Blue Chip Choices
For Every Age
Tags: classics, blue chip
Posted: 2011-11-03 09:55:55 By: Joanne Oppenheim




2011 Awards
Tolo Gripper Rattle
(Reeves International $10 Score: )

We're delighted that this previous Platinum Award winning toy is back in the market. What we wrote in 2000: This rollable rattle has four easy to grip handles and an hour glass shape inside with tiny balls that roll from side to side with a sound that is interesting without a jarring startle. This is a good one for two handed play as well as crawling go get it games.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2011.




2011 Awards
(Ravensburger $20 Score: )

If you're looking for a game to reinforce color and shape concepts, Colorama is a strong choice.  Roll the dice. If you get a circle and red--you need to place one of the red circles on the board. The game is over once the board is completed filled in.  A good parent/child game or a game to be played cooperatively by a group of kids working on the same skills.  Colorama will have a short term appeal - but when you're in that knowing and naming zone for colors and shapes, it provides a fun way to build your child's competence and confidence.

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




2011 Awards
Guidecraft One to Four Sorter
(Guidecraft $25 Score: )

Hands-on learning is built-in to this classic math for beginners puzzle. There are 16 wooden pieces that fit on the rounded pegs. They have 1-2-3 or 4 holes that fit on the 1-2-3 or 4 pegs. The smooth wooden pieces are colored with aniline dyes and made of eco-friendly rubberwood. Everything fits on the smooth natural finished base. Use these for color sorting as well as matching numbers. This comes with a small activity booklet with good ideas for introducing the toy and math and color concepts. This also develops fine motor skills and eye hand coordination. 2 & up.

SNAP: A good choice for beginning counting skills and developing visual discrimination.

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




2011 Awards
Maisy Game
(Briarpatch $20 Score: )

Happily this former Platinum and SNAP Award (1995) winning game has been brought back this year!  It now has the designation of Blue Chip Award winner.  One of the most beautifully designed color concept games we've ever reviewed. Players spin and pick up sturdy cardboard cutouts to match color, pattern and objects on their picture board of Maisy. Develops language and matching skills with a favorite character. 

SNAP INFO: Use this matching game to reinforce color words, patterns and knowing and naming the objects on the "lotto" style playing boards. ACTIVITY: Give each player a card and give riddles for finding the object that is the answer, for example, "I'm thinking of something that is round that you can bounce." The child who picks up ball gets to put it on her card.

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




2011 Awards
Cabbage Patch Fashionalities
(Jakks Pacific $34.99 Score: )

Take your pick of these 12 charming Cabbage Patch dolls. This newly reintroduced line includes both boys and girls, fair and dark haired, in many skin tones and cute easy on and off clothes. Many come with glasses that are especially pleasing for kids who also wear them. These are 14" soft fabric dolls with their typically silly faces and huggable bodies. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2011.




2011 Awards
Colorforms 60th Anniversary Edition
(University Games $26 Score: )

What could be better than bringing home one of your childhood favorite toys and sharing it with your children or grandchildren? That's what you can do with this replica of the original Colorforms Set that has 350 geometric pieces in a spiral book and playboards to put them on. Unlike all the licensed images that followed since 1951, this is a more open ended set that allows kids to create their own themes. There is a small insert with images that can be copied, but best of all, this is an invitation to explore and discover how shapes can be transformed into designs and less literal images from one's own imagination. It's also an art form with no messy residue and no right or wrong rules. Getting the pages started may call for some adult help, but playing with the shapes develops fine motor skills, dexterity, and creative thinking.

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




2011 Awards
Lucky Ducks Sesame Street Edition
(Hasbro $29.99 Score: )

We gave the original Lucky Ducks game an award years ago when it first arrived on the scene. In this new edition, the game play has not changed but Ernie has been added to the motorized game board. Players stand in front of one of four color symbols- their home base. When the game begins players take turns picking up a duckie hoping to be the first to collect three ducks with their home symbol on the bottom. It's a fun matching game that reinforces color and shape concepts as well as turn taking and learning about the gamesmanship reality--you win some and lose some. There is no reading involved in this preschool matching game. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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




2011 Awards
North American Bear Flatopig
(North American Bear Co. $36 Score: )

Welcome back Flatopig! A few years ago we gave the original version of Flatopig a Platinum Award. That one was retired for a while but the review vanished from our site. Like the original Flatopig this big 25" huggable is understuffed and like all the other Flatso farm critters, it is totally pleasing for toddlers who like big dolls to lug about, but cannot handle anything too heavy. The company tells us the new version is softer and has denser plush, and black stitched eyes instead of blue. In the new line there is also a much smaller 15" version ($17); a much smaller $10 rattle or an all new Flatopig cozie($10) But, keep in mind, the giant 25" version is the 'Wo-wee!' choice.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on




2011 Awards
Labyrinth, A Race for Treasures in a Moving Maze
(Ravensburger $28 Score: )

You may have played this game as a kid. This is the 25th Anniversary Edition of a challenging game that is never the same twice. The playing board keeps changing so there are always new mazes to travel. This anniversary edition is packaged in a tin box for safe-keeping and includes 12 extra maze cards with encrypted messages. You move your character through the maze seeking treasures hidden in the sliding tiles of the labyrinth. After 25 years and millions of players, this qualifies as a classic for 10's & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on




2011 Awards
Big Boggle
(Hasbro $19.99 Score: )

For Boggle aficionados this is the ultimate Boggle game with a bigger grid and nine more letters than the standard game. With this new edition you can make longer words or just more words than the original game. Shake the cubes, turn the 3 minute sand timer and start writing! When time is up players read their list and cross out any words the other player also saw. Your score is then based on the words left on your list. They have added a double letter cube that adds Qu, An, He, Er, Th, and In to your word building choices. We have to admit to being addicted to the Boggle App on the iPad, but this one allows more people to play at one time--a great family game. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on




2011 Award
(Hasbro $$12.99 Score: )

With all of the new versions of Monopoly that come and go, we felt it was important to honor the original. In our opinion, most of the electronic versions take away the fun of monopoly. Where's the fun if you're not the banker and responsible for giving the right amount of money back on a  purchase?  The "electronic banker" removes all of those great math skills from the game play.  While it may take a bit longer to play, have your child be the banker.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on


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