Propping up Pretend Play
Important Learning Tools
Tags: puppets, dollhouse, role-play
Posted: 2012-04-19 11:42:36 By:




2012 Awards
Blossom Cottage
(Big Jigs $119 Score: )

A relatively small painted wooden doll house with lift up roof that makes getting into the house easy. It has a carry handle feature, but would be a tad heavy for young children to handle on their own. That said, this is a good scale for a small space or as a good toy for Grandma's little visitors. It comes furnished with a family of four and 18 pieces of furniture. You fold the front down to reveal a painted garden, as well. Marked 3 & up. 

SNAP This small uncomplicated house will fit on a table top or wheelchair table.

Age: Preschool. Award 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




2012 Award
New Sprouts Cure It! My Very Own Doctor Kit
(Learning Resources $24.99 Score: )

The black bag is back! But are there still doctors carrying them? Never mind, it will store all the chunky plastic tools a pretend doctor needs: a stepthoscope, ear scope, thermometer, syringe, and bandage. These upsized pieces are intended for early games of make-believe. Ideal for playing out feelings about those well-baby check-ups. Our tester found that the sticker o the thermometer ripped when the prop was twisted in play. That said, she reports that the kit made an awesome hit! "He loved everything about this set! He loved organizing the tools into the cute doctor bag. He loved using each tool one after the other, and the syringe is especially cool because it has the plastic accordion piece inside to mimic giving a real shot. He loved using the ear scope to check not only ears, but eyes and mouths as well!"

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




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




2012 Award
eeBoo Paper Dolls, A Day in Paris
(Lizzy Rockwell, eeBoo $15 Score: )

O-o-o La La! Two cardboard paper dolls come with sturdy reversible setting---a pastry shop/ cafe and two sheets of stick-on clothing and accessories. The pastry chef comes with work clothes and accessories, as does the customer. Of course, the playfigures are interchangeable and can play different roles. Like all the paper dolls in this charming series, the dolls are multicultural. The art in this set was designed by illustrator, Lizzy Rockwell. 5 & up.

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


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