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Product Type: Toys
Award: SNAP
Review Year: 2012


2012 Awards
Little Hare Puppet
(Folkmanis $12.95 Score:)

This small hand puppet will not overwhelm the hand of a small child. It looks amazingly lifelike - not the usual pastel Easter bunny. A lot more like the ones in the garden that nibble, nibble. Also in the same collection, a Little Raccoon and a Little Chipmunk that would make good companions in scale and authentic looks. For extra dramatic moments, add the swampy green Little Alligator, a scruffy looking jungle Little Lion or for woodland adventure add the Little Bear.

SNAP Adaption: for kids who cannot manipulate hand puppets, put them on top of cans or plastic bottles that can be slid around a table top. This group of puppets is made smaller than many and may be easier to use on the hand or over containers.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on

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2012 Award
Crayola Mess-Free Marker and Paper
(Crayola $9.99 Score:)

We have seen reviews online about this product drying out quickly and the tip breaking off. We disagree with the age label of 12 months. However, we do think with adult supervision this may be a useful tool for kids with physical challenges. We are recommending it solely for that purpose.

SNAP AWARD: New to their Color Magic line, this chunky marker is designed for an easy whole hand grip and the colorless ink makes magical colors on the special color magic paper. Although this is being marketed with a label 12 months & up, this is a product with far more value to kids with fine motor challenges. We think this may be a gem for some kids who cannot grasp a regular writing tool. Of all the tools in the line, this black and white graphic is not so babyish that it will offend older kids. Use this for encouraging kids to explore the thrill of creating lines and swirls and discovering how to control their hand movements. After they have had the fun of exploration you can even use this for tracing shapes and letters. Be Forewarned: The marker will dry out if left open for any length of time. Also, this is not going to last a long time. It does produce a fine line that children who are learning to write their names or letters will be thrilled with being able to produce! There are also My First Crayons in this line packaged two colors-red and blue or yellow and green in a pack. The holders are more babyish looking but they are easy to grasp. The pointed tip on the crayon is likely to break off, but then the crayon can be extended and will have a blunt and more user-friendly tip. These will hold up longer than the mess-free marker and work on any kind of paper, but they are less magical and more babyish.

Age: . Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on

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2012 Awards
Educational Insights Puppet-on-a-Stick
(Educational Insights $24 Score:)

Three zany looking puppet heads are on rods with levers that make their mouths move. They have googly eyes, three colors, and odd-looking head shapes. These may in fact be easier for kids to manipulate than the usual hand glove puppets and with their strange look may lend themselves to original story telling. 4 & up.

SNAP AWARD: Given their rod holding design, these may be easier for kids with physical challenges to operate. They can be held in one hand and the mouths made to move with the other hand. So these may be real find.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on

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2012 Awards
Learning Resources Farmer's Market Color Sorting Set
(Learning Resources $39.99 Score:)

Five plastic baskets come with fruits and veggies to sort by color. There are stick-on color labels to put on the basket and five pieces of food in each color. These are well-proportioned props for pretend stores, and kitchens that are also useful for building knowing and naming language skills as well as possible games of counting and making patterns. The set comes with 30 pieces that will find their way into all sorts of pretend play and learning games. 3 & up.

SNAP GAME: Put three veggies in a row. Have/help child name them. Have child turn away a you remove one. Can he tell which one is missing? Try it another way. Have child turn away while you add a fourth piece. Can he tell the name of piece added?

SNAP GAME: For kids working on beginning sounds put down three or four of the foods and say, I'm thinking of something that starts with the same sound as bird, bug, bobby...if that doesn't do it add another clue it rhymes with Hannah....did they find the banana?

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on

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2012 Awards
Journey Girls Kelsey & Friends
(Toys R Us $32.99 Score:)

With her striking auburn hair and hazel eyes, our 2011 Platinum winner, Kelsey is one of a collection of multi-ethnic 18" dolls that will not break the bank. For 2012, new clothes have been added to the collection and her affordable wheel chair is still available. She's featured as the most fearless--a girl who likes to go climbing and hiking. Maybe that is why she arrived along with a wheel chair and crutches set ( sold separately $24.99) She wears sensible outdoor clothes, a fleecy zippered vest, insulated knit shirt, shorts, walking shoes and carries a rugged backpack. All the dolls in the collection have soft bodies, jointed shoulders and luxurious hair for styling. Dressed in sports clothes they are active girls ready to take adventurous journeys. Their eyes do not open and close and they are not very flexible. Kelsey sits in the wheel chair with her legs stiff in front of her. Her hips are not jointed, so she sits, but stiffly. That said, they are an affordable alternative to many very pricey 18" dolls. Tanya is African American and heading for New Orleans Jazz Festival. Meredith is a blonde beauty dreaming of skiing in the Alps. Callie is an Asian girl, who longs to go to London and Alana is a Latina heading for Rome.

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

The wheel chair and crutches are listed and sold separately. Like the dolls, they are more affordable than most and well made.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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