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Product Type: Toys
Age: Preschoolers

 


2014 Award
Baby Animals Block Puzzle
(Mudpuppy Press $14.99 Score:)

Using Clare Beaton's illustrations from Who Are You, Baby Kangaroo? Each of the six illustrations features an adult animal with babies. Turning the faces of the nine blocks, players must find the right side of each block to assemble the six separate images. A classic puzzle form with new images that challenge visual perception and patience.

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

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2014 Awards
Little People City Skyway
(Fisher-Price $39.99 Score:)

It is a race to the surprise finish to discover where the winner is going to exit from this mighty three-foot skyway. Will it come out of the side exits or jump off a ramp. It is different every time. Besides, kids can flip the switches and to change the cars path. No batteries are needed to make the two little vehicles zip and zoom down the ramps. The set up also includes a working crane, gas pump, traffic signals, parking meter, and a gate that opens and closes. All great ingredients for early dramatic play. This is a really big piece of plastic that will be a wow-eee gift for toddlers who love playing the same game again and again. It may be a stretch for small toddlers to reach the top, but most twos will enjoy taking charge of the action. It is definitely big enough for two kids to enjoy together...think twins. Marked 18 months to 5 years. We think twos and threes are the right age for this.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Jumbo Forest Friends Puzzle
(Mudpuppy Press $14.95 Score:)

It's autumn in the forest and the animals are all out under the colorful trees. This jumbo floor puzzle has 25 big pieces that beginners can handle. When put together it is a big 22 by 22 inch square. Also fun, their Jumbo Pirate Puzzle, though this one is older in look and subject. They say 2 & up; we think twos are not ready for this many pieces. It will be enjoyed by  older 3-4's more.

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

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2014 Award
Best Bugs Magnetic Maze
(HaPe $24.99 Score:)

An old fashioned game for solo play. Older toddlers like being able to manipulate tiny beads that are safely under a see-through cover. There is no right or wrong way to play with this square board. Older players may like to try and get all the beads of the same color into the home of that matching bug's maze. Doing so will take patience and some skill. 2 & up.

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

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2014 Awards
Felt Crown Set, Pirate
(Mudpuppy Press $19.99 Score:)

 Yo, Ho! Ho! Get ready mates! Cleverly designed for versatility, this premade felt crown with a Velcro closing to adjust head sizes, comes with an assortment of stick-on badges that can be added to the frame of the crown. Done in black, red, teal, gold and white, this is a fun accessory for a pirate birthday or other special occasions. Great for games of pretend. The company makes several other crowns including a less gender specific birthday crown for boys and girls and a wonderful ballet crown for dramatic play.

 

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

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2014 Awards
Let's Imagine Elmo
(Playskool $35 Score:)

A new interactive Elmo changes from Prince to Cowboy to Pirate, with a change of hats. Kids can count to 20 with him and he'll sing a reward song; they can play a version of Simon Says--only here the game is Prince Elmo Says; they can squeeze Elmo's tummy and he'll play a Sounds of the Sea Game. As always, Elmo is a novelty toy that may be a wow-ee kind of toy out of the box, but will probably hold interest for a limited time. Since he is electronic, this is not a cuddly Elmo. That said, it is likely to be highly desired and heavily promoted on TV. 2-4.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Awards
The Big Creativity Can
(Creativity for Kids $19.99 Score:)

We love this open-ended cardboard box with and amazing assortment of art materials that will invite all kinds of imaginative explorations! There are feathers, pompoms, bells, chenille sticks, pop sticks, holographic stickers, packs of clay, wiggly eyes, felt, mesh tubing, corrugated paper, sticky foams squares, patterned papers, scissors, foam shapes, satin cord--and NO INSTRUCTIONS! That is right. They are left out on purpose. It's all in the hands and eyes of the creative thinker. A great family gift that many children can share with more than 100 pieces. 4 & up.

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

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2014 Award
LEGO DUPLO School Bus
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:)

With just 26-pieces kids can build and rebuild this chunky school bus and play pretend games with it. The set comes with a driver and two students and a lot of ways to build settings. Best of all, kids can load and unload passengers and driver and make up their own stories as they play with the vehicle they build. 2-5

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

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2014 Award
Thomas & Friends Track Master, Avalanche Escape Set
(Fisher-Price $65 Score:)

Getting this 6-foot long roadway built is going to be an adult project that kids can help you do. Once the set-up is made, Thomas is in for quite a ride over the mountaintop track. As he climbs the steep incline he literally has to fly across the huge gap in the tracks. As he zooms down the mountain he goes over a rickety ridge that has collapsing guardrails and then into a cave. This set comes with track adaptors so that more track can be added to make this a part of a larger set-up. As a stand alone, it is a pretty closed system that does the same trick again and again. Yes, it is novel and a wow-ee kind of show the first few times. We think it may lose some appeal after the tricks become old hat. We strongly suggest additional tracks to make this a more viable play experience. 3-6

 

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

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2014 Award
LEGO Juniors Pony Farm
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

A hot pink trunk comes filled with pre-packed bags that contain all the pieces that go along with the easy to follow pictorial directions. All of this provides the support young builders need for getting started with important construction play. Designed to attract young girls and develop their comfort level with spatial thinking skills that formerly were considered a boys-only area. This 308-piece set can be used in open-ended ways or to follow the directions to build a Pony Farm that can be used for dramatic play. We know there are some who find the pink containers and their themes too gender specific, but in fact, if that brings girls to the construction toy aisle we say go for it! That's the way to help them develop dexterity, patience, STEM skills and imagination.4-7

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

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