Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Construction Toys
Subcategories: Open Ended

 


2014 Award
Quercetti Tubation Transparent
(International Playthings $49.99 Score:)

A 70 piece set of transparent tubes that connect like pipes. What we love about this kind of building set is that it is completely open-ended. Putting the pieces together is not only fun, but it helps build hand-eye coordination, problem solving skills and creativity. Comes with 28 straight pieces, 7 t-shaped pieces, 7 crosses and 28 curved pieces. A nice set to explore together.

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

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2013 Award
Magformers Inspire Sets
(Magformers $24.99-49.99 Score:)

Getting some girls into construction play seems to work by coloring the building materials to their taste. Although we prefer gender free materials, we still think it more important for girls to be building, since this is one of the ways that kids develop their understanding of spatial relationships and basic math concepts. For generations, boys excelled in these areas, in part, because of the experience they had from building models and construction sets. Giving girls construction sets is one way to give girls the mindset and can-do math skills needed for wider career choices. New from Magformers, two gender specific sets of magnetic shapes colored in shades of pink, purple, aqua and blue. Choose a 14 or 30 piece set. Each comes with triangles and squares that can be used to copy models or for open-ended creations and discoveries. All magnets are safely inside the plastic forms. Hands-on experiments help kids discover not only some math concepts, they have to deal directly with the magnetic poles inside the plastic forms, turning them so that they attract. Also see: Magformers Light Show. This combines stealth learning: math, science, visual and manual dexterity, creative problem solving, construction play, imagination, and good fun.  Marked for 3 & up, we think these make more sense for slightly older players.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2001 Awards
Frigits Deluxe
(Think of It! $29.99 Score:) You'll want this on the fridge door! It's great fun to discover the many ways to arrange the magnetic shoots, wheels, and spinners so that the marbles drop into the catch box. 7 & up. SNAP INFO: Kids who might not be able to get down on the floor to make a marble run can do this in a wheelchair at the refrigerator door! It's great fun to discover the many ways to arrange the magnetic chutes, wheels, and spinners so that the marbles drop into the catch box. Marbles do fall off easily while the run is being constructed, so have a large supply of extra marbles on hand..

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2001.

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2000 Awards
Expandagon Hoberman Kit
(Hoberman Designs $40 Score:) You've probably seen Hoberman's spheres in science museums, but now kids can create flexible geometric shapes with simple connections. Sets have expandable squares that are key to making big structures. The manual could be a little more user friendly, but once you get started this is an addictive toy. PLATINUM AWARD '00. An Expandagon Actuator, a turntable display stand that motorizes creations looked promising but was not ready for testing. ($30). 8 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2000.

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2001 Awards
Block-N-Roll
(Taurus Toys $19.99 Score:) A new twist on marble runs, this engrossing multipiece set (60 & 100) has blocks with grooves, drop-through slots, ramps, and turns that link together to make an endless variety of runways. New for 2001, they have added new twists with Loop-D-Loops ($4.95).

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2001.

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2002 Award
Lincoln Logs Commemorative Edition
(K'NEX Industries $29.99 Score:) Good news! Last year's splintery Lincoln Logs are gone! These are smooth and ouch-free. Keep in mind that building log houses requires visual discrimination and dexterity. Testers loved that big Commemorative Edition with 115 pieces in a giant tin. Most fours can't do these- save them for 5s. 6s and 7s.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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2003 Award
Ello
(Mattel $19.95 Score:) Designed to attract girls to construction toys, this is an innovative building system with panels and Matisse-inspired cutout disks that can be joined with square and circular connectors, string and slender sticks for adding extra flair. Research has indicated that playing with blocks and building sets help to develop important spatial relations and math skills needed for later achievement in math, engineering and science. Unfortunately too many sets on the market are geared only for boys. We particularly liked the look of the Ello-opolis set, which has a modern art feel, or the underwater Ello Aquaria set. (Imagine Matisse or Calder designing a construction set!) They have an engaging color palette (refreshingly not all pink!) and have interesting building pieces that lend themselves for open-ended play.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2005 Award
Geomag
(Ekos $20 Score:) We love these open-ended magnetic sets. Put one on the coffee table and everyone will take a turn. Geomag comes with straight magnetic rods in different colors and steel balls. The rods are not tapered like the competing Supermag sets (although our testers judged them to be equally enjoyable to use.) Geomag Panel kits were interesting at first, but not as open-ended as the classic sets. (888) 450-9858.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
WEBZ 108
(Progressive Trading Inc. $49.95 Score:) Another generation of magnetic connectors and steel balls have arrived in time for the holiday season. This amazing set has 48 gem-toned transparent web plates in three different sizes and 60 steel balls to create a never-ending variety of constructions. This set includes 3, 4,and 5-armed pieces that can be combined with bars and balls. There is no right or wrong way to do this, but lots of ways to experiment with creating domes, towers and other inventive creations. A smaller set, Webz 54 ($24.95)is fun but not nearly as versatile as the larger set. Both sets are compatible with Magz X and Skrooz- the original rod and magnet sets we have reviewed in the past.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Awards
MagneBlocks
(MagneBlocks $10 Score:) During the past few years we have seen an abundance of magnetic toys. This is a new concept that works differently from the rod and ball construction sets. It comes with colorful cubes, pentagons, prisms, pyramids, tetrahedrons, and steel balls. A challenging instruction guide walks players through interesting combinations that give children hands-on understanding of magnetic poles as they experiment with making complex shapes. These blocks come in smaller kits, but with limited pieces we suspect they will get little use. An excellent math and science toy that encourages children to use divergent thinking skills as they explore the physical attributes of various shapes and how they can be combined. With the big Constructa set ($99) the possibilities are endless. Be forewarned: Getting the pieces back in the box with the plastic holders is not likely. You can remove the liner or you may want to keep the pieces in an open basket on a coffee table for quiet moments.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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