Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Pretend Play

 


2014 Award
Spinmaster DigiBirds
(Spinmaster $24.99 Score:)

Choose from various colors of these singing birds to perch on your fingers. Blow on it or whistle to it or play it with an app and your little DigiBird will sing to you. It is programmed to play 20 songs and you get 14 more on their website or still more with the app. The birdhouses are stackable just in case you need more than one singing bird. This comes with two sets of batteries, but they are hearing aid batteries and it is therefore not a toy for the very young. 5 & up.

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

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2014 Awards
Hape Dream House
(HaPe $199.99 Score:)

Our tester loves the see-through elevator that runs up and down the outside of this three-story house with chalk siding so kids can customize the exterior walls. It not only comes mostly furnished, it has decorative wallpapered interior walls that are magnetized to hold easy-to-fill picture frames for original artwork or photos. The 32-piece doll house kitchen counter, refrigerator, sofa, loveseat, 3 rugs, coffee table, floor lamp, toilet, bathtub, bed with comforter, pillows, 2 side table, armoir, media cabinet, magnetized wall sconces, wall clock, 2 art frames, bath vanity, toilet paper roll, mirror, shower,LCD/TV, and wall shelf. Note: Dolls are available in families or individually and sold separately. 3 & up

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

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2014 Awards
Felt Crown Set, Pirate
(Mudpuppy Press $19.99 Score:)

 Yo, Ho! Ho! Get ready mates! Cleverly designed for versatility, this premade felt crown with a Velcro closing to adjust head sizes, comes with an assortment of stick-on badges that can be added to the frame of the crown. Done in black, red, teal, gold and white, this is a fun accessory for a pirate birthday or other special occasions. Great for games of pretend. The company makes several other crowns including a less gender specific birthday crown for boys and girls and a wonderful ballet crown for dramatic play.

 

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

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2014 Award
Calico Critters Berry Grove Elementary School
(International Playthings $79.99 Score:)

Fans of Calico Critters will love this two-level school setting that comes with desks, chairs, a working clock, books and even an apple for the teacher. Our testers always love the minature world of these little animal families. In keeping with the new school theme, there is also a wonderful new School Bus that comes with a working handle that opens the door (very neat). Critters can also be accessed through the opening on the top of the bus. New families for 2014 include: Beavers, Chipmunks and Polar Bears. The "family" can also get about in the new very spiffy Cherry Cruiser. One note: The school and bus do not come with any Calico Critters even though the box shows them so occupied.

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

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2013 Award
My Girl's Dollhouse
(Good Toy $399 Score:)

A wow-wee (pricey) over-the-top 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide dollhouse that's big enough to use with American Girl and other 18" dolls. Our testers couldn't get over how enormous this pretend setting is when fully constructed.  Our parent testers thought this 100% pine wood frame went together well. The front of the house has a design --but here's the deal.  SAFETY NOTE: You have to use the SAFETY STRAP included to prevent this oversized structure from tipping over. So the design on the front isn't something you're going to see once you've put it together and secured to the wall. Of course this means that this is also a dollhouse for playrooms with lots of space. The product is marked for kids 8 & up, but we know it will be purchased for kids much younger - and even tall 8 year olds will need a stool to reach the top. So the safety strap is essential.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Award
Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole
(Innovation First $49.99 Score:)

Hexbugs are fun all on their own, but we really love this new system with see-thru tubes. The little robotic vibrating bugs now make their way up and down the chutes and then free fall into the black hole - only to re-emerge on the base of the set and begin the trek again. We combined the Black Hole set (with 58 pieces and two nanos) with the Infinity Loop and the Watch Tower. Putting these sets together will require some parental assistance. What we really love about this set is that involves some building and then the play begins. Everyone who plays with this toy starts talking about what may happen next and where the bugs may go. You can change the set around so it's not static - there are also gates that can be moved to change the direction of the bugs. Occasionally the bugs did get jammed in one of the chutes - usually a little shake will move them. Sometimes we had to open the chute to unclog - but that's part of the fun.

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

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2013 Award
International Playthings Calico Critters Supermarket
(International Playthings $60 Score:)

Our brother/ sister tester team really loved all the details in this super elaborate supermarket. They spent hours putting the merchandise on display and then hours more playing pretend games. It comes with over 100 pieces including fruits, vegetables, bread, fish, canned food, drinks, cookies, ice cream, shopping cart, check-out counter with cash register, display stands, and more. However, like other sets in this collection, it does not come with critters, though they are shown on the packaging. So, be sure to add some critters for their dramatic play. Marked 3 & up, but we think older children will appreciate all the tiny pieces even more. Our testers were 6 & 8 and not too old for these settings.

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

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2013 Award
Calico Critters Lakeside Lodge
(International Playthings $60 Score:)

A small summer house of logs with an orange roof; perfect for vacation living. Instead of beds there are two hammocks and a loft with ladder. It has a raised entry and a terrace with a hot tub, plus a clever little upstairs balcony--just right for critters to use for viewing the great outdoors. In fact, this small house might be just the right scale as a dollhouse to keep at a summer cottage. Although it is shown with furniture and critters on the box, they are not included, but sold separately. The Lodge can also be combined with the new Treehouse, making a miniature setting of grand proportions.

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

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2013 Award
Calico Critters Ice Cream Truck
(International Playthings $35 Score:)

Get ready for soft ice cream and scoops of the regular kind, too. We don't see any good humor pops or fudgicals, but maybe they don't know about them at Cloverleaf Corners. Our brother/sister testers loved the working soft ice cream machine. They spent many happy hours puttiing the stickers on and playing to sell yummy treats once they got the shop all set up. Like other settings in this line the critters are not included, although they are shown on the packaging. 3 & up.

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

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2013 Award
Calico Critters Adventure Tree House
(International Playthings $70 Score:)

Get your critters ready for real adventure in this three level tree house with a two-story slide, a cabin on top, and ladders for getting up and down. There is a swing big enough for two to share as well as a bucket on a pulley for getting supplies up and down with ease. There is plenty of room inside for cozy living. You can combine this setting with the Lakeside Lodge vacation house. Like all settings in this line, the animals and furniture pictured on the packaging are not included in the set, but sold separately.

Our tester loved the little log cabin playhouse that is on the top of the tree house and the slide. She also likes the pulley for transporting small treasures to the different levels of the tree house.  The only negative comment was that the swing comes off the branch easily. This experienced 6 year old Calico Critters fan, incorporated her Tree House into her other settings to create a village.  Her mom noted that she would recommend Calico Critters to other parents because the line has lasting play appeal. 

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

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