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Product Type: Toys
Award: Gold
Age: Toddlers
Review Year: 2013

 

 
2013 Awards
Kids Preferred The World of Eric Carle Discovery Cube Toy
(Kids Preferred $17 Score:)

 A new and inviting look to a classic toy. This soft fabric cube comes with easy to grasp handles. The cube itself is under-stuffed, making it easier for baby to hold and explore. It has tons of sensory feedback for baby to explore. There are crinkle and rattle sounds, a variety of appliqué textures and moving peek-a-boo flaps for little fingers to lift, plastic rings with bumpy textures to grab and taste, black and white knotties, and the bold animal graphics on each side. A good choice for building knowing and naming language when you talk about the animals and the sounds they make, as well as the featured colors on each side of the cube. A charming toy for introducing the joyful patterns and delicious palette of artist Eric Carle.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Kids Preferred Playtime Plush Toy, The Very Hungry Caterpillar
(Kids Preferred $22 Score:)

There are all kinds of textures and patterns to explore on this huggable fabric caterpillar. Based on the famous Very Hungry Caterpillar, it looks straight out of the pages of the book with its big eyes and multi-colored body. The segments of the soft doll have multi-colored dots on the underside and on top there are other painterly Eric Carle patterns as well as plump parts covered in corduroy, felt, plush, and more cotton. There is a happy looking sun with rays of ribbons as well as iridescent feelers, velour knottie legs, and one segment that plays (hard to activate) electronic music--a small loss since we can do without that kind of high pitched music. Two plastic rings are attached onto the long body with crinkle sounds at both ends. Kids who know the story will enjoy lugging this good sized huggable around with them.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Alex Round the Farm
(Alex $43.99 Score:)

An update of a 2008 Platinum Award winner, this soft fabric ball has new faces, textures and sounds. There are four different animal faces, each with its own set of ears that protrude from the ball and have a sound effect appropriate for the related animal. (The frog ribbits, the cat meows, the cow moos, and the dog woofs.) There is also a small finger hole that baby testers thought was great fun. However, the toy was $24.99 in 2008. Hard to know why it is now almost twice the price. 6 months & up.

SNAP: A fun toy to motivate crawling and for developing language.
Talk about the eyes, mouth and ears of each animal. Play a singing game to the tune of "If you're happy and you know it...clap your hands...etc." Only this time play it by singing about tap the cow's nose, mouth, ears. Play it with each face of the toy and with your child's own mouth, eyes and ears.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Awards
Chicco 3-in-1 Music Band Table
(Chicco $49 Score:)

A versatile activity table with three different musical instruments: drum, maracas and DJ. Kids can play rhythms and keep time with the music, or spin their own music. For music lovers, it may be a stretch to call this a musical toy, but it is about giving tots the powerful sense of making things happen. Sitting-up babies can play their own tunes on the floor while standing-up toddlers can play side by side. Either way, this is a fun way for kids to make things happen. The sounds are not too intrusive. Happily, there are no A-B-C's or numerals to give a false impression of being more educational. But, not to worry. Babies learn a lot about cause and effect from playing with open-ended toys that invite them to turn knobs, spin barrels, and push big buttons. They are also developing eye hand skills and manual dexterity.

SNAP: You may want to tape on a fat foam hair roller to the tiny green knob of the green DJ disk. That will add texture and be easier to grasp for children who need a larger knob. For children who are not standing, the separate pieces can be enjoyed in the lap or the three pieces can fit in the white stand and be played on the floor without the legs.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Plan Toys Fruit and Veggie Domino
(Plan Toys $29 Score:)

28 playing pieces with 7 different fruits and veggies to match up in a traditional domino game. The pressed planwood is smooth and splinter free, though it feels different from old wooden dominos. Use this for reinforcing language and color concepts as well as matching skills and turn taking. They say 2 & up, we think 3's will be better able to do the matching.  Twos may like sorting and stacking them or knocking them down if you line them up and make them go kaboom!

SNAP: Use these for color matching sorting and knowing and naming, before playing a traditional matching game of dominoes. Fun for counting, too. Make stacks of two kinds of fruit. Are there more grapes or more apples.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Lamaze Franky the Hanky Whale
(Tomy $25 Score:)

A soft textured fabric whale comes with bright colored hankies that can disappear into the whale's ribbon trimmed spout and peek-a-boo--they reappear when pulled out of its wide mouth. It has a bold black and white pattern on its underside and crinkle sounds in its fins. A cute way to play around with object permanence and develop fine motor skills in little hands. 9 months & up

SNAP: Use this toy for reinforcing color concepts as you pull the hankies out. Look for other things in the room that are the color of the hankie you put in the spout. Once children have the hang of this add other peek-a-boo surprises to this clever toy that has no finger catches or hard edges. This plays on an old favorite game of filling and dumping. Putting things into a container and taking them develops manual skills as well as proving repetition and a sense of empowerment. Changing the objects to be filled and dumped--or in this case pushed and pulled, adds variety to a useful play mode.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Rock n' Ride Talking Lotty
(Mamas and Papas $129.99 Score:)

A plush seated ride on that converts from rocker to wheeled toy. Unlike other ride- ons, this has a cushioned seat that is more like a soft chair. The wheels do not come off, but slide and are held in place with Velcro straps. Squeeze its ears and it talks or plays music, though you may find the sound a bit loud for very young toddlers. They say 9 months & up, but since there is no safety harness, we think this is a better bet for older tots with more balance than most babies of nine months. We also suggest the soft seat may fall victim to leaking diapers and can only be surface washed, since it is not removable.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Awards
Fisher-Price Rockin Tunes Giraffe
(Fisher-Price $39.99 Score:)

Rockin' Tunes Giraffe responds to your toddler's movements with music, lights, and phrases. The more kids rock the more the lights in Giraffe's mane blink and the music and phrases build. Happily, you can also turn off the sounds and lights or choose a lower volume. We like the low seat, the bat-at roller in  Giraffe's mane. Best of all, the stabile rockers make this ride-on a fun choice for steady on their feet toddlers to mount with some independence. Unlike heirloom style wooden and plush ride-ons, this plastic rocker is quite affordable and will go the distance. A big gift for a little toddler. Need a big 1st or 2nd birthday gift that won't break the bank? This is it! 12-36 months.

SNAP: Aside from the stability of this rocker, it's invitation to physical gross motor play, and its affordability, we like the cause and effect lessons built into the action. The idea of making music go faster the faster you rock gives tots instant feedback that links their actions to making something happen.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Bunnies By the Bay Lily Mae
(Bunnies By the Bay $16 Score:)

Sweet Lily Mae, a soft green froggie wears a petal tutu and purple ballet slippers that do not come off. Lily is a lot cuter in person than her photo shows. She has stitched features and a beanbag bottom that allows her to sit without toppling over. Her skinny legs and arms are easy for tots to grab. She is machine washable and tumbles dry on low heat. Newborns & up.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Playskool Pop N Pick Up Elefun
(Playskool $29.99 Score:)

Toddlers will be popping, chasing, and picking up the five colorful balls that pop out of the blue elephant's trunk. Unlike a lot of pop up toys this does not shoot the balls high or with much force. As tots push the elephant over the balls it scoops them up again. This plays right into the toddler's delight in new-found locomotion as well as their love of repetition. We worried that the toy might be too small for two's, but our tester's dad wrote, "I do not think it is too small for a 2 year old, and Chloe is a large 2 year old. It holds her interest for 10-15 minutes, which is on par with other toys. She loves manually putting the balls in the different holes (trunk, back, bottom), and likes storing them in the handle. The one frustrating thing for her seems to be that sometimes she just wants to walk around with the toy, but it keeps spitting the balls out! Of course, she doesn't yet realize that as long as there are balls in there, it will spit them out. For that reason, the ball storage in the handle is a good idea. For the parent, the annoying thing is that the balls roll all over the place (under the couch, etc.) and we have to find them. Other than that, I think it's a good toy." A great gift for active players 18 months and up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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