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Product Type: Toys
Award: SNAP
Review Year: 2013

 

 
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 Rockin Tunes Giraffe
(Fisher-Price $39.99 Score:)

Rockin' Tunes Giraffe responds to your toddler's movements with music, lights, and phrases. The more kids rock the more the lights in Giraffe's mane blink and the music and phrases build. Happily, you can also turn off the sounds and lights or choose a lower volume. We like the low seat, the bat-at roller in  Giraffe's mane. Best of all, the stabile rockers make this ride-on a fun choice for steady on their feet toddlers to mount with some independence. Unlike heirloom style wooden and plush ride-ons, this plastic rocker is quite affordable and will go the distance. A big gift for a little toddler. Need a big 1st or 2nd birthday gift that won't break the bank? This is it! 12-36 months.

SNAP: Aside from the stability of this rocker, it's invitation to physical gross motor play, and its affordability, we like the cause and effect lessons built into the action. The idea of making music go faster the faster you rock gives tots instant feedback that links their actions to making something happen.

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

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2013 Awards
Crayola Dual-Sided DryErase Board Set
(Crayola $10.99 Score:)

Eight vibrant colored crayons come with a built-in sharpener on the package and a reversible black or white board and cloth that erases crayon markings with ease. These special crayons are sturdier and slightly thicker than most, so they are easier to grasp. They also wash from hands and clothing, though not if they met in if they end up in a pocket in the clothes dryer. These are less smelly than markers for the erase board and no worry over lost caps, markers drying out, or the sometimes unpleasant odor of marker ink. They are also easier to handle than chalk that snaps under pressure. Kids are often more willing to work on writing and math when the writing surface allows for playfulness. It is less confining than paper and mistakes are easier to wipe away and start again. Marked for 3 & up, but we believe this is not babyish looking and will appeal to much older kids as well.

SNAP: Finding playful materials that build writing skills can be challenging. These wipe off crayons with the wipe off board are not babyish and allow for games as well as tracing. Activity: Print the child's name with one color and have child trace with another color. Once they have the hang of it print the letters with dots or dashes and have child connect to make the letters whole. For beginners you may want to start with shapes to trace rather than letters.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Crayola My First Touch-Lights Pad
(Crayola $21.99 Score:)

One of Crayola's mess-free toys. The screen changes colors and sings 6 songs as toddlers use their fingers or the stylus to make things happen. This does not replace the squishy joy of finger paints, but it does allow less clean-up time. The free form drawings are not permanent. Use the stylus sideways to clear the screen and start again. This takes 3 AA's and happyily--the sound can be turned off. Designed for tots of 24 months & up.

 SNAP:Finger paint it is not..that said, this does provide another way to get children to build finger and hand muscles without the demands of gripping a pencil, marker, or crayon.

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

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2013 Awards
Tegu Hatch Magnetic Wooden Car
(Tegu $38 Score:)

A fifteen-piece set of magnetic wooden blocks that includes four working wheels. Although there are pictures on the box, with the sleek look of a classic Lincoln Continental, this is a pretty open-ended construction toy that give kids hands-on experience with the opposite poles on magnets and allow kids to make unique vehicles that they can play with. There is another 15-piece vehicle, a red racing car, called the Dart. Marked 3 and up, we think this will be a better choice for slightly older builders. Beginners will have more success with the company's five-piece Riley Roadster or Maddy Micro.

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

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2013 Awards
Tegu Riley Roadster
(Tegu $22 Score:)

A low slung wooden race car body has magnets inside and four magnetic wheels to attach with ease. This five-piece set is easy enough for threes to put together and take apart with a sense of building their own working vehicle. There is another five-piece car in the line, the Maddy Micro with a taller body. Either of these is less challenging than the 15-piece Dart or Hatch that are a lot trickier to put together.

Age: Preschool. 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
Creativity for Kids Grow a Hedgehog
(Creativity for Kids $12 Score:)

Paint the plastic hedgehog planter, paste on the wiggly eyes and bow. Now, you are ready to grow a hedgehog! Add and fill the planter tray with the supplied potting mix. Plant the seeds and keep them moist with the spray bottle until the wheatgrass seeds sprout in 3-5 days. A little art, a little science, and a lot of learning fun. Be forewarned: the box shows the hedgehog's face blushed with yellow, but there is no yellow in the kit. It comes with white, tan and black paint. Perhaps you can use a yellow marker to add this detail. 5 & up.

SNAP: Keep a photo journal of the process with your child in the pictures. Turn them into a small book that tells about each stage. This kind of activity builds reading and pre-reading skills and puts the child in the center of the action.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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