Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Toddlers
Categories: Manipulatives


2014 Awards
Earlyears Flip n Spin Triangle
(International Playthings $19.95 Score:)

Sitting up babies are going to be busy with the eight active actions of this colorful plastic toy. Talk about making things happen, a monkey on a barrel shape spins from one side to another, beads that roll and bounce inside a see-thru-tube, butterflies twirl, a spiral spins on a slide, bugs spin on a wavy track, beads clack, beads roll on a corkscrew rod, and a peek-a-boo mirror will reflect baby’s amazement. Turn it over and do it all again! Develops fine motor skills, sensory learning and early lessons in cause and effect. 9 months & up.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on

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2014 Awards
ELC Twist and Turn Activity House
(International Playthings $40 Score:)

A combo small ball run, hammer toy, gear turner, and shape sorter all in one. Bigger than traditional open-the-door activity centers, this one has two giant color coded keys that unlock two doors on either side of the house. Learning how they work will take some trial and error and adult modeling. A good first birthday gift for developing problem solving and dexterity and lots of repetitive fun that toddlers enjoy. 12-24 months.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on

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2013 Awards
Lamaze Franky the Hanky Whale
(Tomy $25 Score:)

A soft textured fabric whale comes with bright colored hankies that can disappear into the whale's ribbon trimmed spout and peek-a-boo--they reappear when pulled out of its wide mouth. It has a bold black and white pattern on its underside and crinkle sounds in its fins. A cute way to play around with object permanence and develop fine motor skills in little hands. 9 months & up

SNAP: Use this toy for reinforcing color concepts as you pull the hankies out. Look for other things in the room that are the color of the hankie you put in the spout. Once children have the hang of this add other peek-a-boo surprises to this clever toy that has no finger catches or hard edges. This plays on an old favorite game of filling and dumping. Putting things into a container and taking them develops manual skills as well as proving repetition and a sense of empowerment. Changing the objects to be filled and dumped--or in this case pushed and pulled, adds variety to a useful play mode.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on

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2013 Awards
Manhattan Toy Push & Spin Carousel
(Manhattan Toy $15 Score:)

A classic spinner that baby can activate with push on the big top knob. Inside the see-through dome there are puppies and beads that spin faster and faster. A fun way to learn about cause and effect and gain a powerful sense of making things happen. 12 months & up

SNAP: A satisfying toy for learning about cause and effect that needs little or no adaption. The big knob on top is easy to grasp and the base is broad enough to be stabile. If needed, you can add velcro to surface and bottom of the toy to make it stay in one place. Children like the repetition and sounds as well as the action. Good for building hand and arm strength.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on

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2013 Awards
ELC Singing Animal Keyboard
(International Playthings $34.99 Score:)

We like the new look to a classic first keyboard that helps tots learn about cause and effect. The big keys work one at a time to activate the animals that open their mouths and make sounds. The sound is not over-the-top loud. It has three play modes: animal sounds, animals singing, and animals singing along to a tune. The music is just so-so, but the action will please tots who love the sense power and repetition of making things happen. A good first birthday gift. 12 months & up.

SNAP: Unlike a lot of toys where so many things happen, this works in a very one to one cause and effect way.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on

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2013 Awards
Quercetti Daisy Box Castle
(International Playthings $37 Score:)

For starters tots will love the classic action of filling and dumping all the pieces that come in the Daisy Box Castle. The rounded edges of the container and the blocks make them kid-friendly and easy for little hands to grasp. Once they get the idea, they can make the colorful rounded blocks fit into one another in towers or side-by-side on the white peg-board lid of the red container. The various shapes are designed to be used in an open-ended fashion with no right or wrong ways. A lovely toy for building eye-hand coordination, manual dexterity, the language of color concepts and imaginative play.

SNAP: Give kids plenty of time to explore the various pieces of this building set. After plenty of time for free play, use the pieces to sort by color or size. Use them for reinforcing simple counting and even to make patterns. This does not have a babyish look yet the size of the playing pieces will make it easier for many children to manipulate.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on

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2012 Awards
Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza
(Fisher-Price $60 Score:)

Finding toys that are just right for sitting up babies and toddlers can be difficult. The Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza fills the bill.  You'll need space for this large "making something happen" toy that both older babies and toddlers will enjoy exploring.  There are two different ways for the big balls to go from the top of the structure to the base. Of course at first, you'll be making it happen--but soon enough your toddler will enjoy making the balls drop again and again.  The small green "gate" will be another aspect of the toy your child will enjoy pushing back and forth.  There is also an arch for babies to go under.  There is music that happily you can turn off and still enjoy the toy. A definite plus in our book. The tripod design of the base makes the toy steady but of course a cruising baby will still need a watchful hand. Our older toddler twin testers loved how the ball could be placed at the top so that it bounces off a platform onto the ramp: "high marks for innovative design." Comes with 8 oversized balls so if two end up under the sofa, you're not out of business. 

SNAP: This is big enough to satisfy slightly older kids who may not have the dexterity for more complex ball runs and tracks. Though our testers found this pretty steady, you may want to stabilize it with some tape to the floor. This is not just a good social toy that two or more can use, it is a great hands on setting for dexterity, tracking, color concepts and language.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on

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2012 Awards
Eric Carle 10 Stackable Learning Blocks
(Kids Preferred $20 Score:)

A surprisingly muted set of cardboard blocks designed with Eric Carle's images. There are images to name and know, colors to know, objects to count and numerals and letters. Basically, they will be fun for toddlers to stack in size order with help and even more fun to knock over. As for nesting them, that will come even later. Marked 6 months and up, but we’d say this is a better choice for 18 months and up.

SNAP: A sturdy set of cardboard blocks make basic gear for languge games of knowing and naming as well as friendly way to work on size order. Start with two blocks instead of the whole set and gradually add more pieces.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Awards
Hape Ring-Around-A-Rosy
(HaPe $45 Score:)

A classic toy for developing dexterity as well as imagination. Toddlers love sliding the colorful beads over the maze of wires. Safely tethered, the colored beads and rings are fun to move up, up, up and see them slip and slide down. This is a good manipulative plaything. Children often turn the beads into cars, people, animals or whatever they choose to imagine as they move them up and over. It's also a great plaything that opens the way to color names, sizes (the beads are of differing sizes) and even simple counting. There are ten beads on each of the maze wires. 24 months & up.

SNAP: Use this for developing fine motor skills as well as counting and color concepts.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on

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2012 Award
Hape Countdown Wire Maze
(HaPe $39.99 Score:)

A classic bead maze that will get a lot of action. This is a smaller version than the Ring-around-a-Posy version with five wires. This one has just three wires that twist and turn and fewer beads. That said, it is probably a better choice for younger toddlers. There are big, medium and smaller beads for little hands to spin and turn over the colorful wires. Safely tethered, they give kids the chance to handle small beads that would otherwise be off limits. A classic plaything that develops fine motor skills, imagination, color concepts and even counting. 24 months & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on

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