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Product Type: Toys
Age: Preschoolers

 

 
2014 Awards
Plan Toys Musical Set
(Plan Toys $50 Score:)

Beautifully crafted on a curve of smooth wood, this set includes xylophone, cymbal and guiro. It also comes with color-coded music for older preschoolers who may be able to follow the sequence from left to right. The sound is muted, which may be welcome in a small apartment and a welcome change from the often over the top sound of electronic musical toys. We know some parents and kids want their toys to be louder than this while others are happy to find something muted. This ia pricey toy, so try before you buy to be sure it suits you. 3 & up.

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

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2014 Awards
Spot It! Disney Planes Alphabet Game
(Blue Orange Games $14 Score:)

Take your choice of licenses: Planes, Sofia the First, or Frozen, whatever appeals to your preschooler, this is a fun way to learn their letters by finding matching letters or images on a pair of cards. Kids identify the letter pairs by name and shape so this is a playful way to reinforce letter recognition. There are three ways to play with the 55 cards that fit neatly back in their round tin for take along ease. There is also a preschool game for matching numbers and shapes. Marked 3 & up, we think it is probably a better bet for 4-5's.

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

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2014 Award
Tickety Toc Chime Time
(Wonder Forge $30 Score:)

Fans of Tickety Toc will like trying to make it around the game board all the way to Chime Time, collecting rewards along the way. Of course, they will have to find missing tools on the playing board, pretend to be a fish or even dance like a robot. With each turn they get to turn the cog wheels on the unusual playing board and doing that moves the clock that much closer to Chime Time! Winner is the one with the most tiles. No game is exactly the same. 2-4 players ages 3 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Plan Toys Croquet
(Plan Toys $39.99 Score:)

For indoors play here's a croquet game with 4 wickets, a final stand, two mallets and four animal wooden balls. They all come in a fabric bag for neat storage. Unlike wickets for outdoor play that are usually poked into the ground, these are cleverly designed with rope and wooden weights that you arrange to curve. You can adjust them high or wide and a little more challenging. Plan Toys also makes a wooden Golf Set for preschoolers. 4 & up.

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

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2014 Awards
Plan Toys Braille Alphabet
(Plan Toys $29.99 Score:)


Two-sided wooden alphabet pieces have upper case on one side and lower case on the reverse. Made of wood, they are smooth and have a corner bent for ease of lifting and turning. They also have Braille symbols on each side. Use these for playing knowing and naming letter or sound games. Sort them by finding all the straight edged letters and then find all the ones with rounded lines. Plan Toys uses sustainable rubber wood that is coated with a non-toxic finish and colors from vegetable dye. Marked for 2 & up. We'd say more like a 3-5 year old choice.

SNAP: Useful for all sorts of knowing and naming letter names and sound games. Introduce just a few pieces at a time and play with those names and sounds.

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

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2014 Awards
Hape Dream House
(HaPe $199.99 Score:)

Our tester loves the see-through elevator that runs up and down the outside of this three-story house with chalk siding so kids can customize the exterior walls. It not only comes mostly furnished, it has decorative wallpapered interior walls that are magnetized to hold easy-to-fill picture frames for original artwork or photos. The 32-piece doll house kitchen counter, refrigerator, sofa, loveseat, 3 rugs, coffee table, floor lamp, toilet, bathtub, bed with comforter, pillows, 2 side table, armoir, media cabinet, magnetized wall sconces, wall clock, 2 art frames, bath vanity, toilet paper roll, mirror, shower,LCD/TV, and wall shelf. Note: Dolls are available in families or individually and sold separately. 3 & up

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

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2014 Award
Disney Planes Matching Game
(Wonder Forge $10..99 Score:)

For kids who are fans of Planes will like playing the classic matching game of concentration. Put the cards face down and take turns turning over two to find a pair of matching planes. True, it may be an old game, but an important one for building memory skills. These cards with distinctive bright backgrounds make the task somewhat easier. 3 & up

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

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2014 Award
Vtech Lil' Speller Phonics Station
(Vtech $25 Score:)

Learning letter names and the sounds they say is an interactive game with the letters in the carry case that fit into the board and speak. That is just one level of play. Kids can spell hundreds of three letter words and hear them said or they can hear a word and find the letters to spell that word. This is a game for the beginning reader. We like that they have used lower case letters since that is what beginning readers need to learn to recognize and read. Often kids only know upper case letters and have to relearn the names of letters in the lower case form. The toy is marked for 3-6 and we would say that most 3s are not ready for most of the skills on this toy. That said, it can be a fun toy for preschoolers who are getting interested in letters and words—not being pushed into reading. This is very much like the first Leap Frog toy introduced several decades ago. It was a good idea then and still a good idea for a new crop of pre-literate children who are ready and eager to become literate.

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

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2014 Awards
Hasbro Lite Brite LED Flat Screen
(Hasbro $20 Score:)

This is not your old Lite Brite, it really is improved in multiple ways, with the play value still totally there. First improvement: the templates are no longer easy-to-rip but are sturdy and reusable--a real plus. The flat screen box is sleek and the storage box for the pegs can be attached or not. There are so many pegs kids may have trouble closing the storage box. Take the new big shapes out and the case will close. There are now more shapes than ever, adding new visual interest, as well. This is one of those toys that may seem mindless, but it does give fine motor muscles a tuning up—the same finger muscles they need to use for writing and such, only this is more fun. They also have to follow the pattern, calling for visual discrimination and sequencing, more reading and writing skills. Does this translate into school skills? No guarantees, but it might indeed help. The new board has 4 different modes to light up the creations and a 5th one to turn off the lights. 3 AA batteries required and not included. Keep this toy out of the reach of younger sibs who still mouth their toys. Marked for 4 and up, but school aged kids 5-8 will have more success, less frustration, and greater benefit. Available in blue or hot pink. 4 & up.

SNAP: A good choice for building fine motor skills without drillling with pencil and paper tasks. Also useful for developing visual discrimination and sequencing.

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

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2014 Awards
Hape All-In-1 Easel
(Hape $ Score:)

 
A versatile adjustable wooden easel with chalkboard on one side, a white magnetic board on the other side, a roller that holds paper for painting on top. There is a flat tray that will hold eraser and chalk as well as three paint pots. If you have room for it, this is an art center that will be used all through the early years from 3-7

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

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