite of the numerals, it is a pretty open-ended track that is compatible with Hot Wheels, Thomas & Friends, Brio and other car and train tracks. A fun accessory for problem solving, matching numerals, fine motor skills, creative thinking, and giving old track toys a new possibilities. 3 & up.

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

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2014 Awards
Creativity for Kids My First Fun Felt Masks
(Creativity for Kids $14.99 Score:)

Designed for young crafters, this kit comes with six colorful foam-backed felt masks that are already to wear with adjustable elastic bands and tons of felt stickers, self-adhesive rhinestones, curly yarn that is silky to the touch and instructions. Most kids will have their own ideas on how to make a one-of-a-kind mask. This is a mess-free kit with no glue needed. While this is a kit that can be enjoyed solo, it’s also grand for a birthday or Halloween party activity—the masks becomes a favor to take home; also a good choice to share on a playdate. 3 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Calico Critters Berry Grove Elementary School
(International Playthings $79.99 Score:)

Fans of Calico Critters will love this two-level school setting that comes with desks, chairs, a working clock, books and even an apple for the teacher. Our testers always love the minature world of these little animal families. In keeping with the new school theme, there is also a wonderful new School Bus that comes with a working handle that opens the door (very neat). Critters can also be accessed through the opening on the top of the bus. New families for 2014 include: Beavers, Chipmunks and Polar Bears. The "family" can also get about in the new very spiffy Cherry Cruiser. One note: The school and bus do not come with any Calico Critters even though the box shows them so occupied.

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

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2014 Award
My New York Puzzle
(Duo Press $10.99 Score:)

A handsomely illustrated puzzle that features Lady Liberty in the harbor with fireworks in the background. One of two new landmark puzzles from Duo Press. The other is My San Francisco puzzle that features the Golden Gate Bridge. Just right for young puzzlers with 20 large sturdy pieces. We hope this is the beginning of a new series!

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

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