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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 Emily, 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 Awards
Fisher-Price 3-in-1 Bounce, Stride and Ride Elephant
( $44.99 Score:)

A versatile toy that can be used as a seat for bouncing on, as a ride on with foot to the floor action, or they can stand behind it and push. It has music and lights and happily, it has a button to turn the sound off. Some assembly is needed but it is not difficult. A word of warning, your baby will need to have long enough legs to straddle it. marked 9 months to 3 years, but the sweet spot for this is more like 12-18 months.

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

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2014 Awards
Infantino Safari Fun Twist and Fold Activity Gym & Play Mat
(Infantino $45.99 Score:)

A portable play mat and activity gym with lots of colorful patterns to explore. It has four overhead toys for gazing, reaching out and batting at, too. You can remove the toys and add others for sparking interest. There is also a small mirror and a pillow for propping baby on for tummy time. It is approx. a 29-inch square and folds easily. Though there are gender specific mats around, we like this gender neutral one with primary colors. If you are looking for an oversized mat for twins, check out Mamas and Papas Large Activity Floor Mat.

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

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2014 Award
KaZam Balance Bike v2e
(KaZam Bikes $59.95 Score:)


We told you about the classic KaZam balance bike last year and now our tester, who loved the original, likes the newer model even more. Like the original, kids can sit, walk, glide, coast and balance, but this is lighter than the original and has tires that are like the ones of baby strollers. It also has a new and improved frame and ergonomic footrest. Comes in a wide variety of colors.

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

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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 Awards
Manhattan Toy Playtime Activity Cart
(Manhattan Toy $74 Score:)

For toddlers, a cart for loading and unloading is a favorite plaything. Unlike many so-called walkers for the less than steady on their feet beginners, this one is surprisingly stabile, even for tots who are still pulling themselves up. It has stoppers on the back that add stabilization. It is not weighted, but very well designed and well-balanced. It also has sliding gears on the side for sit-down fun. The wooden cart has a fabric pouch that attaches with Velcro-like closures and its big wooden wheels have rubber treads for better traction. This is a piece of basic gear that will transport dolls, teddy bears, blocks and whatever else your toddler decides needs to be on the move. Though it is pricey, it is painted in gender free bright primary colors, it can be passed along to baby brothers and sisters and cousins in the family. 12 months and up.

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

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2014 Awards
Alilo G6 Cute Rabbit Player Children's English Song & Story Player Machine
(Alilo $49.99 Score:)

An awesome bunny (available in pink or blue, that is a combination night light, music player, story teller, recorder and customizable player that you can start using with infants and well beyond. The pre-recorded music, both songs an just instrumental, is pleasant and not the typical tinny electronic stuff. Push the light switch and bunny's ears light up and change color slowly and without big brightness. It comes with 20 nursery rhymes and stories that preschoolers will enjoy and you can customize it and add your own stories and music. The plastic body is made tough and the battery is rechargable. You can lock the settings and oh, yes, the volume control(built into the tail) is easy to adjust and has some real range, not just high and low. It comes loaded with a micro SD card slot and mini USB port to update content. One of the most innovative toys we received late this holiday season. Marked 12 months and up, though we think the music on a table in an infants's room would be fine. It's not a toy you would give a 12 month old to handle either. For the very young, this is a listening or watching toy. Preschoolers are the ones who will want to learn how to push the buttons.

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

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2014 Awards
Early Years Stack N Nest Cups
(International Playthings $7.99 Score:)

Looking for a toy that will go the distance? A classic set of nesting cups may look old fashioned, but to your baby they are new and loaded with fascination! With their wide easy to grasp rims, these cups are fun for floor play as well as the tub. They have safety holes in the bottom, so they cannot form a vacuum on baby's face. These are what must-have basic gear for sitting up babies. No bells, whistles or lightsójust solid hands-on play with seven bright cups that stack into a 12-inch tower or nest neatly inside of each other.

note: the link online calls this a toddler toy, but the box is marked as it should be : 6 months and up.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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