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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2015 Award
Nancy B's Black Light Illuminator Journal
(Educational Insights $16.99 Score:)

Part book/part black light this is a fun activity combo with a working black light, an invisible marker and a book full of do-able experiments that will challenge and hold their interest. Part of the Nancy B's Science Club collection, the packaging features girls doing the experiment and a picture of a Women in Science story; a great way to spark early interest and connections to science for young girls. We also like the Nature Keeper and Tree Diary in this collection. 8 & up.

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

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2015 Award
Klutz Shrink & Link Jewelry
(Klutz $21.99 Score:)

Shrink and bake craft kits have been around for a long time, but what we liked about this one is the clarity of directions and the good looking art that kids can use. We also like the fact that this is not one of those instant crafts. It requires both patience and dexterity along with reading skills and working in an orderly way. These are all built into the fun and the pay-offs are larger and more attractive than most. Part book/part craft kit, this is one of those crafts that requires adult supervision since the oven is part of the action. It also does not come with colored pencils and markers, scissors or a paper punch; but chances are you have all of these and probably of better quality than what would be packed in an affordable kit. 10 & up.

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

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2015 Award
USA Map 100 Piece Puzzle
(Purple Cow $10 Score:)

For kids learning their way around maps, this company has a series of attractive 100-piece puzzles that come in eye-catching globe-shaped containers. We tested the USA map and putting it together is challenging since the pieces are small. But there are lots of clues such as state names that are broken in two and the frame with flat sides. Marked for 6-99, we suspect this is a better bet for slightly older school aged kids, say 8 & up. If you like this one you will also want to consider the World Map, Solar System, and Europe.

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

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2015 Award
My Family Trivia Game
(Purple Cow $12 Score:)

We like this unusual multi-generational games that will be fun for a family occasions since it calls for a lot of talking and sharing of family stories. Players must collect six different colored cards that are drawn randomly from the pile. The tasks on the cards require players to tell about themselves or things they know about other players in the game. For example one task card asks a player to name "all my cousins from oldest to youngest" or to tell "an object I could not live without" or "three places where we have relatives." There are a few picture cards, too, that are supposed to evoke family stories that relate to your family. An uncomplicated game that is sure to produce good laughs and happy memories, this is designed for 3-7 players ages 6-99.

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

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2015 Award
Educational Insights Read My List Game
(Educational Insights $14.99 Score:)

A game for listening, thinking fast and rapid recall. The game comes with 200 cards with lists and categories. With List cards players race to name three more things that fit the category. With category cards players listen to the list read and try to be the first to name the category. In the Lightening Round players take turns naming things that fall into the category. But be careful, if you guess wrong or name something that was already read on the list, you are out! 8 & up.

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

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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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My Monopoly
(Hasbro $19.95 Score:)

The new My Monopoly board game allows you to create a personalized Monopoly game, but, as our testors told us, it's not that easy to do. You can download the free My Monopoly app or visit www.mymonopoly.com to set up an account and personalize property spaces, game tokens, Community Chest and Chance cards to use in the My Monopoly board game. Choose your own photos from your computer or smart device and add captions to the photos. Then, you need to print them out on the sticker sheets, and you are ready to play. Our test families loved the concept, but found doing all these so-called simple steps a real challenge, that took too much stress, time and fun out of the fun. For all but the most savvy computer-able players, stick to Boardwalk.

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

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Skylanders Trap Team Starter Pack
(Activision $74.99 Score:)

This relative newcomer to toyland with over a BILLION dollars in sales has engaged younger kids to the world of gaming with action figures that exist both virtually and as toys. Here's the story: "Kaos has blown up the walls of Cloudcracker Prison and freed notorious villains in Skylands. You and the Skylanders must hunt them down and capture them with magical Traptanium, a powerful material that can harness the Elements. Available for all gaming systems. 6 & up. Editors' Note: While we acknowledge that this is a large and growing segment of toyland, we still wish that the games and technology were less about combat.  On the other hand playing these types of games often becomes a social issue - in which case we suggest that you sit down and experience the game play with your child. And as with all "screen" time we suggest you put a time limit on this type of play before you bring the toy home. This type of play should not replace everything else like building, being active and creative in the real world.

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

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Hot Wheels RC Street Hawk Remote Control Flying Car
(Mattel $59.99 Score:)

Is it a car? Is it a plane? Hold on to your remote control and it is both. Built for dual terrain versatility, the Street Hawk promises to do more than previous RC vehicles. On the ground it is powered by a 2.4GHz transmitter with ground steering control, dual 8mm electric motors and a LiPo 3.7V battery (that can be charged using the transmitter or via a USB cable). As a plane, it can fly up to 200+ feet and has dual propellors that spin over 35K RPMs. You can charge it via USB or transmitter. Manufacturer claims this is lightweight and durable and capable of aerial stunts. Marked for 5-15. We'd say more like in the middle of that with adult supervision with younger kids. [Editors' Note: Our testers all wanted to LOVE this toy and while one family was very successful getting it off the ground, the majority of our testers had problems with charging, having the propellers fall off and generally not getting it to fly as long as they had hoped.]

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

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