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Product Type: Toys
Age: Toddlers

 


2009 Award
Kids Preferred Peter Rabbit Hand Puppet
(Kids Preferred $15 Score:)

A silky plush Peter Rabbit with velour blue jacket with stitched gold buttons and safe stitched features. Soft enough to be a huggable, this has the added value of being a hand puppet that older sibs and parents can use for peek-a-boo games with baby or telling a story. From tracking to story telling, this is a great toy for interacting, language development and pretend play. All ages.

Age: Infants, Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
Lamaze Stack, Roll and Crawl Ball
(Learning Curve International $20 Score:) A stack of rings fit onto a straight post, so there is no size order for fitting them on. However, to put the ball together, they will need to be in order. That said, this is a toy that can be enjoyed long before babies can put it together or take it apart. It’s a colorful ball with beads rolling around the top, that you can spin or roll back and forth with baby. Taking it apart will come before they can fit it back together…in order or otherwise. So, this is a versatile plaything that won’t roll too far away from beginning players, can encourage social behaviors, crawling and eventually eye hand coordination. 6 months & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Infants,Toddlers. Award Year: 2009.

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2009 Awards
Playskool Wheel Pals Train Station
(Hasbro $24.95 Score:)

Like a ball roll, this uncomplicated purple and blue upright “railway” has a twisting orange track that is similar to the ramp on a toy garage. Put the red and blue train engines on top, push the engine or the red railroad crossing sign blinks its light as down, down, down, the little engines roll with a “toot toot!” There’s a “chugga chugga” sound of a train-on-tracks as it comes through the green gate. Repetitive action will appeal to toddlers. Preschoolers may use this setting with their building blocks. Takes 2 “AA” batteries. 18 months & up.

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

SNAP IDEAS: Although this is labeled for toddlers, there is nothing babyish looking about this toy. It lends itself to lots of cause and effect action as well as repetition. Watching the little vehicles race down the track also involves visual tracking.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Crayola TaDoodles Drop & See
(Crayola $19.99 Score:) Unlike most ball drop toys that run from top to bottom, the ball in this run travels one level at a time. This is a good idea in designing toys for babies. Too many are frenetic and go so fast it is hard for babies to see any cause and effect. Here there are three levels and baby needs to activate the ball to move along at each level with a push of a lever. In a sense, this should make it easier to track visually and puts baby in charge of making the action happen. Each lever activates a sound and motion. Unfortunately, the idea and design did not work as we hoped it would. Several testers reported that the levers were just too hard for even 18 month old babies to activate and that the toy fell over a lot, making it more frustrating than fun for younger kids. The question is--will it hold the interest of older kids. We don’t think so. We really liked the idea of this toy and that it has a volume control and the tower on the side that stores the three balls. The color walls effect color changes, but we doubt babies will see these or understand anything about color mixing. Take 3AA batteries. 9 months & up.

Age: Infants,Toddlers. Award Year: .

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Plan Toys Push-Along Duck
(Plan Toys $35 Score:)

This all rubberwood push toy has a cute little duck that walks along with flip flop orange webbed feet. It makes an amusing quacking sound as it goes along. For a less noisy variation there’s a blue Push-Along Elephant ($35) that is slightly less noisy and a little harder to push. Though this is a pricey toy, it’s a classic toy that will appeal to toddlers. Once they are up on their feet and walking they enjoy anything that moves along with them and their active independent life style. 19 months & up.  The lower score reflects that there was some difficulty for many of testers to push these two with ease.  The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2009.

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2009 Awards
Alex Jr. Tub Joy Doggy, Ducky and Froggy Bath Mitts
(Alex $10 Score:)

These terry cloth bath puppets have colorful contrasting licks of bright terry and stitched on features. We loved the chartreuse frog with aqua snout and the aqua doggy with bright yellow snout and purple nose and the yellow duck with big orange beak. These will make scrubbing up at bath time much more fun for preschoolers who like playing wherever they go. They have cotton loops for hanging up to dry. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Infants, Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Awards
LeapFrog Tag Junior
(LeapFrog $35 Score:)

Tag Junior is really a well designed platform for the 2-4 crowd. The books are all printed on sturdy cardboard stock. Pre-readers can use the Tag device to make the books speak more than the apparent text on the page. There are more than 100 interactions in each book that invite children to find objects on the page, as well as simply reading what the page says. Unlike the original Tag toy that reads true storybooks along with interactive touch features, this junior version explores ideas that do not have to be "read" in sequence. For younger children who may dip into a book without regard to its sequence, this makes sense. The toy comes loaded with one book, If I Were, a book full of animal sounds. There are 8 other titles available and a total of 13 that will be released this year. You buy the extra books in the store and then you download the interactions into the Tag Junior device with your computer. There is an ABC Orchestra book, another with action words. One of the best for this age group is a color concept book featuring Curious George. Dora the Explorer is also the star of a bilingual counting book that goes from 1-10 (although for most 2-4's learning to count to five in one language is probably enough.) You'll want to share these books with your child before handing off the device that they can then use independently. A carrying case ($14.99) that holds the Tag Jr. and five books will come in handy for storage as the library grows. 2-4

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

SNAP ADAPTATION: The chunky sensor is easier than most to grasp. If it needs to be futher adapted, a glove with velcro in the mitt and a strip of velcro on the sensor may do the trick. Unlike simply reading along with a recording, this learning tool enables beginning readers to follow along and get the sense of how the text moves from left to right. It encourages readers to learn the "mechanics" of how a book works from front to back, from left page to right. Add to this the fun of exploring the pages and art to make things happen and this goes a few steps beyond any other read aloud story system with real books!

 

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2003 Award
Mega Bloks Little Builders
(Ritvik (Mega Bloks) $10.99 Score:) Our testers enjoyed playing with this 16-piece set that includes three bases and interchangeable tops, including ambulance, firetruck, and police car. Chunky enough for early road play. There is also a construction set for "road work." They say 1 & up, we'd say more like 2 & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2003.

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Baby Smartronics Speak & Teach Phone
(Fisher-Price $14.99 Score:) The new Baby Smartronics Speak & Teach Phone (Fisher-Price $14.99 ) did not test well. Cord is too short (our tot had to lean all the way over!) and the receiver is too hard to get back into the cradle.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: .

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Life Style Kitchen
(Step 2 $180 Score:) New for 2003, Life Style Kitchen ($180). For the toddler who needs the dream kitchen (in plastic, of course), this one comes with wainscoting, crown molding, simulated granite, and gooseneck faucet, and takes 12 AA batteries (that's a lot of lifestyle!). This was not ready for testing.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: .

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