We ran into this at the Museum of Modern Art and had to wait a long while for a turn. Kids of all ages were drawn to this tot-sized keyboard with a see-through dome where music making also sets the colorful plastic stars in action. Pop, pop is right. Hit the keys and the stars pop up and jump from one cylinder to another. There are two sound modes, one musical the other funny sound effects; both pleasant enough. Older players may try to play tunes or get the colors into the matching cylinder; for babies this is more of an instant gratification toy that empowers their sense of being able to make things happen. Marked for 1 and up, we'd say this will be enjoyed even by sitting up babies who are gaining control of their hand movements.
SNAP: The sounds and sights of this little keyboard will lend motivation for using eye hand skills that are rewarding with payoffs they can see and hear. Kids can activate this with a swipe of a hand or with more regned finger movements. You may need to velcro this down to a table top so it does not move around.
Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Our tester loved the multiple ways this baby toy works. It can light up the nursery ceiling with tiny stars and rocket ships. It has soothing nature sounds, a voice sensor that will play when baby cries, and dozens of songs and nursery rhymes. There is a timer and volume control. This does require 2AA batteries. It's not really designed for baby to handle, but it has fabric head, legs and tail with a hard plastic body where all the controls are for you to set. Older kids are going to want to make things happen themselves. For starters, it's a good diversion that just might sooth your wide awake baby and lull him to sleep. Newborns & up
Age: Infants, Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
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.
SNAP: A night light, music player, story teller, this is a gift that will be enjoyed by children from infants to well beyond preschoolers. Best of all you can record storeis, and music of your own choice to the extensive library.
Age: Infants, Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Elmo and Cookie Monster faces smile on the bongo drum that can close and become a case to store the Ernie shaped maracha, a Big Bird squeeze horn, and a Grover shaker. Appealing character driven plastic rhythm instruments for toddlers. Put on some music and let the fun begin. 12 months & up
Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Two wooden shakers with a gentle quiet sound that are easy to live with for adults as well as kids. These unusual shapes for maracas are easier for young kids to grasp and hold onto while they keep the beat to music you put on for them to respond to.
SNAP: Unlike regular marachas which may be harder to grasp these wooden shakers have handles that may be easier to grasp. They also have a less strident sound. making them easier for sound sensitive kids to tolerate and even enjoy.
Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
A versatile activity table with three different musical instruments: drum, maracas and DJ. Kids can play rhythms and keep time with the music, or spin their own music. For music lovers, it may be a stretch to call this a musical toy, but it is about giving tots the powerful sense of making things happen. Sitting-up babies can play their own tunes on the floor while standing-up toddlers can play side by side. Either way, this is a fun way for kids to make things happen. The sounds are not too intrusive. Happily, there are no A-B-C's or numerals to give a false impression of being more educational. But, not to worry. Babies learn a lot about cause and effect from playing with open-ended toys that invite them to turn knobs, spin barrels, and push big buttons. They are also developing eye hand skills and manual dexterity.
SNAP: You may want to tape on a fat foam hair roller to the tiny green knob of the green DJ disk. That will add texture and be easier to grasp for children who need a larger knob. For children who are not standing, the separate pieces can be enjoyed in the lap or the three pieces can fit in the white stand and be played on the floor without the legs.
Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Talk about making things happen, this is it! Touch the flowers and set off the music and lights and sounds. There is no right or wrong way to make this work. We really like the musical selections, not because they ar classic melodies, but the quality of the sound is excellent! That alone sets this toy apart from all too many of the so-called musical toys for tots. There are several modes of play to explore: the scale, animal sounds, silly ones and pure music. The tote handle will please toddlers who like carrying their favorite toys as they move from one room to another. This does have a volume control and teaches kids about cause and effect as well as empowering them to make music. 6 months & up.
SNAP: For all the reasons above, this is a pleasing and interesting toy for learning about cause and effect and giveing children a sense of power, by making things happen. It has a lot of sensory play value.
Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Toddlers will like the action of hitting the keys and making the color balls jump. But this poppin' piano goes way beyond that simple play mode. It is an electronic toy and has a load of built-in bells and whistles. As electronic toy pianos go, this one has pretty good sound. It plays a variety of instruments --piano, organ, harpsichord, synthesizer, and something called popping sounds. But you cannot go from one instrument to another without going to another activity and returning to the "choose an instrument" mode and then striking a different note on the keyboard. In other words, there is nothing easy about the choices. There are several modes, most well beyond the 12-36 month age group on the package. Mode one is a number drill with the audio telling children to hit the numerals on the big colorful keys. Mode two tells children the color of the key they are striking and makes a ball jump up. Another skill set that does not match the age group. There is another mode that plays premade music and kids can hit whatever notes they choose while the song is playing. Kids need to be in the instrument section to have free playtime. It has loud and soft volume settings.
SNAP: This child friendly keyboard will encourage children to use fine motor skills as well as giving them the powerful satisfaction of making music with a swipe of the hand.
Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Give these wooden painted maracas a shake. Painted in bug-like colors-red and black ladybug, yellow and black bumble bee, green and black grasshopper, these are smooth to the touch and have a good sound. Fun for keeping time with music or dancing time. 2 & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.
SNAP: Here's another way to enjoy music..keeping the beat. This is an entertaining way to build listening skills and encourage movement. These smooth maracas are smooth to the touch and appealing to the eye. Use them to motivate children to use their hands for gripping. To adapt, attach Velcro to the handles and to mitts that will help kids hold onto them. These will be enjoyed by kids with the mobility to dance as well as those who can participate in a wheelchair.
Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.
Designed for little hands, these two colorful maracas have pretty good sound values for keeping the beat. Each of them has a distinctive sound. These are another element in the new Basic Rhythms line that Step 2 created for toddlers, that will also be enjoyed by preschoolers.
The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.
SNAP IDEAS: Put on some music and let the shaking begin. Whether they can dance or keep the beat while sitting on the floor, being able to make "music" is empowering to young children. These have chubby handles that may be easier to grasp than other musical rhythm instruments.
Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2009.
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