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Product Type: Toys


(Jamtown $8 Score:) We loved the sound quality and authentic folk beauty of a carved Peruvian shaker ($8), Gourd Scraper ($16), and rosewood Clave Sticks from Mexico ($12). You can buy a small drum, claves, and shaker in a Jamtown Jr. kit with a cassette tape ($35). These and other folk instruments from places like Africa and Indonesia make unusual gifts for the family.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: .

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2000 Awards
Oogly Googly
(Learning Resources $20 Score:) Our PLATINUM AWARD winner in 2000 is a motorized Gears! creation that can be built in three or more ways. Based on the original and still wonderfully open-ended Gears! Gears! Gears! this kit comes with giant Oogly Googlie Eyes that jiggle and wiggle as the creature rolls along. These are still great toys that develop problem-solving skills as well as dexterity. They don't come out of the box ready made, but once they are built kids can take extra pleasure in playing with what they have created. .

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2000.

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1995 Awards
Windows & Doors
(Haba $25 Score:)

We're always on the look out for props to add to building blocks and these are good fun. Add these working doors and windows that are scaled to unit blocks. Fitting them in place takes some problem solving.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 1995. Click here to purchase the product on

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1997 Awards
Tinkle, Crinkle, Rattle, & Squeak
(Gund $10 Score:) A classic velour caterpillar-shaped toy with multiple sounds in each section of the bug's body and bright primary colors for eye-grabbing attention. For the youngest, you'll need to squeeze the toy to get baby's attention. In time baby will be finding ways to activate and investigate this toy. Available in black, red and white as well as in primary colors. SNAP INFO: Each section of the brightly colored worm has a different sound. An ideal toy that matches your infant's sensory learning style.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 1997.

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2000 Awards
Familiar Things
(Lauri $18.95 Score:)

Twelve two-piece rubbery puzzles of familiar objects makes this a good place to begin with older toddlers. Start with a few sets at a time. Talk about the objects, what they are called, and what they do. 2 & up.

SNAP INFO: These whole piece puzzles are relatively easier to rotate and discover where and how they fit. They are also handsome for language games and dramatic play. ACTIVITY: Play an I Spy game with some of the pieces. Say," I'm thinking of something that flies-what is it?" Can the child find the butterfly?..."I spy something that has wheels." Can the child find the car.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2000. Click here to purchase the product on

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Ring'n Rattle Phone
(Fisher-Price $12.99 Score:) This phone not only rings but rattles and shakes when tots hit the big red button. Takes 2 AA batteries. This will either delight your tot or send him in the other direction. Try before you buy! SNAP INFO: Imagine a phone that shakes and rattles when kids hit the big red button. For some kids the action will be amusing and for others alarming. Try before you buy!

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: .

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1995 Awards
Lego Duplo
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

You can't go wrong with chunky plastic Lego Duplo building blocks to fill and dump, snap together, and take apart are basic gear for older toddlers and preschoolers. Small sets are good for add-ons, but be sure to start with a large enough set. 1 & up. There are also themed licensed sets that can be fun additions-but are not as open ended as a basic bucket.

SNAP INFO: Open ended Duplo blocks are ideal for stacking and building, but they are also fun for classifying games. ACTIVITY: Play a sorting game by putting all the red pieces together, then the yellow pieces and so on. These are ideal for developing fine motor skills as well as language, counting and color concepts.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 1995. Click here to purchase the product on

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1995 Awards
Littlel Tikes Shopping Cart
(Little Tikes $30 Score:)

This bright yellow cart with baby seat is more gender free than most doll carriers. Lends itself to more open-ended pretend shopping and simply carting treasures about games. Room for a doll or teddy bear simply makes it more like the real thing.

SNAP INFO: Solidly built for lots of pretend, this shopping cart has a seat for doll or teddy when kids need a shopping spree play time.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 1995. Click here to purchase the product on

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2000 Awards
Little People Dump Truck and Bulldozer
(Fisher-Price $9.99 Score:) These are small-scaled working vehicles that come with Little People play figures to load and unload. Though they have working parts they are not too complex for young toddlers to handle with ease. Made of rugged plastic these are fine for sand play or indoor dramatic play. Both are lightweight enough to take along to the park or beach.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2000.

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1998 Awards
Loader /Dump Truck
(Little Tikes $12 Score:) Scaled down and light-weight, these are perfect to take to the park, beach or sandbox. Made of rugged plastic these have smooth edges and won't rust if left out in the sand. Perfect for filling and dumping and vroom! vroom! games.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 1998.

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