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2015 Awards
Kids Preferred Carter's Activity Octopus
(Kids Preferred $22 Score:)

Hang this in the stroller for gazing at and then use it for an interesting lap toy that rattles and has big stitched features. Best of all it has eight crinkly-sounding arms. Each has a different color and texture for baby to explore. Some are cotton, some velour and others in cord. All have knotties that will be interesting for baby to touch and taste, for sure. There is a textured teether attached along with a small fish that rattles. Infants.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Award
eeBoo Portraits of Nature 64 piece Puzzle
(eeBoo $12.99 Score:)

Kids will be challenged to fit together two parts of the many animals featured on this handsome 64 piece puzzle illustrated by artist, Melissa Sweet. They'll have portraits of 36 creatures on a 15 X 15 inch puzzle. A fun puzzle for knowing and naming as well as dexterity and problem solving. Also, from the same artist, Growing a Garden with lots of plants to know, name and even read, since they are labeled. These have god sized pieces for younger puzzlers. 5 & up.

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

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2015 Award
Educational Insights Design & Drill Flower Power Studio
(Educational Insights $32.99 Score:)

What every girl needs! A power drill that has two bits and 60 colorful bolts to screw in and out of the flower shaped platform. Cleverly designed, the platform doubles as a carrying case to store the drill, design pieces, and bolts. Great for developing eye-hand coordination, making and seeing patterns, color concepts, counting and pretend fun. The drill requires 3 AA batteries that are not included. Most drill toys of this kind are gender specific for boys, so this is something of a breakthrough. The company also makes a hand operated bolt set for girls that is not powered by batteries called Dazzling Creations, that demands more action in the hands. The bolts get fitted into a crown, a ball gown, a castle and a horses head, pretty stereotyped choices, but probably fun for some girls, but we prefer the open-ended appeal of the Flower Power Studio. For both boys and girls be sure to look at this company's Bright Works version with power drill and light-up platform. Marked 3 & up, but may be better for upper ranges of preschool.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
USA Map 100 Piece Puzzle
(Purple Cow $10 Score:)

For kids learning their way around maps, this company has a series of attractive 100-piece puzzles that come in eye-catching globe-shaped containers. We tested the USA map and putting it together is challenging since the pieces are small. But there are lots of clues such as state names that are broken in two and the frame with flat sides. Marked for 6-99, we suspect this is a better bet for slightly older school aged kids, say 8 & up. If you like this one you will also want to consider the World Map, Solar System, and Europe.

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

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2015 Award
My Family Trivia Game
(Purple Cow $12 Score:)

We like this unusual multi-generational games that will be fun for a family occasions since it calls for a lot of talking and sharing of family stories. Players must collect six different colored cards that are drawn randomly from the pile. The tasks on the cards require players to tell about themselves or things they know about other players in the game. For example one task card asks a player to name "all my cousins from oldest to youngest" or to tell "an object I could not live without" or "three places where we have relatives." There are a few picture cards, too, that are supposed to evoke family stories that relate to your family. An uncomplicated game that is sure to produce good laughs and happy memories, this is designed for 3-7 players ages 6-99.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Award
Geosafari Jr. Sneak and Peek Periscope
(Educational Insights $19.95 Score:)

Peek around corners, from behind rocks or trees; this 14" periscope is good fun for pretend play and young scientists who want to watch creatures without being seen. It has a wide viewer so kids can use both eyes. The two easy to grasp handles are designed for small hands. One has a switch so kids can use the LED light for nighttime explorations. Takes 2 AAA batteries, not included. Though it's marked 4 and up, we think early school years kids will like this best. 

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

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2015 Award
Geosafari Jr. Bugopticals
(Educational Insights $12.95 Score:)

A handheld dragonfly has six wings with lenses that invite all kinds of exploration. Each of three wings have a primary color lens that can be overlapped to create secondary colors. Two of the lenses have magnifiers; one is 2X the other 5X, perfect for exploring bark, leaves, bugs, or indoor surfaces and letters. Or overlap the two and get another enlarged view of the world. A sixth lens is faceted like an insect's eye, so they can see how the world looks from a bug's eye view. 3 & up

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

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2015 Award
Educational Insights Crazy Cereal Electronic Game
(Educational Insights $24.99 Score:)

Dig into the fun with two electronic spoons that change colors as you play. The object is to pick up cereal pieces from the big bowl that match your spoon's color of the moment. With luck your spoon will start flashing and you get to pick up even more pieces to put in your own bowl. The one with the most cereal wins. A fun family game with kids who are old enough to understand the colorful plastic cereal pieces are not for eating. This is about color matching, dexterity and counting to see who wins. 4 & up.

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

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2015 Award
Buddy Ball
(Maxland Toys $29.99 Score:)

Is it a ball? Is it a bear? It's a fabric ball with a big zipper. Open the zipper and abra-ka-dabra a velvety soft teddy bear emerges! Zip up its back and it's an all new play mode. So, this is a two-in-one winner. Fabric ball and plush bear all rolled up in one. They come with textured or traditional plush in tan, dark brown and off white. All very huggable or tossable. 3 & up  www.buddyballs.com

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Award
eeBoo Beautiful Morning Panoramic Puzzle
(eeBoo $12.99 Score:)

Just in time for spring a garden full of bright tulips being picked by bear and bunny while others plant a garden, fly kites, ride bikes and enjoy the glory of springtime. Big pieces are perfect for preschoolers small hands. It's a 36-piece puzzle that forms a three foot long picture by illustrator, Kevin Hawkes. Also good fun from the same artist, Busy Vehicles, an illustration with little animals in vehicles made of carrots, bananas, cabbages and other fantasy vehicles that fly, float and roll along. 3 & up.

Age: . Award Year: 2015.

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