Ten Great Wooden Toys
New Classics in the Making
Tags: wooden toys, classics
Posted: 2011-10-26 10:06:09 By: Joanne Oppenheim

 

 

 

 
2011 Awards
CitiBlocs Little Builders Rattle Blocks
(Citiblocs $35 Score: )

22 wooden blocks with rattle sounds inside, colorful rooftops, and staircases are designed for beginning builders. These are chunkier than the classic Citiblocs. These smoothly finished blocks play to sensory feedback for little hands and ears. Stack them up high or line them up sideways. There is no right or wrong way to enjoy these. After they have played with the blocks for awhile, kids may like using the colored graphics to match up buildings of one color or set them up in patterns. Younger toddlers will like building them up and knocking them down with a big kaboom! 2 and up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

SNAP Activities: These blocks are chunkier and somewhat easier to grasp. They are also a bit more literal with premade roof tops and colored strips. They should be enjoyed independently, but you can aslo use them to reinfoce color words and sorting skills. Build an all red striped building or talk about the colors of the roof tops. Help build two buildings that are the same height. Talk about building by adding one more and one less. These concepts are basic to math, but they are best learned in concrete ways that build understanding.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 

 
2011 Awards
PBS Kids Exploration Blocks: Building
(PBS Kids $29 Score: )

A 36-piece set makes a good choice for beginning builders or as an add-on to other block sets. Although these are not unit block size, they add interest as decorative elements. Some of the blocks are painted with small shaped that resemble windows. There are arches, cylinders, squares, rectangles, triangles and other odd shapes that kids will find useful for creative building. The set includes a cloth storage bag. All of the pieces are big enough to be safe for toddlers. 1 1/2 & up. There is also a smaller 23 piece set with interesting shapes that is also interesting. PBS Kids Tower Blocks (29.99)

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: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Guidecraft Sun Sorter
(Guidecraft $25 Score: )

This is an open-ended puzzle for kids to explore. The 12 pieces are all the same size but in different colors. They fit back into the board with in any number of color arrangements. Or they can be arranged in a zig-zag line or a full circle outside of the puzzle board. Use them for color matching and naming with the beginner. There is a small booklet with playful ideas for introducing this clever puzzle. Made of rubberwood and stained with eco-friendly dyes, this is marked for 2 & up. We think this will be a tough for 2's but really good and challenging fun for 3-5's.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Educo Butterfly Push Pal
(HaPe $22 Score: )

Scaled just right for beginning walkers, this jolly push toy has a happy looking butterfly that rides on big red wheels and has multi-colored wings that flap as it is pushed forward. Holding something in their hand as they walk seems to help some beginning walkers with their balance. It's a way of holding on while letting go. This is not a weighted toy to hold them up. They need to be able to walk without it; but it is a fun toy for their new-found walking abilities.


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

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Educo All Season Dollhouse
(HaPe $129.99-189.99 Score: )

Three floors high, this modern six-room wooden dollhouse has 50's style licks of bright colors and is big enough for several children to enjoy together, with easy access from three sides rather than the usual one. It has clever adjustable stairs and even the roof that can be moved and rearranged. The house comes with four rooms of furniture for the family room, kitchen, bathroom and master bedroom. Or you can buy it without furnishings ($129.99) and add rooms and accessories gradually.  The company also makes a Caucasian or African American family that can be added for ($19.99.)

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Guidecraft Wooden Doll Buggy
(Guidecraft $70 Score: )

A basic and beautifully crafted prop for pretend play. This one is gender-free so it can be passed from siblings and cousins for years of baby tending. It's scaled low to the ground, just 17" high, has an adjustable handle and is very stable for younger pretenders. It's a cozy all wooden doll buggy with a birch finish and soft rubber tread wheels. Fitted out with beautiful blue cotton pillow, mattress and comforter. This will accommodate a doll up to 21-inches. This is one of those toys that will last long enough to pass along to the next generation. Also available in an espresso dark finish. 

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
HaPe Crazy Tower Game
(HaPe $29.95 Score: )

A new look in balancing games, this handsome wooden set has 19 columns, 2 little figures, 9 platforms and one fancy top. To begin the game you set up one platform and place 7 columns on the painted edge. Now put another platform in place and 7 more columns. Put another platform on top. The object of the game is to take a column from below and place it on the new platform. Players take turns adding columns and platforms. Watch out! You don't want to make the tower tumble! The wood is bamboo and they have used water-based colors with a bees wax coating. It's an eco-friendly toy that the whole family can play. Put it in a basket on a table where the family gathers and have a go at it. They say 3 and up. We think this will be less frustrating and more fun for slightly older kids.


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: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Chuggington Wooden Railway Trainee Roundhouse Set
(Learning Curve International $119.99 Score: )

The middle sized set in this new series of trains from the folks that brought you Thomas the Tank. The set comes with 32 pieces of wooden track with plastic/wooden accessories. The set comes with two trains (Koko & Brewster) and a roundhouse that can hold three engines. One of the nice features of this series is that the accessories come apart so that they can be used in more than one way. For example in this set, the clock tower can stack on top of the roundhouse or be removed and used as a small tunnel elsewhere. Our testers have generally loved these sets but have noted that the tracks do not stay connected as well as the Thomas sets (which is odd since they're made by the same company!).

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Chuggington Wooden Railway Double-Decker Roundhouse with Elevated Turntable
(Learning Curve International $99.99 Score: )

Here's the "big" accessory for this new line of trains based on the show Chuggington. The roundhouse  can either be used stacked to provide an unusual two-story structure. It comes with a elevated turntable
in order to get the trains up and down from the second story (pretty cool). Or you can take the two halves of the roundhouse and use them to create a circle around your track. What we really love is that you can ascending pieces to add trains to the second story. There's something very cool about building height in train settings. Our tester did note that it seems more "plastic" than Thomas--but the amazing functionality of this prop outweighed all of those esthetic concerns. 


Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


 

 


2011 Award
Guidecraft Wooden Doll Bed
(Guidecraft $50 Score: )

This looks a little like the bed that baby bear's bed in the Three Bears, doesn't it? Perfect for dolls up to 21-inches, this solidly crafted all wooden doll's bed is smooth and just right for putting teddy bears and dollies to sleep for the night or a nap. It comes fitted out with a blue mattress, pillow and comforter. A very special gift that will hold up for many years to come. Also available in an espresso dark finish.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 
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