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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 

 
2015 Awards
Monopoly 80th Anniversary Edition
(Hasbro $20.99 Score:)

Need a gift for Grandma or Grandpa for a family celebration? This version of the original game comes with retro cards and money, wooden hotels and houses, and tokens that were used when the grandparents, parents and kids from the 30's to the Millennium played with. A perfect choice for keeping some of the crowd quiet and engrossed at your next family reunion. there is a fancier version of this with golden playing pieces. Game play and playing pieces are otherwise the same. 8 & up.

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
eeBoo Squirrel 24 Watercolor Pencils & Sketch Book
(eeBoo $14.99 Score:)

Newest additions to a line of beautiful watercolor pencils and sketch book art supplies. The colored pencils in their handsome tin provide a range of hues artists, young and old, will welcome. Draw with dry pencil and then use a paintbrush and water to turn drawings into paintings. Illustrator Monika Forsberg designed the red squirrel with a posy for bird. This makes a perfect gift for creative springtime birthdays or visits. 5-50+.

SNAP: Encouraging kids to work on pencil and paper skills can be enhanced by bringing home art supplies that are more fun to practice with than ordinary paper and pencil.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Awards
Neat Oh Dinosaur Zip Bin 160
(Neat-Oh $23.99 Score:)

How to keep order to the oh so many little pieces of play? Here's a creative and playful solutio. A colorful storage vinyl box where all those dino plant eaters and meat eaters can be contained between playtimes. Unzip the corners and there's a big mat with swamps, trees and rocky ledged graphics where dramatic play can come to life. A lidded transformable box comes with two dino figures with room for lots more along with a setting for hours of imaginative play. 3 & up.  

Also nice for take along fun, Neat Oh Dinosaur Brings Along Backpack(19.99)

SNAP: Play settings and boxes for storing playthings can enhance playtime. Clean up time becomes another opportunity to sort playthings, as well. A storage box for animals, aone for vehicles another for blocks, perhaps can go a long way to staying ahead of chaos and a much better idea than one big toy box where everything gets lost in the shuffle. We like the idea of the big play setting that unzips with these Neat-oh containers.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Clifford the Big Red Dog Water Science
(Young Scientists CLub $19.99 Score:)

Newest in a wonderful collection of young science kits, this one deals with water and introduces children to some basic concepts such as floating, sinking, icebergs, and hands on experiments that allow kids to see the water cycle, phases from liquid to solid to gas. The kit itself contains almost all the materials you need to explore the activities in a 20-page manual that includes ways to make rain, submarine, foam boat, chromatography, and more. Plastic test tubes, mini-measuring cup, mini-sponge, pipette, lab tray and special tubes and papers for experiments. You will need to provide your own food coloring and for a magical experiment, some black pepper. Since these are essentially designed for preschoolers, you will be doing the reading. Basically, this kit is a parent intensive opportunity to explore and expand new ideas with your preschooler. Marked for 3 & up, we think this is probably a better bet for slightly oler preschoolers and even a good choice for 5 & up. Young readers will also like helping with the directions as well as the experiments.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
InnoTab3S Plus
(VTech $79 Score:)

If sharing your ipad sounds like risky business to you, there are a number of kid friendly tablets to consider. The InnoTab3 has a built-in camera with funny effects, a movie-maker, art studio, e-reader, and is a game machine with a library of add-on games designed to support reading, math, geography, handwriting and science. Comes with 12 apps and rechargeable Power Pack. Additional games are in the $16-17 price range. Parents tell us that kids liked the stylus and movie editor feature, but the graphics are less good than what kids expect at this point. Our testers gave a higher rating to LeapFrog's LeapPad3 in terms of graphics.

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

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LeapFrog LeapBand
(LeapFrog $39.99 Score:)

Kids usually like wearing and using tech products their parents are using and the LeapBand is a kid's version of your activity band. However, it doesn't count steps or distance or calories like the grown up kinds, but is designed to encourage activities that do keep kids moving, which is a good thing. The pet pal can be customized so kids earn points by completing 50 active challenges, such as 'pounce like a lion' or 'walk like a crab' or 'spin like a helicopter.' Our testers found this a novelty, but way too over-sized and bulky for kid-sized wrists and kids did not want to wear it for long. Available in pink, blue and gender-free green. Though they look similar, this is nothing like the VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch, which is really a watch/camera/recorder. 

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

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VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch
(VTech $69.99 Score:)

Though they look similar, this is nothing like the LeapFrog LeapBand. It is not an activity tracker, but more like a camera and recording machine. Kids can take photos and videos with fun effects. It also has a voice recorder with voice-changing effects as well as games and a touch screen. Finally, it is also a watch with analog and digital displays. Although parents liked the learning games they could down load, kids and parents found it annoyingly huge and bulky for kid-sized wrists. Testers seemed to like the voice changer recorder the best. Available in pink, blue and gender-free green. Marked 3-9, testers felt it too complex for very young and too babyish for the upper range listed. We think the sweet spot for novelty this is more like 6-7. 

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

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2014 Award
Fisher Price Imaginext DC Super Friends RC Transforming Batbot
(Fisher Price $64.99 Score:)

With over 100 sound effects and phrases this Batbot is part robot/ part tank that operates with a full function remote control. Little brothers and sisters will be impressed (and maybe a little scared) when the Bat Bot's eyes light up. It has a disk launcher, a batman figure, and both arms rotate 90 degrees. Our seven year old tester's eyes lit up when he saw this toy in the box and his delight only grew as he played with it, transforming it from bot to tank and back again and activating the many phrases and motions. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Awards
Road Rippers Piston Thumper Ford Raptor
(Toy State $19.99 Score:)

For noisy toy fans, this will do it, big time. The F-150 SVT Raptor has lights and lots of roaring beeping and thumping sounds that will delight kids until someone yells--turn that #*@#& off! That said, it's a showy gift for the price and you can always let the batteries go dead and still have a powerful looking SVT for dramatic play. Takes 3 AA batteries.

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

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2014 Awards
eeBoo Color Pencils Striped Biggies
(eeBoo $7.99 & up Score:)

Designed for small hands these oversized colored pencils come in sets of 12 or 24 along with a special sized sharpener. The delicious colors will make paper and pencil tasks more fun and may be just the right inducement for kids who are just starting to write words and letters in school. As the box says, they are shorter than most pencil sets, but jumbo in thickness, giving beginners a broader line and more control. Drawing, coloring or writing, these are terrific tools for developing eye hand and for refining those small muscles in the fingers and hand that are needed for the task. Bring home a Sketchbook with elves carrying Striped Biggies. 5 & up.

SNAP For all the reasons stated above, these are a good choice that will make pencil tasks more pleasing.

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

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