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Product Type: Toys
Award: Platinum
Age: Preschoolers
Review Year: 2013

 

 
2013 Awards
Ravensburger My First Puzzle At The Farm
(Ravensburger $9.99 Score:)

For beginners, here are nine two-piece puzzles featuring bold graphics of typical farm animals, as well as a tractor, and farming couple. With beginners you may want to introduce just one puzzle at a time rather than all the pieces in the box. This gives you a chance to talk about the animals, their names, and the sounds they say. The chunky two-piece puzzles are made of sturdy cardboard that fit together with relative ease and introduce children to the concept of part and whole. As you play with these simple puzzles toddlers are also building language with learning the names of familiar farm animals. This is one of a series of beginning puzzles. Marked 2 & up. Although some twos will be able to do these with help, this will be a better choice for slightly older children with more dexterity.

SNAP: Play an I Spy Game: Once children are familiar with all the puzzles and have played with them as suggested above, you can play another game with them. After the animals are together take turns making the animal sound of one of the animals and other player finds and names the animal you are spying. Reverse the game and have child make an animal sound for the creature he is spying. A good game for developing language and dexterity.

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

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2013 Awards
Ravensburger My First Puzzle Adorable Animals
(Ravensburger $9.99 Score:)

For beginners, here are nine two-piece puzzles featuring bold graphics of familiar animals: two cats, duck and duckling, lion and cub, mare and colt, a pair of dogs, rabbits, monkeys, and cows. With beginners introduce just one or two puzzles at a time rather than all the pieces in the box. This gives you a chance to talk about the animals, their names, and the sounds they say. The chunky two-piece puzzles are made of sturdy cardboard that fit together with relative ease and introduce children to the concept of part and whole. As you play with these simple puzzles toddlers are also building language with learning the names of familiar farm animals. This is one of a series of beginning puzzles. Marked 2 & up. Although some twos will be able to do these with help, this will be a better choice for slightly older children with more dexterity.

SNAP: Play an I Spy Game: Once children are familiar with all the puzzles and have played with them as suggested above, you can play another game with them. After the animals are together take turns making the animal sound of one of the animals and other player finds and names the animal you are spying. Reverse the game and have child make an animal sound for the creature he is spying. A good game for developing language and dexterity.

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

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2013 Awards
Ravensburger My First Puzzle Garden Animals
(Ravensburger $9.99 Score:)

For beginners, here are nine two-piece puzzles featuring bold graphics of some less-than-familiar garden animals: a snail, hedgehog, mole, frog, butterfly, ladybug, bumblebee, bluejay, and mouse. Unlike other puzzles in this series the knowing and naming part may take more time to master. The chunky two-piece puzzles are made of sturdy cardboard that fit together with relative ease and introduce children to the concept of part and whole. As you play with these simple puzzles toddlers are also building language with learning the names of familiar farm animals. This is one of a series of beginning puzzles. Marked 2 & up. Although some twos will be able to do these with help, this will be a better choice for slightly older children with more dexterity.

SNAP: Play an I Spy Game: Once children are familiar with all the puzzles and have played with them as suggested above, you can play another game with them. After the animals are together take turns making the animal sound of one of the animals and other player finds and names the animal you are spying. Reverse the game and have child make an animal sound for the creature he is spying. A good game for developing language and dexterity.

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

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2013 Awards
Ravensburger My First Puzzle At the Construction Site
(Ravensburger $9.99 Score:)

For beginners, here are nine two-piece puzzles featuring bold graphics of big machines used at construction sites. Unlike some other puzzles in this series, the knowing and naming part may take more time to master. Learning the names of a dump truck, cement mixer, and other images makes this a better choice for older preschoolers. The chunky two-piece puzzles are made of sturdy cardboard that fit together with relative ease and introduce children to the concept of part and whole. As you play with these puzzles children are also building language with learning the names of familiar things. This is one of a series of beginning puzzles. Marked 2 & up. Although some twos will be able to do these with help, this will be a better choice for slightly older children with more dexterity.

SNAP: Play an I Spy Game: Once children are familiar with all the puzzles and have played with them as suggested above, you can play another game with them. After the vehicles are together say, I spy a truck that can dig or I spy a truck that is blue and can dump things out. Use these puzzles for reinforcing color concepts and actions. A good choice for developing language and dexterity.

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

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2013 Award
Ravensburger Vehicles Puzzle in a Suitcase
(Ravensburger $13.99 Score:)

A handsome 24-piece floor puzzle with bold clear images of a dozen vehicles that are labeled by name. The big cardboard pieces are best worked on the floor allowing kids to put together a big 27 X 19-inch image to talk about. Knowing and naming the signs and vehicles helps develop language and fitting the pieces develops dexterity, problem solving, and staying with a task that is not instantaneous. All the big pieces fit into the sturdy suitcase box with carrying handle and Velcro closure. A good take-along for overnights visits. This should make a huge hit with the many kids who are fascinated with transportation at this age. 3 & up.

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

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2013 Award
Plan Toys Gears & Puzzles Deluxe
(Plan Toys $44.99 Score:)

Build the base with square puzzle pieces and then add the gears to connect them into a machine that can be activated by little hands. There are endless ways to make the pieces spin. This clever set comes with 24 pieces including one big gear that can activate the smaller gears. Call it preschool physics. Marked 2 & up. For 2's and younger 3's this will be a parent/child activity. Older preschoolers will like doing open-ended explorations to create unique 'machines' that they can play with and start all over again.

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

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2013 Award
Crayola Marker Maker
(Crayola $24.99 Score:)

Imagine being able to make your own markers and even blend the colors to make your own unique choices! That's what this innovative toy can do. It comes with a good supply of ink, marker barrels, plugs, tips, and cores. The process is relatively simple. You put the filler core ito a holder and pour ink into the holder. When the core absorbs the ink you use the giant tweezers to place the core into a barrel. Then the "machine" lever puts the plug in place with two snaps. Next, the tip goes in place and you let the marker continue to absorb ink up to the tip. There is a color chart that shows how kids can combine colors to get custom blends that make their markers better than any they could just go out and buy ready made. There are refill kits available. A word of caution: these are not washable inks, so protect clothing and work surfaces. The kit is marked not for children under 3, but we think this is a more appropriate choice for kids over 5 with adult supervision.

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

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2013 Award
Calico Critters Adventure Tree House
(International Playthings $70 Score:)

Get your critters ready for real adventure in this three level tree house with a two-story slide, a cabin on top, and ladders for getting up and down. There is a swing big enough for two to share as well as a bucket on a pulley for getting supplies up and down with ease. There is plenty of room inside for cozy living. You can combine this setting with the Lakeside Lodge vacation house. Like all settings in this line, the animals and furniture pictured on the packaging are not included in the set, but sold separately.

Our tester loved the little log cabin playhouse that is on the top of the tree house and the slide. She also likes the pulley for transporting small treasures to the different levels of the tree house.  The only negative comment was that the swing comes off the branch easily. This experienced 6 year old Calico Critters fan, incorporated her Tree House into her other settings to create a village.  Her mom noted that she would recommend Calico Critters to other parents because the line has lasting play appeal. 

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

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2013 Award
Wondeworld Wonder Trix Track Spin and Swirl
(Wonderworld $59.99 Score:)

Like other Trix Track sets, this is a cleverly designed wooden ball run for younger builders. Chunky pieces and blocks make it more stabile than most and it comes with interesting steps, runs, and spinner that send the balls racing over the track. There is no absolute right or wrong way to put this together and this set can be used in combination with other Trix Track sets. Our test family really loved this set. Marked for 3 & up, we'd say three will have more luck playing with this than building it; but that is one way to start. Have your child find the pieces and help connect them as you model how it's done.

 

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

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2013 Award
Wonderworld Wonder Trix Track 2 Way Flipper
(Wonderworld $59.99 Score:)

A cleverly designed wooden ball run for younger builders. Chunky pieces and blocks make it more stabile than most and it comes with interesting steps, runs, and a 2 way flipper that will send balls to the left or right. There is no absolute right or wrong way to put this together and this set can be used in combination with other Trix Track sets. Our test family was really delighted with this set. Marked for 3 & up, we'd say three will have more luck playing with this than building it; but that is one way to start. Have your child find the pieces and help connect them as you model how it's done.

 

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

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