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Product Type: Toys
Award: SNAP
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Review Year: 2013

 

 
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
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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2013 Awards
Creativity for Kids Grow a Hedgehog
(Creativity for Kids $12 Score:)

Paint the plastic hedgehog planter, paste on the wiggly eyes and bow. Now, you are ready to grow a hedgehog! Add and fill the planter tray with the supplied potting mix. Plant the seeds and keep them moist with the spray bottle until the wheatgrass seeds sprout in 3-5 days. A little art, a little science, and a lot of learning fun. Be forewarned: the box shows the hedgehog's face blushed with yellow, but there is no yellow in the kit. It comes with white, tan and black paint. Perhaps you can use a yellow marker to add this detail. 5 & up.

SNAP: Keep a photo journal of the process with your child in the pictures. Turn them into a small book that tells about each stage. This kind of activity builds reading and pre-reading skills and puts the child in the center of the action.

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

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2013 Awards
LeapFrog Leap Pad Ultra
(LeapFrog $149.99 Score:)

How do you make a good thing better? We loved the original Leap Pad and now the Ultra takes it to a new level. It has a Hi-Res 7-inch light-touch screen, a built in 9- hour rechargeable battery, and is loaded with 11 Apps. It has a front and back camera and has 8 GB of Memory that can hold 40,000 photos or more than 100 Game apps. The Leap Pad Ultra has kid-safe Wi-Fi that will not take kids to the web locations they should not reach, but it gives them access to the Leap Frog library of more than 800 games, ebooks, videos and music that is child friendly and age appropriate. You can download learning games that are suited to you child's skill level. You'll find games to reinforce math, reading, art, science and social studies. This Leap Pad Ultra does it all and should it be accidentally dropped - not to worry. It can do that too and keep on playing. 4-9

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
Leap Frog LeapReader
(Leapfrog $49.99 Score:)

This updated product makes new uses of the earlier Tag technology to support kids' reading, but goes a step further with real writing, and listening skills. Like the original Tag reader, it can help them sound out letters, words, or read sentences. But now it can also be used like a pencil for learning to shape letters and numbers on special paper. The basic LeapReader comes with a Read, Write, and Listen Activity book and also comes with three apps and a USB rechargeable battery and holds audio for up to 40 books or 175 songs. There are more than 150 books, workbooks and special paper available separately. 4-8

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

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