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Product Type: Toys

 


2004 Award
Paint-A-Dino
(Pamela Drake $12 Score:) Our testers loved that they could paint this articulated dino and then have a great prop for pretend play and to mix in with their blocks. There are also fish, lizards, crocs, and snakes in this line. (800) 966-3762.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Musini Preschool
(Small world toys $39.99 Score:) When your kids move, they activate the lights and music on the Musini console. A fun stomping-around lesson in cause and effect. This new smaller version has a clever listening game where kids have to respond when they hear particular instruments. Also new but not ready for testing, Musini Magic Wand. (800) 220-3669.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Car Valet
(Alex $25 Score:) A handy zipped small case that you hang off the back of your front seat. Has a hard surface for coloring, two net pockets for supplies and two smaller zipped containers that can be taken out so you can take the crayons into the restaurant! (800) 666-2539.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2004.

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Lil' Snoopy
(Fisher-Price $8.99 Score:) Too bad they added so much sound to good old Snoopy. This little black and white pup now barks and sort of sings the melody of B-I-N-G-O with incessant barking as his “leash” is pulled. This is an example of how less was more. Too bad, Snoopy! 1 & up. (800) 432-5437. We suggest instead Ambi’s Max Pull Along Dog (Brio $17.50 ), an adorable yellow, black, and red pooch. 11/2 & up. (888) 274-6869.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: .

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2004 Award
I Spy Bingo
(Briarpatch $15.99 Score:) Fans of the I Spy series will enjoy revisiting the graphics that are used in this straightfoward Bingo game. Players get Bingo by finding either the letter or one of the objects pn the draw card. There are two sides of the Bingo boards(one is in alphabetical order, making it easier ro find matches). They say 4 & up,we'd say more like 5. (800)232-7427.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Awards
Crayon Sticks
(Elmer's $2.99 Score:) These oversized crayons are softer than most and will be easier to grasp. These are fine for encouraging big sweeping arm motion and tracing or free-form drawing. (888) 435-6377. SNAP AWARD: ACTIVITY: Use these on big shhets of paper on the floor, a table or easel. For developing eye hand these give juicy results- something like thick colored markers, but greasy. They may smudge some so, a shirt to cover up clothes may save some trouble.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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Opposites Puzzle
(Mudpuppy Press $ Score:) An innovative 9-piece cardboard puzzle that is 2 sided. Put together a city scene on one side and a country scene on the other. The pieces are big and chunky and the boarder design on each pice cues which scene you are working on. There's a city scene with a taxi on one-side and farm animals on the other. Too bad they labeled this for 2 & up. This would have been an award winner for preschoolers, but not 2 year olds! A fine choice for experienced puzzle players of 3 and 4. Ditto the new Dinosaur puzzle with a play scene and dinosaurs that can be put together and used as actioon figures for dramatic play. Ahain the age label is off...says 4 & up...we don't think 4's can do this and the information on the flip side of the puzzle is worthy of 5's and 6's...not a preschool choice.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: .

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LittleTouch Leap Pad
(LeapFrog $34.99 Score:) As electronic readers go this one is a breakthrough product that actually uses real picture books on their talking platform-granted so far there are just a few titles but the manufacturer promises more. “Guess How Much I Love You” ($14.99) one of our award winners has been adapted to the talking machine with add-on activities that will entertain and delight young listeners. Many of the other titles are “knowing & naming” books, All this would be fun for toddlers and parent to explore together. However, our testers noted, as we did that you need a BIG touch to activate the story. One needs to use a fair amount of pressure, so this may require more parental involvement. We think that’s a plus when you are dealing with toddlers- but probably needs some fine tuning by the manufacturer. Others have also complained about the on off switch being too easy for tots to find and use! We think all these problems will be reworked soon. Will this replace a book for tots to taste, toss, and explore without sounds? Not at all. Nor will it replace a warm lap and a book in hand. But as a first electronic reader- it’s a brave new world choice. They say 6 months & up--we’d say more like 18 months.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: .

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Learn Through Music System
(Fisher-Price $29.97 Score:) We had great hopes for this interactive toy that features learning familiar concepts with well known characters (Blue, Barney, Dora, Elmo), a moving screen and touch screen technology. Sounds like everything you'd want in an electronic toy for older tots and preschoolers - not 18 mos., though. But it's not just the age label that is off. While our testers liked pushing the buttons, we found the content confusing.  On the Blue's Clue color concept game, the "blue" page had way too much purple on it.  The "red" page has more orange than red to add to the confusion. The lights that go off whenever a new color is announced are always "yellowish/orange".  If your child already knows his concepts, this might be a fun interactive toy but it will be likely to confuse kids still working on gaining an understanding of these concepts. Using paints would work a lot better and especially in the mixing color department-hands on experience with food coloring or paint will make the whole concept a lot clearer than words can do!

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2004.

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2003 Award
Timely Reader Booklights
(Capstone Industries $14.95 Score:) Better than the old flashlight under the covers trick for avid readers! The light plastic booklight attaches easily to your book and even comes with a timer. A great choice for inspiring reluctant readers and true readers will appreciate the added light! You can set the timer for up to 90 minutes. Comes in red, neon colors, and animal prints.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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