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Award: SNAP
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Review Year: 2013

 

 
2013 Awards
jacob's eye patch
(Beth Kobliner Shaw & Jacob Shaw/ illus. by Jules F, Simon & Schuster $17 Score:)

Jacob is impatient to get to the store. Today is the big day. He's getting the light up globe he's been longing for, only at every turn there seem to be people delaying Jacob and his mom. Mostly the delays are about the patch he wears on his good eye to make his weak eye stronger. Jacob has no time for this today. With humor and not a whole lot of medical info, this lively book says a lot to kids with similar conditions and to kids who are curious about them. The afterward written by nine-year old Jacob and his mom add another dimension. Illustrated by Jules Feiffer, this is a book for kids on both sides of a patch.

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

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2013 Awards
Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses
(by Kimberly and James Dean, HarperCollins $17.99 Score:)

Pete puts on a pair of magic sun-glasses that turn his gloom into sunshine. If only cheering up could be that simple, right? Without apology, this is one of those contrived message books that are as simplistic as most TV sitcoms, but that said, it has a repetitive story line that makes it a good choice for beginning readers. As an added value kids can go to the harpercollins.com website and see animated video versions of this and other Pete the Cat stories online. 4-8

Check out the HarperCollins online free audio/video, a good way to encourage kids to follow along and develop a variety of reading skills and pace.

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

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2013 Awards
Sparkup, The Magical Book Reader
(Sparkup $59.99 Score:)

Connect this new piece of technology that uses a tiny camera as its "eye", and a tiny computer chip as its "brain" to record the pages of any book you read into it. The little wonder of a machine can memorize lots of books or you can store your recordings on the computer. The magical part begins when your child turn the pages of a real book, looks at the pictures, and listens to the story in any langugae, at her own pace. The electronic book reader knows what page to read. You can send the recording via computer to a grandchild who can download to her own Sparkup reader—of course, for long distance sharing you need two Spark-ups. There are a few books that are prerecorded and come on your reading machine. The company promises more books to come. But the magic of this is that you can record old favorites, even hardcover books that you grew up with or today's newest paperback picture books. You do not need to go buy an all new library. Nor are you stuck with typical non-books made to work only with a manufacturer's newest gismo. This is a clever device for beginning readers to use as they listen and follow along to the words on the page. You can also record your child reading and send it to Grandparents across the miles. Or personalize your reading and leave it for kids to listen to when you are out for the evening or out-of-town on business. A lot of Military families are going to like this as another way of connecting.


SNAP: A sure fire way to enhance the beginning reader experience. As listeners kids develop eye sweep as they follow along with the recording. They learn about the mechanics of a book from front to back, from left to right. THese are skills that all kids need to try on before independent reading develops.

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

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2013 Awards
The Folk Tale Classic Treasury
(retold and illustrated by Paul Galdone, Houghton Mifflin $18.99 Score:)

Six classic retold and illustrated by the masterful Paul Galdone are a family treasure you'll return to with pleasure. Chances are you grew up with Galdone's versions of The Little Red Hen, The Gingerbread Boy, and the four famous trios - the Three Pig, Three Bears, Three Kittens and Three Billy Goats Gruff. And here's a  new twist. The audio is not in the book, but you can download an audio book of the stories on the publisher's website by using the code in the book. 4-8

For childern who are beginning readers, following along while the story is read aloud helps develop listening skills as well eye sweep as they scan the page and follow the reader.

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

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2013 Awards
YBIKE Explorer Go-Kart
(YBIKE $179.00 Score:)

Our test family raved about this low-to the-ground go-kart.  Unlike your plastic Big Wheel, this is made of metal and has tires with rubber treads. It does not go super fast and it can be adjusted to grow with your rider.  We suggest adding a flag since it is so low to the ground.

SNAP: For all the reasons stated above, this is a vehicle that is a good choice for some kids with special needs. For kids who cannot balance on a standard trike or bike, this is a safer alternative. It does not tip.

It is also heavy enough so that it will not take off with just a nudge. This is a kid powered vehicle.

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

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2013 Awards
North American Bear Girls on the Move Ballerina
(North American Bear Co. $12 Score:)

Girls will love putting this little 7-inch velour ballerina through her paces. Designed with pockets for two fingers, this puppet in sheer tutu, can twist and twirl and dance on her toes. Her hair and clothes are not removable, but her movements are only limited by the imagination. Available as blond or brunette.

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

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2013 Awards
North American Bear, Dolly Pockets Red Riding Hood
(North American Bear Co. $24.99 Score:)

A 14-inch rag doll that comes with three finger puppets (Granny, the big bad wolf and the woodsman) Little Red is ready to act out her story or play an all new one. Her red cape and polka-dotted dress are on to stay and her fabric hairs is permanently in place, too. A good choice for preschoolers to engourage retelling familiar stories. Also see Dolly Pockets Cinderella and Goldilocks and the three Bears. 3 & up.

SNAP: Telling stories without a book in hand, can bring a story to life and encourage children to participate in the telling. This kind of doll with finger puppets is a great prop for doing that kind of story telling and maybe even getting little listeners to turn into little story tellers. Before a repetative line...pause and say and 'what did the big bad wolf say then?'

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

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2013 Awards
North American Bear Girls on the Move Gymnast
(North American Bear Co. $12 Score:)

Girls will love putting this little 7-inch velour doll through her paces. Designed with pockets for two fingers, this puppet can twist and twirl and do a split. Her hair and clothes are not removable, but her movements are only limited by the imagination. Available in tan or pinkish skin tone.

SNAP: Getting their fingers to do the walking for this little puppet, may be good fun as well as a way to strengthen fingers and hands. This may be a good prop for physical therapists.

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

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2013 Awards
Crayola Super Tips Washable Markers
(Crayola $12.99 Score:)

A super duper super tips marker set! 25 markers come in a see-through carrying case plus 40 pieces of paper for experimenting on. Their versatile tips draw thin and thick lines depending on how you hold them. 4 & up.

SNAP: Colorful materials that encourage kids to use their fine motor skills. These are not very wide, so you may want to add pencil grippers to give kids a firmer place to hold on. They may like the "magic" of the thin and broad lines they get from changing the position of the marker. These and some of the magic markers that change colors can go a log way in making practicing more like fun.

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 Awards
Crayola Dual-Sided DryErase Board Set
(Crayola $10.99 Score:)

Eight vibrant colored crayons come with a built-in sharpener on the package and a reversible black or white board and cloth that erases crayon markings with ease. These special crayons are sturdier and slightly thicker than most, so they are easier to grasp. They also wash from hands and clothing, though not if they met in if they end up in a pocket in the clothes dryer. These are less smelly than markers for the erase board and no worry over lost caps, markers drying out, or the sometimes unpleasant odor of marker ink. They are also easier to handle than chalk that snaps under pressure. Kids are often more willing to work on writing and math when the writing surface allows for playfulness. It is less confining than paper and mistakes are easier to wipe away and start again. Marked for 3 & up, but we believe this is not babyish looking and will appeal to much older kids as well.

SNAP: Finding playful materials that build writing skills can be challenging. These wipe off crayons with the wipe off board are not babyish and allow for games as well as tracing. Activity: Print the child's name with one color and have child trace with another color. Once they have the hang of it print the letters with dots or dashes and have child connect to make the letters whole. For beginners you may want to start with shapes to trace rather than letters.

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

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