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Award: SNAP
Age: Infants
Review Year: 2013

 

 
2013 Awards
Alex Round the Farm
(Alex $43.99 Score:)

An update of a 2008 Platinum Award winner, this soft fabric ball has new faces, textures and sounds. There are four different animal faces, each with its own set of ears that protrude from the ball and have a sound effect appropriate for the related animal. (The frog ribbits, the cat meows, the cow moos, and the dog woofs.) There is also a small finger hole that baby testers thought was great fun. However, the toy was $24.99 in 2008. Hard to know why it is now almost twice the price. 6 months & up.

SNAP: A fun toy to motivate crawling and for developing language.
Talk about the eyes, mouth and ears of each animal. Play a singing game to the tune of "If you're happy and you know it...clap your hands...etc." Only this time play it by singing about tap the cow's nose, mouth, ears. Play it with each face of the toy and with your child's own mouth, eyes and ears.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Awards
Chicco 3-in-1 Music Band Table
(Chicco $49 Score:)

A versatile activity table with three different musical instruments: drum, maracas and DJ. Kids can play rhythms and keep time with the music, or spin their own music. For music lovers, it may be a stretch to call this a musical toy, but it is about giving tots the powerful sense of making things happen. Sitting-up babies can play their own tunes on the floor while standing-up toddlers can play side by side. Either way, this is a fun way for kids to make things happen. The sounds are not too intrusive. Happily, there are no A-B-C's or numerals to give a false impression of being more educational. But, not to worry. Babies learn a lot about cause and effect from playing with open-ended toys that invite them to turn knobs, spin barrels, and push big buttons. They are also developing eye hand skills and manual dexterity.

SNAP: You may want to tape on a fat foam hair roller to the tiny green knob of the green DJ disk. That will add texture and be easier to grasp for children who need a larger knob. For children who are not standing, the separate pieces can be enjoyed in the lap or the three pieces can fit in the white stand and be played on the floor without the legs.

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

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2013 Awards
Infantino Stack, Sort & Ball Drop Elephant
(Infantino $25 Score:)

Sitting up babies will love the fill and spill action of this clever elephant with a shape sorter as well as a ball drop. Put the pieces in the big opening at the top or match the shapes on the side and ab-ra-ka-dab-ra they set off music or elephant trumpet as they come rolling out. Or, show baby how to stack the rings o the elephants trunk or press the big button and set the wheel spinning. Best news is the volume control lets you turn the sound down. This well designed activity center is not random as so many electronic toys tend to be. Baby can actually begin to understand that his actions cause reactions - with repetitive lessons of cause and effect babies gain an empowering sense of making things happen.

SNAP  Unlke so many electronic toys, the connection between actions and reactions is clear. Children can actually connect their actions that cause reactions - so repetitive lessons of cause and effect empower the child's sense of making things happen. The actions also involve dexterity and refining fine motor skills.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Awards
Manhattan Toy Turn & Discover Rattle
(Manhattan Toy $10 Score:)

A new look and interesting shape for baby to explore with almost all their senses. Unusual vibrant colors and patterns to look at, bumpy edges to chomp on for teething and touching, three different clicking sounds to hear when the bug knobs are turned, and a rattle sound when the toy is shaken. Turn all the keys in one direction and then spin it to make it look like a flying saucer. Marked for 3 months and up, but this seems more like a toy for sitting up babies who are getting into two handed play.

SNAP: A good choice for developing hand muscles to twist and turn the three oversized"keys" give kids three different rewarding sounds. This will be of interest to children well beyond the age marked on the box.

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

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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 Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Fisher Price Puppy & Friends Learning Table
(Fisher-Price $44.99 Score:)

There are many activities built into this interactive bi-lingual table. Babies can use this on the floor without the legs and it will then grow up for standing up toddlers with the addition of the legs. They can turn the plastic pages of a book, use the buttons on a phone that counts, make music on a small keyboard and hear more than 60 songs and phrases. Babies who are learning to stand and walk will use this to pull up on and to cruise around. Be forewarned, it is not weighted and on some surfaces the table will slide. In fact, some tots may try using it as a push-around toy. Will they learn their numbers or letters with this? Not really. But most babies will start using this before they are really talking and there are more important things to be learned at that stage than letters and numbers. This is one of those toys that plays repeated lessons giving tots hands-on experiences with cause and effect. By using little fingers they gain a sense of power in being able to make so many things happen. Marked 6 months-36 months, we think this will be of most interest to kids a little older than 6 months and younger than 36 months. That said, this is a pretty good activity table.

SNAP: Adaptable for floor or stand up action, this is a versitile toy that invites hands and fingers to make things happen.

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

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2013 Awards
Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Crawl Around Car
(Fisher-Price $60 Score:)

You know how car salesmen tell you the car they are selling is fully loaded? That would be a good description of this red activity center that is shaped like a car. It has wheels but does not move around. It's designed for sitting up, crawling, and even toddlers who are cruising. There's a dashboard with steering wheel, lights, and buttons to activate--always a favorite of toddlers. The back wheels spin and one side door opens and closes so tots can go in and out. There is a shape sorter on one side and a ball run on the other, a windshield wiper that talks about the weather. All the pieces are sized up for young players. This toy takes some time to put together with screws and stickers. It says 6 months to 36 but we think this will be used most by babies who are crawling, cruising and beginning walkers. Lots of ways for them to make things happen and for early games of pretending.

SNAP: There's still plenty to do even though the wheels of this sporty red car do not move the vehicle about.  A good choice for a child who is ready for pretend without the need for pedals or foot power. Think of it as a pretend setting with so many ways of making things happen.

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

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2013 Awards
Manhattan Toy Puppies-Go-Round
(Manhattan Toy $10 Score:)

Perfect for the high chair table, this spinning toy has a big suction cup that attaches to any table top. Colorful puppies spin with a swipe of the hand. One of those pleasing toys that lets baby make things happen. 6 months & up

SNAP: Encouraging children to reach out and make things happen is fun with this easy to activate toy. Just a swipe of the hand gets the puppies in motion. The suction cup is broad and holds pretty well on most surfaces.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2013.

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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 Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Earlyears Hooty Toot Owl
(International Playthings $12 Score:)

Hang this in the stroller, car carrier or pull it out of your bag of tricks. The fabric owl has multiple textures, patterns, and s little mirror for baby sightings. The legs have textured teethers for chomping on, too. With stitched features and crinkle in the wings, this is a multi-sensory toy for early play.

  

 

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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