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Product Type: Toys
Award: Blue Chip
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 

 
2001 Award
Go Bananas!
(Gamewright $10 Score:)

Players try to get all the cards in the deck by being the first to spot a pair of wild and mild monkeys, a wild 'gator, or bananas. But spotting them is not enough! You have to remember to call out the right command. Staying in the swing, so to speak, takes memory and concentration. Our 7-year old tester beat the grown-ups every time!   A fun card game to take along for traveling and playing as you go and when you get to your vacation spot.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2001. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2000 Awards
Touch N Play Lotto
(Guidecraft $32 Score:) SNAP INFO: Four wooden playing boards and matching Lotto pieces have raised textured shapes for sensory feedback through the fingertips. This is an excellent choice for children with visual disabilities. (800) 544-6526.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2000.

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Awards
Plan Toys Fruit Play Set
(Brio $15 Score:) Like a real knife, there's a right and wrong side of the wooden "knife" that kids use to cut apart Velcroed halves of three wooden fruits. Veggies set also available. SNAP: Wooden fruits and veggies can be “cut” apart with wooden knife that seems to cut the Velcro-ed segments. Comes with lemon, orange, pear, mushroom, carrot, and tomato, plus board and wooden knife. Activity: Use fraction words when you ask child to cut you a half of one fruit or a quarter of something else. (888) 274-6869.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: .

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2009 Awards
Les Cheries
(Corolle $45 Score:)

We loved these dolls when they first hit the market back in 2003. They received a Platinum Award and we are now giving them a Blue Chip Award for 2009. Chloe, Camille, Clare, Cecile and Cathy are a multicultural collection of 13" dolls and are marketed as "best friend" dolls and are purposefully not fashion dolls. Our favorites this year are Cecile, an African American girl, with jeans, a knit shrug and glorious hair or Chloe, a brunette ballerina in a gossamer tutu. They are meant to look like girls of today. There are new clothes almost every year--but this is a collection that should not be missed.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Awards
Elmer's 3D Washable Paint Pens
(Elmer's $14.99 Score:)

Imagine getting a set of 31 squeezable "pens" with writing tips for drawing on posters or cards. Paints puff when dry and set includes primary colors plus pastels, glitter, and pearlized pens. This is a wow-wee kind of present that will get lots of use. Editor's note: These pens have been updated this year with gender-specific themes from Disney (fairies, cars, and princesses). While we preferred the gender-free cast of the original sets (Platinum from 2003) --these are still a great choice and the price still makes this a really affordable gift.

SNAP Activity: Motivating kids to practice writing just got easier with this huge set of colorful gluepens. To get the feel for shaping letters or numbers, this is a terrific material. Write letters that he needs to practice on separate index cards. Now have child trace the letters and make them big enough to see with ease. Make one card with the upper case and a matching card with the lower case. When the cards are dry your child will be able to play a mach it up game, matching the upper and lower case letters. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2003 Awards
Alex's Floor Standing Easel
(Alex $95 Score:) Taking the paints out of doors gives young artists a new scene- and if you add a bit of white paint to the colors they have an all new palette that looks like summer. Adding different paints and paper often inspires kids. Alex's wooden easel has a chalk board on one side and a dry-erase board on the other. Comes with a roll of paper, but we find that using clips and a pad of paper is easier for kids to handle with independence.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2007 Awards
Mad Math
(Patrix Communications $22.95 Score:) If math facts are a source of tension in your house, here are two games for working on those skills. Mad Math is a board game that has addition facts on one side and multiplication on the other. The goal is to get three pawns in a row on the board. You collect spaces by rolling the dice and finding the corresponding math fact on the playing board. The board is self-correcting, which is a plus.New for 2007, Delicio ($18.99 4), a clever memory game that teaches food families (in French and English). (888) 834-2380.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2004 Awards
eeBoo Pin the Tail on the Donkey
(eeBoo $15 Score:)

eeBoo has brought back this classic game with a variety of themes that will fit just about every birthday party.  Here's the classic version--happily  printed on a sturdy reusable poster and comes with a bandanna blindfold and two sets of 16 self-adhesive tails—no tacks needed!  A good party prop for several years of play. 

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2004. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2004 Award
Moose in the House
(Gamewright $9.99 Score:)

There's a Moose in the House remains one of our all time favorite card games.  It's unlike most other games you'll play with your kids nad has a sense of humor and great artwork. Calls for visual discrimination skills!  So we have elevated this unique game to BLUE CHIP status!

Here's our original review:

One of the most innovative card games we have played in years. The cards have pictures of empty rooms, doors, and moose in the same rooms. The object is to place as many moose in your opponents’ house of cards as possible. The player with the fewest moose at the end of the game, wins. Easy to learn and a lot of fun to play! 2-5 players.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2004. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2002 Awards
CedarWorks Gazebo Slant 1 Playset
(CedarWorks $3100 Score:) The Gazebo is a big time investment in backyard fun. Made out of northern cedar, the company guarantees that its sets are splinter free. What we really like about the Gazebo system is that you can add guard rails all the way around the raised platform for added safety. As your kids grow, you can remove the rails for added climbing opportunities. Kids love having a clubhouse of their very own and that's what the Gazebo does (without having to build a tree house!) Starter sets begin at $1400 from this top of the line playset company, but you can always spend more. You can customize your "dream set" on CedarWorks website, on the phone or with an authorized dealer. With all climbing systems, adult supervision is a must. The government recommends a minimum of 6 inches of ground covering (wood chips, recycled mulch, pea stones, fine sand) with a minimum perimeter of 6 feet. For more safety guidelines, please visit www.cpsc.gov.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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