Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Games
Subcategories: Letters, Words and Reading


2014 Awards
Spot It! Disney Planes Alphabet Game
(Blue Orange Games $14 Score:)

Take your choice of licenses: Planes, Sofia the First, or Frozen, whatever appeals to your preschooler, this is a fun way to learn their letters by finding matching letters or images on a pair of cards. Kids identify the letter pairs by name and shape so this is a playful way to reinforce letter recognition. There are three ways to play with the 55 cards that fit neatly back in their round tin for take along ease. There is also a preschool game for matching numbers and shapes. Marked 3 & up, we think it is probably a better bet for 4-5's.

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

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2014 Awards
Plan Toys Braille Alphabet
(Plan Toys $29.99 Score:)

Two-sided wooden alphabet pieces have upper case on one side and lower case on the reverse. Made of wood, they are smooth and have a corner bent for ease of lifting and turning. They also have Braille symbols on each side. Use these for playing knowing and naming letter or sound games. Sort them by finding all the straight edged letters and then find all the ones with rounded lines. Plan Toys uses sustainable rubber wood that is coated with a non-toxic finish and colors from vegetable dye. Marked for 2 & up. We'd say more like a 3-5 year old choice.

SNAP: Useful for all sorts of knowing and naming letter names and sound games. Introduce just a few pieces at a time and play with those names and sounds.

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

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2012 Award
Jumbo Bananagrams
(Bananagrams $39 Score:)

Instead of the usual small letter tiles, this Jumbo set comes with 144 tiles that are over 3-inches squares and made of a pliable material. Ideal for playing out of doors, on the floor of the family room, or in the classroom. Players do not take turns as you do in Scrabble. Game play is faster and everyone plays at their own level. With younger kids, try playing on teams or cooperatively. Each play takes 11-21 tiles, depending on the number of players. Someone says SPLIT and all players turns over their tiles and arrange and rearrange them until someone, who has used all his tiles yells PEEL! And takes one more tile from the spare Bunch. Everyone else must also take one tile. A player who cannot use a tile can throw it back but has to take three in exchange.  Play continues until there are no tiles left in the spare Bunch and one player has gotten rid of all his or her tiles. This is great multigenerational game for family gatherings. Be forwarned this Jumbo Set is physically heavy!

For a smaller and less expensive game, check out the original Banangrams($14.99) or the company's Zip It!, both good games for home or easy to pack travel toys.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on

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2012 Award
Pathwords Jr.
(ThinkFun $19.99 Score:)

Remember your word maze games? Playing Pathwords is a bit like finding those words. It's a single player game with a book of words that fits under a playing board grid. The player must find the words in the "Find" list and then cover them with the colored see-though playing pieces. The words can be spelled backwards and forward and require overcoming some spatial challenges. There are 40 puzzles in the spiral book that progress from easy to far more difficult. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on

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2012 Award
Jumbo Zip-It
(Bananagrams $44.95 Score:)

Like the original Zip it Game, this is a 2-player game with wooden cubes that are used to form crossword grids. These cubes are several times larger than the original cubes and may be easier for beginning spellers to read quickly. Each player takes twelve cubes and can use any side of the cube to make a crossword grid with her own cubes. The first person to use all her cubes wins the round and advances the zipper on the cloth container one point. The first player to move their zipper ten times wins the game. As with other games from Bananagram, the game play is faster since you are not taking turns but making your own crossword as best you can. Be forewarned, these jumbo playing pieces are physically heavy. A good choice for mixed age groups. The game comes with ideas of how to play a rhyming version as well as ways of scoring long words and palindromes. Your kids will probably come up with their own playful ways of using these cubes, such as a stacking the cubes to make words that can be read from the top down or bottoms up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2012.

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2001 Award
Leap Phonics Pond
(LeapFrog $34.99 Score:) Kids who are playing with letter names and sounds will like the instant feedback of this electronic toy. Push the letter and it says its name, put it in another mode and it says the letter's sound. But many of the spelling games here are better for fives & sixes. SNAP INFO: For knowing and naming letter names and sounds this electronic toy offers ways to practice. It is less preschoolish than other Leap Frog products since it moves on to spelling lessons. Unlike many other products in this maker's line, the letters do not come out( or get lost) and they are written in lower case as well as upper case.

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

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2001 Award
Kids' Book of Questions Truth or Dare Game
(Deciper $18.95 Score:) Players choose from the Truth or Dare cards and must answer questions or perform a "dare" for points. A fun game for 710swe doubt that older kids will play it. A good choice for a sleep-over party for kids who can read. The dare cards don't push the limits in terms of safety or bad taste.

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

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2000 Awards
Letter Detective
(Ravensburger $18 Score:) Kids who are learning their letters often benefit from getting the feel of the shape of letters as well as their look. This game comes with a box that kids put their hands in to feel and try to name the letters. Don't put all the letters in at the start. Use a few letters. If your child is working on sounds play a game by asking them to say the letter and a word that begins with that letter's sound. SNAP INFO: This game centers on a special box that kids can put their hands into and feel letters that they try to identify by touch. Start with just a few letters rather than the whole alphabet. There are several games suggested that our testers enjoyed. Adaptation: You can also use this well-made box for other feel-and-say games with shapes, textures, numerals and other objects. This is a good game that provides multi-sensory experiences. It is obviously a good one for kids with visual impairments.

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

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2002 Award
(Prodijeux Inc. $28.95 Score:) Fans of Scrabble, Upwords and other Word games will find this an interesting and challenging variation. It's harder than Upwards and different from Scrabble. Players create words of three letters or more. Opponents can steal words by adding at least one letter to make a new word. Players cannot add S to nouns but they can to verbs. Can be played by 2,3,4 players or by teams. We think some 10's will enjoy this- others may benefit from playing on teams with older players. Game takes about 30 minutes and comes with a timer for rounds. We suggest playing with out the timer for beginners. 866-FUN-WORD.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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2004 Award
eeBoo Travel Bingo
(eeBoo $10 Score:)

Traveling with your kids can be a challenge - especially after the excitement of being on the go wanes (that usually gets you about a good ten minutes in the car!) .An old-fashioned game that still helps pass the time while you're on the road with your kids. Comes with four bingo pads and four pencils. Objects to look for include stop signs, bikes, flags, cows, railroad crossing signs, etc. 4 & up.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2004. Click here to purchase the product on

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