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Fall 2014 Tillywig Award Winners

Toys & Games

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2 in 1 Multifunctional Electronic Bowling Game

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2 in 1 Multifunctional Electronic Bowling Game
Price $50
By DJ Toys Enterprise Corp.
Age
3+
Sterling Fun

This product, which includes two distinct games using the same electronic mat, is a particularly good fit for younger kids. Both games (Bowling and Whack a Mole) are physical activities that even very young children can do and which encourage development of motor skills. Regardless of which game they are playing, little ones find the mat's flashing lights, music, and sound effects to be exciting and stimulating. Another aspect that's a strong fit for young kids is that neither game is really about competing, but rather about being fun and physical. The bowling game uses 6 lightweight plastic pins on the mat and a bowling ball that is rolled to knock them down. During bowling, the scoring mechanism is mostly for effect, racking up points on an ongoing basis. During whack a mole, a flashing light moves randomly among the mat's six circled spaces, and each time a child touches a lighted space, a sound effect occurs and the score ticks up a point, with cheers sounding out as various levels are reached. The colorfully designed mat can be folded up compactly for easy storage. Requires 3 AAA batteries.

Balloon Blast

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Balloon Blast
Price $19.99
By Aldo, LLC
Age
3+
Sterling Fun

To children, helium-filled balloons are among the great wonders of the world. Watching them fly is magical. Unfortunately, one of the greatest joys - watching your balloon sail high up into the air - meant never seeing it again. Balloon Blast remedies that by turning any helium-filled balloon into an instant kite. Balloon Blast is a plastic hand-held device that releases up to 80 feet of ultra-thin line attached to a balloon or kite at the touch of a button. There are two arrow-shaped buttons - press the up arrow to release line and extend your flying height, or press the down arrow to bring your balloon or kite quickly back towards the earth. The easy-to-hold handle frees your thumb to jump back and forth between buttons for quick control of the action-filled fun. Balloon Blast comes with a free mini-kite and an airplane-shaped helium balloon (helium not included). Requires two AAA batteries.

Betcha Can't Win

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Betcha Can't Win
Price $28
By SimplyFun
Age
8+
Top Toy

Betcha Can't Win is one of the most exciting and competitive risk vs. reward games we've seen. Players roll dice to match sums shown on Number Cards. Number Cards are worth points, and a player who matches a card using the sum of any two or more dice collects that card. A player starts by rolling all 6 dice and then deciding on which cards to place dice. At least one die must be placed after each roll, but the others can be rerolled in an ongoing attempt to hit target sums. This creates a ticking time bomb - not only must a player's turn end once he or she has no dice left to roll, but placed dice that did not reach a card's sum will remain in place and can be used to the benefit of players who follow. Also keeping things on edge is the fact that cards collected during a player's turn are not automatically his or hers to keep, but must remain face up and available to other players to match until play has moved once around the table. Collecting a card becomes a hollow victory when the next player swoops in and snatches it right back! Fast, furious fun for 2 to 4 players.

BMXie

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BMXie
Price $89
By The CHILLAFISH Company nv
Age
2-5 yrs.
Top Toy

This balance bike is so cool and stylish-looking it will have moms and dads wishing they were kids again. Everything about it speaks to high quality - its look, feel, the BMX-styled frame, the fiberglass-reinforced material. This bike is built to last, and has the looks and functionality to match. The purpose of a balance bike is to give kids, even at quite a young age, 2-wheeled mobility. They travel by pushing off the ground with their feet, gliding along and lifting their feet whenever they choose. In so doing, they build the balance, stability, and confidence that creates a natural transition to two-wheeled pedal bikes. Meanwhile, they're having the time of their lives! The BMXie is lightweight, portable, has inflatable tires, tool-free seat adjustment, and a removable footrest. It even comes with a detachable front number plate and a set of sporty-looking decals that lets kids give it their own custom feel.

Crystal Growing Kit - Clear Quartz

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Crystal Growing Kit - Clear Quartz
Price $9.99
By Discover with Dr. Cool
Age
6-12 yrs.
Brain Child

Science kits from Discover with Dr. Cool provide a winning combination of hands-on exploration with genuine specimens, an information guide loaded with related science facts, and an activity booklet with ten fun, brain-expanding puzzles to solve. This Crystal Growing Kit provides everything kids need to grow a quartz-colored crystal in their own home and then compare it with the included quartz specimen. The steps are simple to follow - pour hot water into a container, add the crystal-growing powder and stir, then let it cool before adding the seed crystals. Kids' excitement and satisfaction will intensify as they watch crystals form and grow over the few days following those steps. During that time they can fill themselves with crystal-related knowledge from the kit's Adventure Guide. They'll learn about types of crystals, how crystals form, their uses, and details about the largest crystal ever found. The kit's Activity Booklet provides plenty of fun braniactivities for young minds - a Quartz Crossword, Crystal Word Search, Hidden Pictures, a Crystal Cave maze, and lots more.

Design Your Own Jewelry Program

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Design Your Own Jewelry Program
Price $2.99
By Sugar Lulu
Age
8+
Best Creative Fun

Few forms of self-expression are as personal and important to adolescent and teen girls as the sometimes intricate choices they make on a daily basis regarding what to wear. The smaller adornments in particular - rings, bracelets, necklaces - are what announce a personal sense of style to the world. Design Your Own Jewelry Program from Sugar Lulu gives girls the pleasure of expressing that individuality even more deeply by creating their own one-of-a-kind jewelry. With Sugar Lulu's fabulous variety of sticker packs, art charms, crystals, and adjustable necklaces, the process is simple, fast, easy, and fun - just pick some stickers, place them on a charm, add a bubble topper, then repeat to your heart's content. Each Jewelry Sticker pack contains 40+ stickers with hip, colorful designs. The adjustable charm necklaces and bracelets let girls add, remove, and mix the charms at will, putting endless creativity and individuality at their fingertips. Design Your Own Jewelry products from Sugar Lulu range in price from $2.99 to 17.99.

Easy-to-Make Embroidery Stitches

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Easy-to-Make Embroidery Stitches
Price $13
By 4M Industrial Development Limited
Age
8+
Best Creative Fun

This kit makes it extremely easy and enjoyable to learn a variety of embroidery stitches. Within minutes of opening the package, we had girls and boys deftly stitching away with the kit's plastic needles and six spools of colored embroidery floss. The step-by-step instructions teach the 10 basic stitches used in most embroidery, and the outline stencils make it simple for even a complete novice to get beautiful results. Just lay a stencil on top of one of the canvas sheets, place them within the embroidery hoop, thread the plastic needle with the color of your choice, and go. The Butterfly and Owl outline stencils complement one another perfectly, and for anyone wanting a cool finished product to show off (and who wouldn't?), the kit includes materials for making an embroidered mini-pillow or mini-bag. Craft heaven!

Fish Pop Molds

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Fish Pop Molds
Price $19.99
By Zoku
Age
3+
Top Toy

Kids absolutely love making and eating ice pop snacks with Zoku Fish Pop Molds. It's incredibly easy to use. Just pour fruit juice, yogurt, or some other favorite blend of fresh ingredients into the six molds and insert a different playful plastic fishtail into each. All six molds are in a single sea-blue base, so just pop it in the freezer and 8 hours later you're in ice pop heaven. The fishtails act as handles for holding the fish pops while eating, and the molds produce six different ice pops, finely-crafted little sculptures that are as much fun to look at as they are to eat. There's no need to run the mold under water to get your ice pop out - just pull and the rubbery mold inverts, releasing your treat. The set includes shark, clownfish, octopus, whale, pufferfish, and Zoku scuba diver fish pops. Mixing and matching the six tails with the different mold shapes produces fun and often surprising results.

Forever Steiff Friend

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Forever Steiff Friend
Price $49.99
By Luxury Kitten
Age
5+
Top Toy

The 129 year old company Steiff is famous for creating creatures of unparalleled quality, and this first edition Forever Steiff Friend from Luxury Kitten is no exception. Lovely and handmade, elegantly attired in a beautiful, elaborately detailed outfit, this classic Steiff 'Pilla' mouse comes with an updated twist and an appearance so vivid as to seem a storybook character come to life. And indeed, Madeline is a Habersham Forest creature sprung from the very pages of the wondrous book Sassafrass Jones and the Search for a Forever Home (see review in Books & Magazines section of our website). Each little detail - the flush in her cheeks, the soft, bushy fur atop her head, those intelligent eyes, and the tail peeking from beneath the bell of her dress - is so carefully realized as to create the impression that what we're seeing is a living, breathing character, one whose story we will want to know. Forever Steiff Friend comes beautifully packaged in a bow-tied hat box (Madeline is, after all, a milliner). Pure magic.

French Knitting Owl Doll Making Kit

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French Knitting Owl Doll Making Kit
Price $13
By 4M Industrial Development Limited
Age
8+
Best Creative Fun

This craft kit is particularly enjoyable for children, due in no small part to its ease-of-use and the exceptionally pleasing result it produces - a plump, colorful, happy-looking Owl Doll. The Owl Doll body is the first thing to be made, and the step-by-step instructions make for relaxed, focused work, winding the yarn around the French knitting reel and then using the crochet hook to lift and place the yarn over alternate prongs. The coordination to do this develops quickly due to the repetitive motions, and there's an obvious pleasure kids take in picking up speed as they settle into a rhythm. Once the owl body is ready it's stuffed (material included) and closed. Then it's time to add detail using the set of pre-cut felt shapes provided, which involves some handy stitch-work using the kit's plastic needles and a dab of glue here and there. Once again, the illustrated instructions make these steps quite gratifying, and the brilliant-looking, pride-inducing result leaves kids truly hooked on using their hands creatively and productively.

Grill Party

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Grill Party
Price $30
By SimplyFun
Age
8+
Brain Child

The ease with which Grill Party can be learned and played gives it broad appeal but also makes going deeper into the thinking aspects of game-play a natural evolution. Players alternate turns in which they 1) swap one of their own Grill Food Pieces with a Grill Food Piece from the Grill or from another player's food supply, and 2) play Grill Food Cards from their hand before replenishing those cards from their own draw pile. Because playing a given card requires that the balance of items on the Grill match the situation depicted on that card (e.g. no fish on the grill, more veggies than fish, etc.), the goal of players' swaps is to set up situations that enable them to play the most cards. This involves making comparisons, understanding inequalities, and trying out scenarios and outcomes in your head before taking action, skills that apply to mathematics, logic, and many other fields of endeavor. All this braniactivity takes place amidst lighthearted, exuberant fun, the sign of a very good game. The first player to play all their Grill Food Cards wins. For 2 to 5 players.

Ice Princess

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Ice Princess
Price $72
By A Wish Come True
Age
3-12 yrs.
Best Creative Fun

The degree to which outfits for dress-up play have blossomed in recent years is remarkable. This is due in no small part to manufacturers like A Wish Come True, a company whose focus is on producing high-quality, exciting costumes for a variety of ages. That emphasis on quality and detail is evident in their new Ice Princess dress, a garment lovely and regal enough to satisfy even the upper echelons of royalty. More importantly, young girls are thrilled at the sight of it and adore wearing it. This light blue one-piece dress is rich in detail, with sequin patterns in the bodice, a sheer outer layer from the waist down that hovers and flows, a shimmering, icy cape that hangs from the back of neck, and delicate blue sleeves that glitter and catch the eye. The material and seams are designed for comfort as well as optimal fit, and the lack of buttons or ties means easy on, easy off. Truly elegant!

InnoTab 3S Plus Learning Tablet

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InnoTab 3S Plus Learning Tablet
Price $79.99
By VTECH
Age
3-9 yrs.
Top Toy

This tablet designed just for kids is an extraordinary learning tool. Its Wi-Fi connection comes with kid-safe controls that allow exploration of VTech- and parent-approved websites. Kids can also use an exclusive free app available on the App Store and Google Play to exchange text and voice messages, photos, drawings, and more. InnoTab 3S Plus comes pre-loaded with 16 great apps (games, an art studio, video recorder, an e-reader . . .) and provides access to over 650 additional cartridges, software and apps. The expert-supported curriculum includes reading, math, social studies, handwriting, science, problem solving, geography and more. A built-in tilt sensor gives interacting with many of the games an especially exciting real-life quality. The 180-degree rotating camera contains over 55 special effects, and the Movie Maker app will turn kids into filmmakers in no time. For music fun and education, MP3s can be imported and played via the music player. And the rechargeable battery pack makes it easy to take this invaluable learning and entertainment resource with you anywhere you go.

Junior Starter Rainbow 400 Set with Guide Book

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Junior Starter Rainbow 400 Set with Guide Book
Price $85
By Morphun Education
Age
3-7 yrs.
Brain Child

There are a number of things that set this product apart from many other building sets on the market. One is the high level of structured guidance provided. The Guide Book includes more than 60 pages of easy-to-follow photographs showing, step-by-step, how to build an immense variety of models (letters, animals, autos, boats, dinosaurs, and lots more). In addition, six incrementally difficult instruction sheets show dozens more models to be built. The 400 patented, side-joining, rainbow-colored building bricks that make all this possible come neatly packaged in an attractive, portable tub. These squares, triangles, and wheels connect and disconnect with one another easily, yet create remarkably secure structures, a real plus for young children. The bricks, sized just right for the small hands for which they are intended, are equally well-suited for free play in which kids just start building and see what unfolds. The extraordinarily well-organized Guide Book provides experience that builds the intellect and frees the imagination to go on to bigger and greater things.

K'NEX: 70 Model Building Set

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K'NEX: 70 Model Building Set
Price $34.99
By K'NEX
Age
7+
Brain Child

You know you're playing with an ingeniously conceived building toy when your mind can be so intently focused on the task at hand and simultaneously free to wander. Those seemingly contradictory states of concentration and relaxation are the result, in part, of the great flexibility with which the K'NEX rods and connectors join to one another. Kids of all ages adore them, and for good reason. They connect so easily, yet firmly, that all manner of constructions are possible. The 70 unique models provided in the illustrated instructions include road vehicles, aircraft, sea creatures and other animals, and quite a few things you wouldn't imagine could be built using nothing but your hands - no tools, no screws, no glue. Ranging from relatively simple to surprisingly intricate, these models, and the process of building them, provides nourishment for the brain and a whole lot of fun. The 705 piece set comes in a sturdy package shaped like a tool chest that works well for storing the whole kit and caboodle when playtime's over.

LEGO Friends Jungle Bridge Rescue

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LEGO Friends Jungle Bridge Rescue
Price $29.99
By LEGO Systems, Inc.
Age
7-12 yrs.
Best Creative Fun

As with all of the products in the LEGO Friends series, this one provides an exceptional level of detail and personality. As a building toy, it gives children hours of fun during which their concentration and focus are rewarded with the gratification of working with their hands and seeing the structures, mini-figures, and vehicles take shape. Once the set has been completely assembled, the result is a tremendous imaginative toy that is used over and over again, with countless exciting scenes played out. Jungle Bridge Rescue is particularly stimulating in this respect because its assembled components inspire such action-filled scenarios. The rocky cliffs, rescue helicopter with moving rotor, the off-road medical vehicle with rolling wheels, Matthew and Mia mini-doll figures, and a baby bear that can be saved from the rickety rope bridge - these and the dozens of other detailed components endlessly stimulate children to engage in hands-on, mind-active play.

LEGO Ninjago Destructoid

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LEGO Ninjago Destructoid
Price $34.99
By LEGO Systems, Inc.
Age
8-14 yrs.
Best Creative Fun

This 253-piece building set includes three mini-figures - Zane (the ninja of ice), the powerful General Cryptor, and Min-droid, the miniature Nindroid Warrior - each with his own prowess, weaponry, and array of physical details. The Destructoid, a mobile purveyor of destruction if ever there was one, is the showboat of this set. Its command center - a fully rotatable platform that sits atop tank-like treads and has huge, arm-like appendages fanning out on either side - will cut a swath through anything in its path. Those mech arms are made all the more imposing by their fearsome weaponry (a large, rotating saw, a shield, and an over-sized, scimitar-shaped sword among them) and can be flexed and posed for battle. Gliding the Destructoid forwards or backwards causes two ground-level blades to spring into motion, chopping away. Pulling and releasing a piece at the rear causes the powerful disc shooter to send discs flying into enemy ranks. Perhaps the most formidable aspect of the Destructoid is the level of visual detail present in its every aspect, a dramatic fierceness that fires up the imagination.

Magna-Tiles Solid Colors 48 Piece DX Set

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Magna-Tiles Solid Colors 48 Piece DX Set
Price $64.5
By Valtech, LLC
Age
3+
Brain Child

This 48-piece set contains a variety of magnetic tiles in different shapes, sizes, and bold, beautiful colors that interact and adhere to one another as though by magic. With their imbedded magnets, these tiles have the unique ability to attract one another regardless of which way they are flipped. That flexibility and ease of use, combined with the inherent geometry of the shapes makes Magna-Tiles ideally suited to nurturing developmental growth on so many levels. Fine motor skills, pattern recognition, sorting, stacking, problem-solving, math skills, and endless creative play, to name a few. Kids of all ages become enthralled, and that aspect alone, the ability of Magna-Tiles to attract kids through the power of play to return again and again to creative and intellectual exploration, is invaluable. From simple 2-dimensional patterns and mosaics to surprising 3-dimensional shapes (cubes, soccer balls, pyramids, an elephant, the Eiffel Tower), parents will watch, amazed, as children progress through increasingly complex skills. Tile shapes include small and large squares, isosceles, right, and equilateral triangles, a wheeled chassis, imagination pieces, and more.

Magnetic Stick N Stack

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Magnetic Stick N Stack
Price $89.99
By Magnetic Stick N Stack
Age
3-12 yrs.
Brain Child

The Magnetic Stick N Stack line of toys includes a variety of magnetic building sets. The basic building blocks in each of these sets are plastic panels of various colors that contain embedded magnets - rectangles, squares and triangles of various sizes, as well as doors and windows and 4-wheeled panels for creating vehicles. These shapes are particularly beneficial in familiarizing children at an early age with the fundamental structures used throughout geometry, while at the same time promoting creativity. Placing the shapes together edge to edge causes them to link up with one another through magnetic force, allowing for the quick and easy creation of a wide variety of two- and three-dimensional structures. Children can make letters, numbers, buildings, rockets, pyramids, even a cathedral. Each of the building sets includes instructions that provide a wide variety of visual examples. The company also sells a 36-page book filled with ideas ranging from simple to elaborate. Great hands-on learning fun.

Makies

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Makies
Price $115
By MakieLab
Age
8+
Best Creative Fun

With Makies, boys and girls design their own dolls online, right down to the slightest facial details, then receive a physical version of the doll delivered anywhere in the world. Kids choose gender and skin tone, then select from a variety of outfits and hair styles and colors. A virtual version of the doll appears onscreen throughout the process so that kids see what their doll looks like every step of the way. The creativity involved is exceptional, particularly when it comes to the doll's face. The eyes, nose, mouth, and ears each have several characteristics that can be altered to the tiniest degree using sliding onscreen controls. It is amazing how even the slightest change to one facial feature alters not only the doll's look but the emotion it conveys. Designing the doll is free, and kids spend hours exploring the creative possibilities. Once the child settles on a final look, mom or dad place the order and your child's one-of-a-kind doll arrives within two weeks. Makies take the imaginative and creative play possibilities of dolls to a whole new level.

Maze Adventure

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Maze Adventure
Price $54.99
By Shepherd Kit, Inc.
Age
3-8 yrs.
Best Creative Fun

In its attention to detail, the Maze Adventure kit feels blissfully like a throw-back to a bygone era. The components appear to be handmade, and all but a few are made of wood. The packaging and contents appear as though assembled with care by someone preparing a gift for a loved one. This kit is really two kits, one of which lets kids assemble their own wooden-maze cities and run a marble through its streets, and another with which they create a functioning Mini Rube Goldberg Machine. With both activities, kids employ a combination of logical and creative processes, figuring things out and having a good deal of fun as they go. They'll reconfigure the mazes and enjoy the altered outcomes. With the Mini Rube Goldberg Machine kids create a brilliant collection of interactive elements (like tipping dominoes) that trigger one another until arriving at a practical outcome, powered by nothing but gravity. The kit's guide booklet also shows how to draw Celtic labyrinths, make mazes out of paper tape, and encourages children to modify the Rube Goldberg Machine with found items from around the house.

Mould & Paint Glow Owls

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Mould & Paint Glow Owls
Price $10
By 4M Industrial Development Limited
Age
5+
Best Creative Fun

Creative self-expression is something kids crave and enjoy from a very young age. In addition to the sheer enjoyment of engaging in a creative activity, there's the pride and confidence kids get from being able to be able to say, 'I made that!' Mould & Paint Owls, with its simple, easy-to-follow steps, makes it easy for them to get good results. Just mix the plaster powder with water, pour the mixture into the plastic owl moulds, and let it set for about an hour. Once the plaster has hardened, there are six quite different owls waiting to be painted, each with its own distinctive personality and lots of fine little details to their shapes. There are six color paints in all, including glow paint for adding touches that glow like magic in the dark. Safety pins and a magnetic strip are included for turning the owls into badges for wearing on T-shirts or creating refrigerator magnets. Either way, they're on display for friends and family to admire.

Mould & Paint Robots

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Mould & Paint Robots
Price $9
By 4M Industrial Development Limited
Age
5+
Best Creative Fun

The six robots kids can make and decorate using the plaster mix, moulds, and paint in this set are cute as can be. Each robot's design is quite different from the next, and each exudes a distinctly charming personality. That playful level of detail is what makes painting them so much fun - coaxing out the different designs on their chests, emphasizing the unique eye shapes - that, and their undeniable adorableness. Working with the moulds is easy. Just combine the plaster mixture and water, stir, and wait about an hour. Pop the little fellows out of their moulds and let the decorating begin! The paints provided are red, yellow, white, blue, and green, and kids are encouraged to combine those to access an array of additional colors. A magnetic strip is provided for turning the robots of your choice into refrigerator magnets, while others can be made into badges to wear on T-shirts using special safety pins with plastic attachments. Kids have tremendous fun with the creative aspects of this kit and continue to admire and play with their newfound robot companions long after the painting is done.

Nursery Rhyme Elmo

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Nursery Rhyme Elmo
Price $44.99
By GUND
Age
18 mo. +
Top Toy

Words can't convey the delight children display when Nursery Rhyme Elmo starts talking and reciting. Press the button sewn into his foot and he becomes truly animated, his head, body, and mouth moving perfectly in time with the words as he recites well-known nursery rhymes. His voice is delightful, his enthusiasm and excitement palpable, so much so that he seems truly alive. In his hands he holds an attached storybook with playful drawings. His body is plush and super-soft to the touch. Each press of the button elicits a different one of five nursery rhymes - Humpty Dumpty, Hickory Dickory Dock, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Mary Had a Little Lamb. With each one, Elmo inserts his own personal touches, including lighthearted comments and the occasional giggle. Your child will talk back, interact with Elmo, cuddle and stroke his soft fur. When finished, Elmo asks, 'Are you ready for another nursery rhyme?' and if the button isn't pushed again, he says, sweetly, 'Okay, maybe later. Bye-bye!' Nursery Rhyme Elmo is surface-washable and includes 3 replaceable AA batteries.

Ogo Beacher Activity Mat

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Ogo Beacher Activity Mat
Price $49
By Ogosport, LLC
Age
6+
Top Toy

Through their ongoing commitment to developing fine new products like the Ogo Beacher and the Ogo Parker Activity Mats (see below after reading this review), OgoSport continually asserts itself as a prime purveyor of top-notch active play for all ages. Part of the charm of their products resides in the high quality evident at a glance and their distinctive look and feel. Although it can be used almost anywhere, the Ogo Beacher was designed specifically with beach fun in mind. The water-resistant mat displays graphics that include a large octagon divided into 8 triangular, colored wedges and comes with 4 different-colored 'splash balls,' each of which is as light as a puff of air and floats in water. These components offer a broad variety of physical play, from fun, quick-moving games detailed in the instructions (Color Jump, Sand Ski Ball, Hot Block) to many additional games players tend to dream up on the spot. The result is endless, active entertainment for kids and adults, solo or in a group. The set includes an exceptionally durable and attractive beach-friendly tote bag for fun on the go.

Ogo Parker Activity Mat

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Ogo Parker Activity Mat
Price $49
By OgoSport, LLC
Age
6+
Top Toy

With the Ogo Parker Activity Mat, OgoSport has created something fresh and irresistible. The mat's graphics (a colorful, concentrically ringed bull's eye divided into quadrants) are well-suited to a wide variety of games, and the four included ogo bolas (high-performance palm-sized beanbags) are ideal for targeting the mat or tossing, batting, and bouncing between players using just about any body part. The instructions include 3 easy-to-learn, exceptionally fun games adaptable to any number of players, and the mat and ogo bolas inspire many original games as well. The water resistant mat, made of non-slip material, is ideal for any type of outdoor play. Its lightweight components, tote bag (even the included tote bag is high quality, durable, and very attractive), and instant-fun nature make the Ogo Parker Activity Mat a desirable companion to take with you everywhere you go.

OgoBILD with AnimatIt! Studio Kit

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OgoBILD with AnimatIt! Studio Kit
Price $70
By OgoSport, LLC
Age
6+
Best Creative Fun

The strange, fantastical, inter-connectable pieces in OgoBILD construction toys tend, in and of themselves, to inspire new heights of creativity. This kit not only contains 103 of those incredibly versatile building pieces, it also includes Animate It! Express, software that makes making your own stop-motion animation films as easy as 1-2-3. That is about as perfect a set of ingredients for unleashing creative fun as we can imagine. The included camera has a suction base and bendable neck that make it highly pose-able for shooting all kinds of angles. The software could not be easier to use. Set up your scene by training the camera on whatever creatures or gizmos OgoBILD's strange and wonderful building pieces have inspired you to create today. Snap a picture, then manually move something in your scene. Snap another picture, move something by hand again, and so on. When you're ready, click rewind and play, and an animated video is born. Editing, exporting, and publishing your movies is equally simple. With wildly inventive fun like this at your fingertips, inspiration strikes non-stop!

Oriental Culture Discovery

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Oriental Culture Discovery
Price $54.99
By Shepherd Kit, Inc.
Age
3 - 8 yrs.
Brain Child

This is a fine creative and educational kit, both in terms of what children can do and learn with it and its presentation. Its components are at such a high level of quality and arrive so lovingly arranged in their box that the kit seems like one-of-a-kind. Its goal, to introduce ancient oriental/Chinese history to children all over the world, is achieved through a series of remarkable creative activities, the results of which are highly gratifying and long-lasting. Using pre-cut wooden pieces and acrylic paints, kids make beautiful Chest Plate Ornaments that emulate Western Zhou Dynasty Armor. These are affixed to an over-the-shoulders garment (included) that can be worn to proudly display them. Next, kids make their own West Wall Rubbing Art. Using a wooden stamp, one side of which is magnetized, kids arrange magnetic cutouts representing mythical Chinese characters. They then apply ink and stamp those images on reel paper. Once fully decorated, the top and bottom of the paper is attached to wooden reels and becomes a beautiful hanging scroll. The handbook displays step-by-step instructions on each of the above activities and more.

Osmo

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Osmo
Price $79.99
By Tangible Play
Age
6-12 yrs.
Brain Child

Osmo is dazzling, mind-bending fun. Placing your iPad in the Osmo base allows you to play games that integrate your physical space into the digital realm of your iPad. Objects placed in front of your iPad are 'understood' by the three free Osmo game apps - Newton, Tangram, and Words, and become part of the game. In Newton, you'll direct tiny balls that drop from the top of the screen towards targets by drawing lines on a sheet of paper. You'll use Tangram pieces on your tabletop to solve onscreen challenges. Each time you put a piece correctly in place, its onscreen version fills in (except at the hardest levels, where you won't know how well you're doing until the puzzle is finished). Play Word, solo or against others, by looking at onscreen clues and guessing letters one at a time using Osmo letter tiles. The three of these games together evoke a phenomenal interplay of creative and logical thinking in kids, while Osmo's thrilling blended reality leaves them nothing less than enthralled.

Phantoms Thinking Putty

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Phantoms Thinking Putty
Price $14.95
By Crazy Aaron's Puttworld
Age
8+
Top Toy

Once you get your hands on Phantoms Thinking Putty, you may never want to put it down. Each tin contains a whopping handful with several exhilarating properties, some of which border on the magical. The niftiest of these is that any part of the putty exposed to UV light immediately changes color, a fact that opens a whole range of play possibilities. Sunlight is one way to do it, but there is no need to rely on the sun. Each Phantoms Thinking Putty comes with its own blacklight keychain that lets you paint and draw on the putty with light. Hold the blacklight close to the putty to create strong, thin lines, or back it away to create broader, paint-like strokes. Withdraw the light completely and the putty reverts to its natural off-white in about a minute. Phantoms Thinking Putty is also stretchable, bounceable, rippable, kneadable, and moldable - which means you can sculpt and draw or craft several mini-creations at once. Placing objects, cutouts, or transparencies on the putty before UV exposure creates shadow art, and any kind of light causes it to glow in the dark for hours afterward. This world class silicone putty never dries out and is currently available in two new colors - Foxfire and Arctic Flare.

Qetchup Card Game

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Qetchup Card Game
Price $12.99
By WebCracker Inc.
Age
7+
Sterling Fun

In Qetchup Card Game, players race to construct a set of 5 cards that, together, represent a healthy meal. After having been dealt 8 cards apiece, players can take a card from the draw pile and discard one and/or play cards from their hand in a number of ways. The 5 card types needed to form a healthy meal are Veggie, Meat, Fruit, Bread, and Juice. Placing a healthy meal on the table will not, by itself, win you the game - you must also rid your hand of its remaining cards. Meanwhile, other types of cards in the deck make it possible for your opponents to get in your way. For example, a Junk card can be used to ruin your meal. Among other things, a Q card can be used to neutralize a Junk card, restoring your meal to health. The dreaded Restart card (of which there is exactly one in the deck) can be used to force an opponent to discard what's left of his hand and draw another 8 cards - ouch! There are other twists and turns, and Qetchup is good, fast, clean fun that plays well across a broad range of ages.

Real Meteorite Excavation Kit!

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Real Meteorite Excavation Kit!
Price $11.99
By Discover with Dr. Cool
Age
6-12 yrs.
Brain Child

Science kits from Discover with Dr. Cool provide a winning combination - hands-on activities with genuine specimens, an information guide loaded with relevant science facts, and an activity booklet with ten fun, brain-expanding puzzles to solve. This Meteorite Dig Kit contains a Dig Brick to which young, budding scientists will apply the kit's digging tools, unveiling a real meteorite from outer space in the process! In addition to the meteorite, kids uncover a tektite (which they will learn about, along with many other fun facts and photos, in the kit's info-filled Adventure Guide). The included magnifying glass allows close examination of the specimens' details. In addition to the great hands-on learning and fascinating Adventure Guide information, the kit's Activity Booklet provides page after page of meteor-related braniactivity - Word Search, Hidden Pictures, CrossWord, Dot-to-Dot, a Cryptogram, and lots more. First-rate learning fun.

Senseez Pink Heart

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Senseez Pink Heart
Price $39.99
By Senseez Pillows
Age
4+
Brain Child

Senseez Pillows, designed especially for kids, provide sensory stimulation through a vibrating mechanism inside the cushion. Simply squeezing or putting weight on the pillow triggers the vibrations. The gentle sensation is physically and emotionally soothing and helps many children (and quite a few grownups who tried it out) relax into a calm state while mental chatter and external distractions fade away. Some kids initially find the experience entertaining and game-like due to the almost magical pressure-sensitive on/off mechanism and the initial novelty of the sensation. But for many, the pillow quickly becomes a constant, comforting companion. While any child can enjoy a Senseez Pillow, children who have trouble sitting still or concentrating may particularly benefit. The pillows are compact and lightweight, cordless and battery operated, and playfully designed in bright colors and fun shapes. Most of the pillows in the Senseez line have a vinyl exterior for ease of cleaning, but there is one that comes with a furry cover for those who want added sensory stimulation and that extra-snuggly feel.

Silly Sam & Friends Combo

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Silly Sam & Friends Combo
Price $19.99
By KD Kidz Delight
Age
3+
Best Creative Fun

Young kids crave emulating grown-up activities through imaginative play. This talking broom and dustpan provide just the right combination of genuine clean-up functionality and full-out playtime fun to keep kids happily busy for hours at a time. The colorful broom and dustpan are sized just right for little hands, and each has a smiling, happy face and bright, lively eyes affixed to it, making it evident at a glance that these are fun-loving companions with a purpose. When sweeping with Silly Sam, he regularly and cheerfully says things like, 'Oooh, that tickles,' 'You missed a spot,' and 'It's fun to clean up!' Pushing Sam's nose makes him similarly talkative, including sound effects and giggles of delight. Both broom and dustpan are highly durable, and the broom has an adjustable handle so that its length can match the size of the child using it. Silly Sam gets kids talking, moving, and exploring the world with their minds and bodies. Who knew a broom and dustpan could be a child's best playmates?

Skylanders Trap Team

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Skylanders Trap Team
Price $74.99
By Activision Publishing, Inc.
Age
5+
Top Toy

The Skylanders franchise has long been an innovator with respect to mingling physical and digital play, and in so doing creating some of the most visceral and loveable action heroes ever. Skylanders Trap Team, however, marks the first time kids can take characters out of the digital Skylanders world into the physical. By placing a crystal trap in the portal, Portal Masters can pull villains out of the game, capturing them in the physical trap. Once trapped, the villain can be sent back into the game to fight on your behalf, on the side of good. With Skylanders Trap Team, there are over 60 new Skylanders and more than 40 trappable villains. In addition to providing an array of physical crystal traps (one for each element), Skylanders Trap Team and the new Traptanium Portal work with all the Skylander characters from Skylanders Spyro's Adventure, Skylanders Giants, and Skylanders SWAP Force. Now that's awesome good news!

SmartBook

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SmartBook
Price $50
By goDiscover
Age
2-6 yrs.
Brain Child

SmartBook is a highly effective learning tool. Its most prominent characteristic is its interactivity, made possible by the goDiscover Interactive Pen (included), a device that is keyed to words and images on the pages of all 9 of the early learning SmartBooks in the set. These highly attractive, illustrated, full-color books cover colors, numbers, letters, vocabulary, rhymes, and more. Pointing the pen at a word, image, or sentence causes it to be spoken aloud. Just as importantly, the pen is also a recording device that lets kids record their often playful thoughts and reactions to the contents and questions on the pages. Pointing the pen at the Play Me symbol on any page plays back the child's recording specific to that page, turning the exploration of the books into a free-flowing, spontaneous game. That fun, creative quality keeps kids poring over the books repeatedly, experimenting with their own questions and comments. Since repetition and variation are key elements of how the brain learns, SmartBook's design naturally evokes in children behavior that helps them absorb and understand the material while enjoying themselves to the fullest.

SmartMax Mega Ball Run

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SmartMax Mega Ball Run
Price $119.99
By Smart Toys and Games
Age
3+
Best Creative Fun

It is truly amazing, the number of objects and 3-dimensional shapes that can be quickly and easily assembled with SmartMax Mega Ball Run - letters, numbers, animals, geometric shapes, and high-rises, to name a few. Even more impressive are the complex, labyrinth-like structures through which the set's metallic balls will go rolling, following the curves of the plastic tubes and gliding down the long ramp. The design of the magnetic and plastic pieces makes possible inventions that are not only cool to look at, but also have a high level of functionality. With magnetism as the power that holds the constructions together, pieces can be positioned and re-positioned in the blink of an eye. Like other SmartMax sets, everything here is of the highest quality. This 71-piece set includes curved and straight plastic tubes, metal balls, straight and X-shaped magnetic bars, and plastic funnels and panels in a variety of colors. The full-color instruction-guide, loaded with ideas, helps unleash the power of invention made possible by this set's limitless possibilities.

Spot it! Doc McStuffins - Numbers and Shapes

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Spot it! Doc McStuffins - Numbers and Shapes
Price $11.99
By Blue Orange Games
Age
3+
Brain Child

This new version of the unstoppably popular matching game Spot it! is particularly exciting for a number of reasons. It's educational (with a strong focus on numbers and shapes), geared towards players as young as 3 and up, and the images that appear throughout the deck of circular cards were inspired by none other than Doc McStuffins and her stuffed-animal friends. Now that is an irresistible combination! Each card in the 31 card deck displays an assortment of numbers, shapes, and other familiar images from Doc McStuffins' world. Between any two cards there is exactly one matching symbol, and being the first to spot it and call it out is the crux of the game, regardless of which of the 3 mini-games you're playing. In Twins, players try to spot the match between two cards just flipped up on the table so that they can be the one to collect the most pairs. In The Tower, players try to be first to spot the match between their own card and a center pile, once again aiming to collect the most cards. In The Well, the goal is to be the first player to get rid of all your cards by spotting matches between the top of your pile and a center card. It's non-stop, fast moving fun, with all players in on the action from start to finish.

STRIDER Sport 12" No-Pedal Balance Bike

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STRIDER Sport 12" No-Pedal Balance Bike
Price $119
By STRIDER
Age
2-5 yrs.
Top Toy

That a bike this rugged and durable can be so lightweight and navigable is a huge asset to young riders. After all, the purpose of a balance bike is to provide two-wheeled mobility and a wealth of positive riding experiences for kids starting at a very young age. Both the seat and handlebars of this Strider Sport model have Quick Clamps that make it incredibly easy to adjust and secure their height without any tools. This feature ensures a comfortable fit tailored to your child that can grow as they grow. The pedal-less design lets kids put both feet on the ground while straddling the bike. They propel themselves forward by walking or running, and can glide at will by lifting their feet off the ground. This approach builds balance and confidence, making the gradual transition to a pedal bike as easy and natural as can be. STRIDER Sport No-Pedal Balance Bike is as handsome in appearance as it is rich in features, inspiring in kids a boundless enthusiasm to be out and about, active, every day. Available in several colors.

Tablet Master

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Tablet Master
Price $59.99
By Lexibook
Age
6+
Brain Child

This touch-screen Android Tablet for kids provides everything you could hope for in terms of content, ease of navigation, and powerful parental controls. It comes preloaded with dozens of entertainment, educational, and multimedia activities and services - a full $90.00 worth - and access to plenty more. A parent-created password lets users go back and forth between Lexibook and Android interfaces, and different users can set their own avatars and onscreen customization, making this a tablet the whole family can enjoy. With Wi-Fi and internet access, the parental controls are so effective and simple to use that with just a few settings Mom and Dad can rest assured kids will only be viewing age-appropriate content. With 7-inch touch screen, easy navigation, photo and video editing, and an array of cartoons, games, and creative and educational activities, Lexibook Tablet Master 3 puts a world of knowledge at your children's fingertips.

The Selfie Game

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The Selfie Game
Price $14.95
By USAopoly
Age
13+
Laugh Out Loud

The way the Selfie Game merges tabletop play with current technology and social trends makes it instantly attractive to teens and young adults. What makes it an outstanding party game is the way it gets a room full of people roaring with laughter. Each player, in turn, chooses a Caption Card and makes a facial expression that represents the caption on the card while snapping a selfie. For example, the card might say ' You've been bitten by a zombie and are turning into one,' or 'A stranger coughed in your face.' There are 360 of these cards, and a huge part of the game's hilarity stems from just how effective they are at eliciting uninhibited silliness from players. Once the selfie's been taken (if no devices are handy, the player just poses within the game's Selfie Frame), the other players choose a caption card from their own hand that best describes that expression. These are read aloud, and the favorite, chosen by that rounds' selfie-taker, earns a point. Fast-moving, outrageous, highly social fun for 4 or more players.

The World of Eric Carle Learning Table and Chair

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The World of Eric Carle Learning Table and Chair
Price $49.99
By Creative Baby, Inc.
Age
3+
Brain Child

Experiencing this table and chair set is like stepping into the wonders of a children's storybook. Compact and very pleasing to the eye, it comes with two interchangeable tabletops, both of which feature The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other familiar friends from Eric Carle's ever-popular books. There is a lot to visually stimulate young minds - letters, numbers, words, animals, sets of fruit, and plenty more. In addition to being a place to sit, draw, create, and learn, there's an almost magical functionality that springs to life when you bring out the Voice Pen (sold separately) and touch it to images on the tabletops. It names the animals and makes their sounds, plays the keyboard-like midsection of a caterpillar one note at a time, identifies colors, numbers, and letters. It even provides fun facts and little lessons, recites poems, performs songs. Four highly interactive educational games in which the Voice Pen poses questions that the child answers by pointing to the items on the tabletops are particularly fun and exciting.

Tiggly Counts

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Tiggly Counts
Price $29.95
By Kidtellect, Inc.
Age
3-6yrs.
Brain Child

Tiggly Counts brilliantly combines physical and digital play. It's an iPad math toy for children age 3 and up. It consists of five unique, colorful counting rods and comes with three free learning apps. Kids interact with the apps by placing the counting rods on the iPad screen. Each counting rod has a given color and numeric value - 1 through 5 - represented by the number of ovals cut into its length. With Tiggly Chef, the app we tried out, kids learn numbers, counting, and early addition concepts by helping a jovial mustachioed chef (with a pleasant French accent) prepare dishes with silly names like Blunderbusting Monkey Cake. By following Chef's directions, kids are introduced to math symbols and concepts as they add required quantities of various ingredients to the pan by placing combinations of counting rods on the screen. Children find the the vividly playful graphics and interactivity of the app highly engaging. The physical element brought about by the counting rods greatly enhances that connection - and the learning that comes with it.

Toobalink Starter Kit

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Toobalink Starter Kit
Price $34.99
By Metre Ideas and Design
Age
5+
Sterling Fun

Toobalink Starter Kit is designed to be used creatively in conjunction with cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet tissues, many millions of which are thrown away each and every day. The set includes everything children need to start building right away - 9 heavy-duty cardboard tubes and 30 plastic building pieces uniquely designed to connect with one another and with those cardboard tubes. The plastic pieces (some of which have foam wraparounds so that they fit snugly into cardboard tubes) interconnect firmly in numerous ways and disconnect easily, making it simple to explore ideas and change directions as inspiration strikes. The instructions show how to build a sword, a dog, and a tepee frame using those included contents, just a small sampling of what can be done. Kids are encouraged to save cardboard tubes and use them to build rather than throwing them out, and by so doing dramatically expand both the variety and magnitude of constructions made possible by Toobalink.

Under the Sea i-Mat

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Under the Sea i-Mat
Price $29.99
By Creative Baby, Inc.
Age
3+
Brain Child

With features and benefits that grow along with your baby, this play mat functions beautifully on two significant levels. From a physical standpoint, it provides young kids with invaluable tactile and visual stimulation. The comfy foam mat is loaded with playful images of undersea plants and creatures, each expressively detailed in its own inviting way. The mat is large enough (4 ft. X 4 ft.) to make a sizeable adventure for a little one, yet breaks down into four separate squares for easy storage and portable play. And then there's the hand-held Voice Pen (sold separately), which turns the mat into a highly interactive play and learning environment. Point it at any of the dozens of objects on the mat to receive a multitude of fun mini-lessons. For example, point it at King Crab and the Voice Pen says, 'The King Crab is raising his arms up high. Can you raise your arms up high?' followed by dramatic music as soundtrack to your child's own arm-raising effort, and then, 'Good job!' There are also two highly interactive educational games in which the Voice Pen prompts kids to answer by way of pointing at images on the mat.

Wikki Stix One-of-A-Kind Designer Piggy Bank

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Wikki Stix One-of-A-Kind Designer Piggy Bank
Price $24.95
By Omnicor, Inc.
Age
5+
Best Creative Fun

This is the way a Piggy Bank should look. It's stout, hearty, pinkish, made of high-quality ceramic, and it's actually a pig, a smiling one at that! So, even before you set about decorating it with the included assortment of 72 colored Wikki Stix, this happy fellow makes a playful, attractive addition to any home. But once the creativity kicks off and the Wikki Stix start to be applied, playtime fun catapults to a whole new level. Wikki Stix are made of hand-knitting yarn enhanced with non-toxic food-grade wax, the kind used in bubble gum and lipstick. They're each about six inches long, highly malleable, come in a variety of colors, and stick to almost any smooth surface using just a little finger pressure. The Piggy Bank provides the perfect canvas, and the Wikki Stix become the artistic medium children apply to great effect, making all kinds of colorful designs and nuances. They hold securely to the surface, and yet can be easily removed and repositioned, allowing whimsy and mood to guide kids to change the look of their Piggy Bank over time.

World's Best Geode Kit!

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World's Best Geode Kit!
Price $49.95
By Discover with Dr. Cool
Age
6-12 yrs.
Brain Child

The exterior of a geode, mysterious and ancient-looking, barely hints at the beauty that awaits when you break one open and see the crystal formations hidden inside. This kit from Discover with Dr. Cool includes a dazzling assortment of 15 superior quality geodes for kids to explore. The instructions reveal several methods for cracking them open as well as safety goggles to wear while doing so. The included Adventure Guide provides fascinating information on things like the size, makeup, and types of Geodes, how they are formed from volcanic and sedimentary rock, and the locations of geode hotspots around the world. It's also filled with gorgeous geode photographs. The kit's Activity Booklet includes page after page of geode-related puzzles. These, along with the abundance of hands-on geode exploration provided, will have kids bristling with the excitement and adventure of their newfound knowledge.

YOXObot Orig

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YOXObot Orig
Price $19.99
By Play from Scratch
Age
6+
Best Creative Fun

Every once in a while a product or manufacturer comes along that immediately stands out from the crowd. The YOXO (pronounced 'yock-so') line of recyclable constructions sets from manufacturer Play from Scratch does precisely that. YOXO building sets use notched pieces, Y's, O's, and X's, that connect snugly with one another and, more importantly, to lots of stuff you'll find around the house - cardboard boxes, toilet paper tubes, paper towel rolls, notebook covers, playing cards, and lots more. YOXObot Orig is an 18-inch tall robot kit. One of the most startling things about it is just how cool and distinctly different the completed robot looks from anything you've likely seen before. The illustrated instructions are easy to follow, but will no doubt be just a leap-off point for the array of creations that can spring from young minds once they get a taste of what YOXO can do. That kids can easily incorporate found items into their YOXO constructions is a feature that inspires true invention and creativity. YOXO kits are made from recycled materials.

YOXObug Flye

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YOXObug Flye
Price $24.99
By Play from Scratch
Age
7+
Best Creative Fun

YOXObug Flye, one of the new products in the line of eco-friendly construction toys from Play from Scratch, manages to look both prehistoric and futuristic at the same time. The futuristic aspect is due in part to the uniqueness manufacturer Play from Scratch brings to each of its construction toys. They look unlike anything you've seen before. The prehistoric part is because, well, it's a giant, three-foot long dragonfly! YOXObot Flye uses notched Y's, O's, and X's that connect snugly not only with one another, but also to lots of recyclable stuff you can find around your house. Cereal boxes, paper towel tubes, and pretty much anything made out of paper or cardboard is fair game. Putting together YOXObug is exciting fun, and once kids get a taste of what YOXO can do, they tend to launch into making their own inventions. The fact that incorporating found items into those creations is part of the product's design elevates both creative inspiration and opportunities to new levels. YOXO kits are made from recycled materials.

Zoku Slush & Shake Maker

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Zoku Slush & Shake Maker
Price $19.99
By Zoku
Age
3+
Top Toy

This Slush and Shake Maker from Zoku works like a charm. And it's so simple, too. It makes delicious, refreshing slushies and milk shakes in a matter of minutes, without electricity. Just keep the Slush and Shake Maker's inner core (the primary cup that will hold your drink) in the freezer until you're ready to use it. Then place it inside the outer sleeve (which keeps your hands from getting cold) before pouring the chilled beverage of your choice into it. Fruit juice, blended juice, sweetened coffee, soda, eggnog, energy drinks, chocolate or malted milk - the possibilities are limited only by your imagination. The temperature of the liquid drops very rapidly, causing ice crystals to form. Scrape the walls of the cup with the specially designed Slush Spoon periodically over the next several minutes and stir to mix the ice shavings into the beverage. The result is a thoroughly delicious chilled treat, a slush-filled flavor-fest. Your taste buds will thank you.

Fall 2014 Tillywig Award Winners

Music & Audio

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Disney Frozen Cool Tunes Headphones

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Disney Frozen Cool Tunes Headphones
Price $19.99
By eKids
Age
3+
Sterling Fun

Kids and parents both will love these headphones designed especially for girls. Featuring eye-catching graphics inspired by the movie Frozen (including images of Elsa and Anna on the outside of the left and right earpieces), these colorful, stylish headphones plug into any audio device and provide high quality sound. The earpieces are padded and the headband adjustable for maximum comfort, so that they feel as good as they look. Parents appreciate that the product has a built-in volume limiter to protect their children's hearing. Girls love the way they look with the headphones on and the crystal clear audio they hear, whether dancing in front of the mirror, singing along with their favorite tunes, or sitting quietly listening to calming music before bedtime. Great musical fun!

Disney Frozen Cool Tunes Sing-along Boombox

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Disney Frozen Cool Tunes Sing-along Boombox
Price $29.99
By eKids
Age
3+
Top Toy

With a design and decor inspired by the hit movie, Frozen, this stylish boombox-with-microphone is something any princess would be proud to call her own. Not only does it play internal prerecorded Frozen songs at the touch of a button, it connects to smartphones, MP3 players, and other audio devices to let kids play their favorite tunes over the boombox speaker. The attached handheld microphone turns any tune into an instant sing-along. Just press a button on the mic while singing to hear your words broadcast along with the music. The built-in songs include 'Let It Go,' 'In Summer,' and 'For the First Time in Forever.' The colorful boombox includes gem-like buttons for selecting and playing songs, a necklace-like handle, and bears an image of Elsa and Anna front and center. It also speaks fun phrases from the movie and has a compartment in the back for carrying your MP3 player. Requires 3 AA batteries (included).

Disney Frozen Magical MP3 Microphone

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Disney Frozen Magical MP3 Microphone
Price $12.99
By eKids
Age
3+
Best Creative Fun

Children of all ages can showcase their sing-a-long talents with this Disney Frozen Magical MP3 Microphone. Sized and shaped like a regular hand-held microphone, it comes decorated with eye-catching graphics inspired by the movie Frozen (including images of Elsa and Anna). In addition to being a functioning microphone through which kids can hear their own voice, it also provides accompanying music in two different ways. Depending on the mode selected (a simple switch), the microphone will either play its own built-in songs or play those from any MP3 device to which it is connected. The microphone has an internal speaker that pipes all these great sounds into the air while built-in lights flash, adding dramatic effect to these musical moments. Whether listening to their favorite tunes or belting out their own songs to the accompanying music, kids can put some magic in the air with Disney Frozen Magical MP3 Microphone. Requires 2 AAA batteries (included).

Love Songs For My Baby

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Love Songs For My Baby
Price $10
By Kaleidoscope Songs, LLC
Age
0-3 yrs.
Best Family Fun

Love Songs For My Baby is both an expression of singer/songwriter Alex Mitnick's love for his family and a record of the moments leading up to and following the birth of his son, Miles. The songs skillfully and tunefully capture the preciousness and joy of those life-changing events. The album opens strongly with Oh My My, a cheerful, energetic single whose catchy rhythms and melodies make a fine vehicle for Mitnick's vocals and guitar-work and whose lyrics convey his sense of wonder at being an expectant father. Another favorite, Love is All it Takes, is a jaunty, calypso-flavored tune in which Mitnick marvels at every aspect of his newborn son's existence, particularly the way it fills his heart to brimming. The carefully crafted arrangements are rich and varied, with a pop sensibility and world music feel that make them both singable and memorable. Parents will be grateful for this music, and for the joy that playing and singing it to their own children brings into their home.

Nightlight Daylight

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Nightlight Daylight
Price $35
By CGD Music
Age
0 - 5 yrs.
Brain Child

We can't say enough good things about this unique double album. A number of well-known, world class musicians are featured, but the dominant force is Muriel Anderson's gorgeous guitar-work. The first of the two included CDs, Nighlight, consists of 14 songs with which to relax or drift off to sleep. All are lovely. Prayer Without Ceasing is particularly pretty, and Dandelion, a solo-guitar piece, has the sort of plaintive beauty that evokes in adults a fond recollection of their own childhood. The instrumental/acoustic feel of the first disc carries over to the second - Daylight - the tone and rhythms of which are more attuned to daytime's pulse. It kicks off with a fresh-sounding version of Here Comes The Sun, one of the set's few non-originals. Despite the higher energy, there is nothing raucous here. Ms. Anderson is as exceptional a songwriter as she is a guitarist, and her classical training shows in the unusual range and finesse she brings to her writing and playing. There are 30 songs on this two-disc set, which comes in as lovely and high-quality a CD packaging as you could hope to find, one that includes interactive, lighted, cover art.

Sassafrass Jones and the Search for a Forever Home

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Sassafrass Jones and the Search for a Forever Home
Price $24.99
By Luxury Kitten
Age
6+
Top Toy

Kids and parents alike will be delighted by this tale of an orphaned Pekingese dog with a delicate eye condition and a lonely milliner mouse who pair up to pursue their dreams. Destined to be a classic, this hard cover children's book bristles with imagination and entertainment. Everything about it, from its outsize pages filled with more than 50 full-color images to its captivating storyline and cast of colorful characters, bespeaks the presence of something special. Each beautifully detailed image consists of vintage Steiff animals and miniatures and is a story unto itself, so much so that even pre-readers will spend hours lingering over the pages. Filled with nuance and humor, this book transports readers to a world so fully realized as to hold them in a state of wonder. Each book comes with an audio book CD narrated by Fred Schneider of The B52s. Written by Cathleen Smith Bresciani and Richard L. Eldredge. Photographs by Tomas Espinoza with sets created by Christopher J. McClellan. Proceeds go to benefit Canine Companions for Independence and The Humane Society of New York, among others both nationally and locally.

Sea Songs - A Celebration of Sea Creatures

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Sea Songs - A Celebration of Sea Creatures
Price $12
By Songwaves
Age
3 - 12 yrs.
Brain Child

The magic of the sea and the creatures who dwell there are on display in the twelve tunes that make up the Sea Songs CD. Kids find the lilting melodies and shifting textures of these songs captivating, the lyrics and rhymes playful and satisfying. A lyric book, available as a free download from the website, makes it easy for kids to sing-along. Songs like Herd of Turtles, The Octopus Waltz, and If You See a Manatee, instantly capture the imagination. Singer/songwriter Suzanne Niles has a knack for portraying through song a world children love immersing themselves in, one that's full of magic and variety. The fact that these creatures we're hearing about really exist makes them all the more exciting and stimulating for children. Ms. Niles' lyrics have such a unique rhythm and feel that children even enjoy reading them sans music (or having their parents read them aloud) like the fabulous little stories they are.

Fall 2014 Tillywig Award Winners

Books & Magazines

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Because I Stubbed My Toe

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Because I Stubbed My Toe
Price $14.95
By Capstone Young Readers
Age
5-7 yrs.
Laugh Out Loud

Kids delight in this story of a boy who stubs his toe and sets off a sequence of events that grow sillier with each passing moment. A string of animals (a dog, cat, bees, ducks displaced by an old man throwing himself into a pond, a herd of elephants) play key parts in the escalating chain of effect. Man-made objects perpetuate the action as well - a bike with rider gone astray, a teeter-totter that catapults a boy high in the air, a bouncy-house whose collapse disgorges a stream of kids blindly headed towards the zoo, and last but not least, a barrage of flying ice cream treats. The full-page illustrations are the real stars of this hardcover book, each one telling its own zany story rendered to great comic effect. The cumulative impact of the book's images and text is dramatic and contagious, which is to say that readers experience a very high ratio of giggles and laughs per minute.

Gizzo's Adventure to Booyville Island

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Gizzo's Adventure to Booyville Island
Price $7.99
By Global-Vision Brands
Age
3-6 yrs.
Sterling Fun

This sweet, vividly illustrated story is filled with fully-imagined creatures with inspired names - Jilla Birds, Quibblefish, Cranny Bugs, and, of course, the adorable Cutie Boos. They all can be found on or around Booyville Island in the Optula Sea, where a magical tree produces a golden berry that can make your wish come true. When a young Jilla Bird named Gizzo desperately wants to learn to fly but is at his wits' end, it's Cutie Boos to the rescue! The gang pulls Gizzo up the mountain in a sling (after trying to shoot him up there in a giant slingshot) and then the hunt is on for the Golden Goola Berry. Unfortunately, the not very nice Maloo Boo is interfering and trying to steal Gizzo's wish. He almost succeeds, too, but Gizzo dives off a cliff to get his berry back and learns to fly in the nick of time. The Cutie Boos (Pookie Boo, Wurly Boo, and Buckaroo, to name a few) are bright, cheerful creatures who naturally like to lend a hand, and the message here is that anything is possible when you believe in yourself.

Here I Am

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Here I Am
Price $14.95
By Capstone Young Readers
Age
5-10 yrs.
Brain Child

Here I Am is a marvelous collaboration between Patti Kim, its author, and Sonia Sanchez, the artist. This hardcover book contains no text. Through images alone it tells a story deeply expressive of the complex and varied emotions experienced by a young boy displaced by his family's move to a new and distant land. Everything is different - the people, language, buildings, food - and his feelings of isolation, sadness, and anger are intricately conveyed by the gorgeous, vivid pictures that grace the book's pages. The boy takes comfort in a seed he has brought with him from his homeland. Ironically, it is the loss of this seed that spurs him to venture forth and explore his new world. He meets people, experiences things up close instead of keeping everything at a distance. The result is a transition towards acceptance and enjoyment of this place he did not choose. Experiencing frequent, inevitable change is a natural part of growing up. The truth and beauty expressed in this book provide a touchstone, filled with emotional intelligence, that readers can use to help them navigate the changes in their own young lives.

I Love You So. . . Personalized Book

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I Love You So. . . Personalized Book
Price $24.99
By Sourcebooks - Put Me In The Story
Age
2-8 yrs.
Best Family Fun

Having this hardcover book personalized so that your child's name and photo appear throughout its pages is a lovely concept, and one that children particularly delight in. What makes it work so well in this case is how beautifully 'I Love You So . . . ' expresses the unconditional love parents feel for their children. The distinctive illustrations are especially appealing, the rich colors and imagery conveying a warmth that parallels the feelings so charmingly expressed by the book's reassuring words. Everything is of the highest quality - the hardbound cover, the printing, the paper, the story and artwork. It's a book parents would read to their child again and again even if it hadn't been customized. The fact that it can be is a wonderful added benefit. Parents can also include a special message to their child on the dedication page.

Little Monkey Calms Down

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Little Monkey Calms Down
Price $7.99
By Capstone Young Readers
Age
2-4 yrs.
Top Toy

Self-soothing is one of the most valuable things a child can learn. Little Monkey Calms Down has a bold, humorous style that captivates readers from the very first page and makes it easy for them to absorb this lesson. Little Monkey's response to dropping his ice cream on the floor is one that kids can easily relate to. His brief, sad-eyed expression is followed by a meltdown of epic proportions (wailing, flailing, fists beating the floor) depicted through images and text that manage to be both hilarious and sympathetic. It's natural, and perfectly fine to have feelings, and the story wisely conveys this. But after experiencing those intense feelings, Little Monkey does a number of things to calm himself down. He cuddles with his blankie. He takes a nice, deep breath. He sings himself a little song. He relaxes and begins to enjoy himself again. Every page of this book is a pleasure to behold - each line of text, the boldly colored backgrounds, and especially, the wonderfully varied illustrations that show Little Monkey nurturing himself back into a state of contentment.

My Awesome Book

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My Awesome Book
Price $39.99
By Lulu Jr.
Age
6+
Best Creative Fun

This is a delightful concept, one that encourages children to tap into their creativity and story-telling abilities by making their own book. The end result, a professionally printed hardcover version of the child's creation, is highly empowering, teaching kids that the path to big results is a matter of taking concrete steps. My Awesome Book! is very accessible, starting with its unusually appealing packaging. Inside, the equally inviting Quick Start Guide is just a few pages long and immediately moves young authors into the 'doing' phase of creativity, where inspiration thrives. Kids can do the entire book by hand - cover art and page-by-page illustrations and text - using the 20 book pages, 2 cover pages, and 10 washable markers included in the kit. Or they can design and create the book online at the manufacturer's website, using drawing tools, templates, backgrounds, and stickers to illustrate and write their story. A postage-paid envelope is included for submitting projects done by hand. Following completed submission, books are typically printed in a couple of weeks and delivered within 3 to 5 business days thereafter.

Sassafrass Jones and the Search for a Forever Home

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Sassafrass Jones and the Search for a Forever Home
Price $24.99
By Luxury Kitten
Age
6+
Top Toy

Kids and parents alike will be delighted by this tale of an orphaned Pekingese dog with a delicate eye condition and a lonely milliner mouse who pair up to pursue their dreams. Destined to be a classic, this hard cover children's book bristles with imagination and entertainment. Everything about it, from its outsize pages filled with more than 50 full-color images to its captivating storyline and cast of colorful characters, bespeaks the presence of something special. Each beautifully detailed image consists of vintage Steiff animals and miniatures and is a story unto itself, so much so that even pre-readers will spend hours lingering over the pages. Filled with nuance and humor, this book transports readers to a world so fully realized as to hold them in a state of wonder. Each book comes with an audio book CD narrated by Fred Schneider of The B52s. Written by Cathleen Smith Bresciani and Richard L. Eldredge. Photographs by Tomas Espinoza with sets created by Christopher J. McClellan. Proceeds go to benefit Canine Companions for Independence and The Humane Society of New York, among others both nationally and locally.

The Principles of Our World - Compassion

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The Principles of Our World - Compassion
Price $9.99
By Harvest Time Partners, Inc.
Age
4-10 yrs.
Brain Child

It is not easy to teach principles to children in a way they can truly absorb. This book does just that. The author, David Esposito, takes us into real-life moments during which it may prove especially challenging to feel compassion for one another. A boy, tired and frustrated, finds compassion for his younger brother whose fear of thunderstorms is keeping them both awake at night. A girl chooses to befriend a new student at school even though doing so will disrupt her own fun. What makes these and the book's other stories so effective is that the characters' compassion for one another is not immediate. Like many of us, their initial reaction to a difficult situation is reluctance and self-concern. But instead of acting out that frustration, the character pauses a moment to work through the conflict internally, finding a place of wisdom and compassion before speaking. Through witnessing that process, and the positive interactions that follow, the reader internalizes that compassionate voice. These illustrated stories are engrossing, well-written, and highly effective. With them, Mr. Esposito has given our children a wonderful gift.

The Principles of Our World - Honesty

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The Principles of Our World - Honesty
Price $9.99
By Harvest Time Partners, Inc.
Age
4-10 yrs.
Brain Child

The author David Esposito brings a lot to the table with this installment in a series of books that teach children the meaning and value of specific principles. This particular book deals with the principle of honesty. When the truth has consequences we may not like, dishonesty is always an option. Mr. Esposito does a remarkable job of clearly communicating, in a way children can absorb, the value of telling the truth even when there appears to be a short-term cost to doing so. Using stories and characters that depict real-life situations centered on home, work, and school, he helps children embrace that internal struggle as natural and to see the benefits of choosing honesty as a way of life. Parents and educators will be grateful to have this book to provide guidance to children in an area so essential to their ongoing quality of life.

The Principles of Our World - Sacrifice

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The Principles of Our World - Sacrifice
Price $9.99
By Harvest Time Partners, Inc.
Age
4-10 yrs.
Brain Child

David Esposito has done a huge service to parents, educators, and children by creating The Principles of Our World series of books. In this installment kids learn the principle of sacrifice, and like the other books in the series, this one uses several stories and characters to which the young reader can easily relate to demonstrate the principle at hand. Readers are provided with a window into the internal struggles many of us encounter almost daily. More importantly, the book provides a voice of wisdom, compassion, and clarity readers can internalize and use in their own decision-making. While the books are written and illustrated in a manner highly accessible to 4- to 10-year-olds, the author never talks down to them. In addition to teaching fundamental principles for making positive life choices, the books convey that we all have a choice in difficult moments. Rather than acting on our first impulse, we can practice taking a moment to reflect before reacting. Such lessons can have a huge beneficial impact on our relationships and quality of life.

The Principles of Our World - Teamwork

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The Principles of Our World - Teamwork
Price $9.99
By Harvest Time Partners, Inc.
Age
4-10 yrs.
Brain Child

As do each of the other books in The Principles of Our World series, this one contains a collection of stories that exemplify a particular principle, in this case the principle of teamwork. Each of the stories provides a different context (home, school, work, parents), and relatable characters in real-life situations. This approach, consistent throughout the series, makes it easy for young readers to see themselves in the stories. In addition to real-life characters (siblings, parents, etc.), each story contains one character who embodies the principal at hand. This character shows up at key moments and functions almost like a coach, providing the boy, girl, or parent currently stuck in a moment of struggle with the voice of wisdom, patience, and clarity. That voice is one that young readers can easily internalize, and in so doing learn to guide themselves with wisdom when confronted with challenging situations. Readers learn that they always have a choice, that rather than blindly reacting from emotion they can use what they have learned in The Principles of Our World books to help them achieve positive outcomes.

Fall 2014 Tillywig Award Winners

Websites, Video & DVD

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The Boy Who Cried Wolf - Another Sommer-Time Adventure DVD Series

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The Boy Who Cried Wolf - Another Sommer-Time Adventure DVD Series
Price $9.95
By Advance Publishing
Age
4-7 yrs.
Brain Child

There's something utterly refreshing about the way Carl Sommer interacts with children throughout this DVD. As we watch the tale unfold onscreen, the video cuts away regularly to show him elaborating on the story and its implications with a group of kids to whom he is reading the story. Their questions and his answers are sincere, enthusiastic, and insightful. The combination of his warm, expert narration and those live interactions contains the human element so integral to storytelling and so often missing in video. This retelling of Aesop's classic fable, and especially Mr. Sommer's observations, help children understand the importance of honesty and the impact of their behavior on others. Each Sommer-Time Adventure DVD contains realistic sound effects during the story's visuals, a song from Karacter Kidz, and thoughts for parents and teachers from Mr. Sommer.

Fall 2014 Tillywig Award Winners

Mobile Apps

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7D Mine Train

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7D Mine Train
Price $0
By Disney Publishing Worldwide
Age
6-8 yrs.
Top Toy

The hilarious graphics and genuinely funny humor that pervade this app from start to finish are part of what make it so ridiculously enjoyable - that and the high-speed game-play. Each time through the mine, the dwarf of your choice (each of whom has his own wacky vehicle) goes rollicking along the rickety tracks, through loops and over gaps, picking up valuable treasure and avoiding obstacles along the way. With a keen eye and well-honed reflexes, kids will pick up enough points to buy all kinds of awesome stuff in the store - things like gloom repellant, extra life, a head start, more elaborate vehicles. Some of the funniest moments occur in the introductions each dwarf is given. During these animated close-ups, a baritone voice-over reels off a series of good, clean, one-liners (worthy of a world-class comic) that raise the mirth-meter to levels rarely seen in a children's app. There are also in-app purchases available with which to enhance the game-play. With 7D Mine Train, kids tap, swipe, tilt, shake, and laugh their way to the time of their lives.

Disney Story Central

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Disney Story Central
Price $0
By Disney Publishing Worldwide
Age
0 - 5 yrs.
Brain Child

Disney Story Central is a reading wonderland that provides access to more than 100 books and stories containing beloved Disney characters. It has a look and feel children find utterly captivating, and awards kids with stars and trophies as they read. Books are browsed by scrolling up and down or swiping left or right. You can even browse by Disney character. Books are unlocked using tokens (1 per book) after which they remain on your book shelf indefinitely. And each book can be previewed without spending any tokens. The app itself is free, and 4 tokens are earned just by setting up your account. After that, tokens can be purchased individually or in value bundles. Each book offers Read by Myself or Read to Me mode (in which each word is highlighted as it is read aloud by the app). Adding multiple readers to your account is free and lets each child select his or her own onscreen Disney character avatar as well as have their reading accomplishments tracked separately. When reading is this much fun, kids can't get enough of it. That hunger is one of many gifts Disney Story Central bestows upon young readers.

Looney Tunes ClickN Read Phonics

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Looney Tunes ClickN Read Phonics
Price $0
By CNK Digital
Age
4+
Brain Child

This kid-friendly educational app provides 100 great phonics lessons for kindergarten through 3rd grade, creating a clear-cut path to reading success. The presence of beloved Looney Tunes characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Taz, Tweety, and others creates a mix of entertainment and interactive lessons that keeps kids focused, engaged, and coming back for more. The app is downloadable free and includes free sample lessons. Full access is available by subscription. Easy to access progress and usage reports make tracking the child's activity simple, and the program aligns with core language curriculum. Customizable lesson structure and entertainment content allow the program to be tailored to the individual, while ease-of-use and portability make learning anytime, anywhere an instant reality. Professor Wizbot, the onscreen instructor, displays qualities we all would hope for in a teacher - friendliness, patience, enthusiasm, and a penchant for providing encouragement. For iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch, and iPad (requires iOS 4.0 or later).

Osmo

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Osmo
Price $79.99
By Tangible Play
Age
6-12 yrs.
Brain Child

Osmo is dazzling, mind-bending fun. Placing your iPad in the Osmo base allows you to play games that integrate your physical space into the digital realm of your iPad. Objects placed in front of your iPad are 'understood' by the three free Osmo game apps - Newton, Tangram, and Words, and become part of the game. In Newton, you'll direct tiny balls that drop from the top of the screen towards targets by drawing lines on a sheet of paper. You'll use Tangram pieces on your tabletop to solve onscreen challenges. Each time you put a piece correctly in place, its onscreen version fills in (except at the hardest levels, where you won't know how well you're doing until the puzzle is finished). Play Word, solo or against others, by looking at onscreen clues and guessing letters one at a time using Osmo letter tiles. The three of these games together evoke a phenomenal interplay of creative and logical thinking in kids, while Osmo's thrilling blended reality leaves them nothing less than enthralled.

Squish: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

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Squish: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Price $2.99
By Disney Publishing Worldwide
Age
0-5 yrs.
Best Creative Fun

Squish is a wildly creative app, both in terms of the unusual tools it puts at your disposal and the incredible results kids are able to get with them. Start by choosing a color and 3D clay shape with which to work. It could be a Mickey or Minnie shape, a sphere, a block. There are dozens more you can add to the mix - food, musical instruments, sports equipment, even silly-looking body parts. You can then choose from an array of tools that let you dent, sculpt, stretch, add bumps, even make portions magically disappear. While doing so, rotate your 3D sculpture to get at every nook and cranny. Take pictures to preserve in the app's photo gallery. When you're finished, choose from a variety of Squishers that do wild and wonderful things to your creations. These crazily fun gizmos let you twist, inflate, melt your sculptures, even break them into progressively smaller pieces with each tap of the screen. The tools and features are so intuitive and easy-to-use that even very young children have the time of their lives.

Star Wars Scene Maker

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Star Wars Scene Maker
Price $0
By Disney Publishing Worldwide
Age
9+
Best Creative Fun

This bountiful bit of filmmaking fun lets users create detailed Star Wars scenes using onscreen animated characters. Choose which Star Wars characters and vehicles you want in the scene (Han Solo, C-3PO, an Ewok, among others) and where you want them placed at the start of the scene. Decide what weapons they should have, what special moves you'd like them to execute. Add dialog, soundtrack, set up the camera angles, an opening title crawl, end credits. Do as much or as little as you like setting things up, then shoot your scene. It's exhilarating! And once you become familiar with the easy-to-master tools, it's quite remarkable what you can do. Shoot high-octane actions scenes. Veer into comedy by taking unexpected, hilarious turns. Romance, anyone? The app's capabilities are extensive, and it's free, with in-app purchases available. Each 3D animated scene can be saved and shared over and over with friends - an extravaganza of fun.

Tiggly Counts

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Tiggly Counts
Price $29.95
By Kidtellect, Inc.
Age
3-6 yrs.
Brain Child

Tiggly Counts brilliantly combines physical and digital play. It's an iPad math toy for children age 3 and up. It consists of five unique, colorful counting rods and comes with three free learning apps. Kids interact with the apps by placing the counting rods on the iPad screen. Each counting rod has a given color and numeric value - 1 through 5 - represented by the number of ovals cut into its length. With Tiggly Chef, the app we tried out, kids learn numbers, counting, and early addition concepts by helping a jovial mustachioed chef (with a pleasant French accent) prepare dishes with silly names like Blunderbusting Monkey Cake. By following Chef's directions, kids are introduced to math symbols and concepts as they add required quantities of various ingredients to the pan by placing various combinations of counting rods on the screen. Children find the the vividly playful graphics and interactivity of the app highly engaging. The physical element brought about by the counting rods greatly enhances that connection - and the learning that comes with it.

Fall 2014 Tillywig Award Winners

Health & Safety

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Senseez Pink Heart

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Senseez Pink Heart
Price $39.99
By Senseez Pillows
Age
4+
Brain Child

Senseez Pillows, designed especially for kids, provide sensory stimulation through a vibrating mechanism inside the cushion. Simply squeezing or putting weight on the pillow triggers the vibrations. The gentle sensation is physically and emotionally soothing and helps many children (and quite a few grownups who tried it out) relax into a calm state while mental chatter and external distractions fade away. Some kids initially find the experience entertaining and game-like due to the almost magical pressure-sensitive on/off mechanism and the initial novelty of the sensation. But for many, the pillow quickly becomes a constant, comforting companion. While any child can enjoy a Senseez Pillow, children who have trouble sitting still or concentrating may particularly benefit. The pillows are compact and lightweight, cordless and battery operated, and playfully designed in bright colors and fun shapes. Most of the pillows in the Senseez line have a vinyl exterior for ease of cleaning, but there is one that comes with a furry cover for those who want added sensory stimulation and that extra-snuggly feel.

The Principles of Our World - Compassion

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The Principles of Our World - Compassion
Price $9.99
By Harvest Time Partners, Inc.
Age
4-10 yrs.
Brain Child

It is not easy to teach principles to children in a way they can truly absorb. This book does just that. The author, David Esposito, takes us into real-life moments during which it may prove especially challenging to feel compassion for one another. A boy, tired and frustrated, finds compassion for his younger brother whose fear of thunderstorms is keeping them both awake at night. A girl chooses to befriend a new student at school even though doing so will disrupt her own fun. What makes these and the book's other stories so effective is that the characters' compassion for one another is not immediate. Like many of us, their initial reaction to a difficult situation is reluctance and self-concern. But instead of acting out that frustration, the character pauses a moment to work through the conflict internally, finding a place of wisdom and compassion before speaking. Through witnessing that process, and the positive interactions that follow, the reader internalizes that compassionate voice. These illustrated stories are engrossing, well-written, and highly effective. With them, Mr. Esposito has given our children a wonderful gift.

The Principles of Our World - Honesty

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The Principles of Our World - Honesty
Price $9.99
By Harvest Time Partners, Inc.
Age
4-10 yrs.
Brain Child

The author David Esposito brings a lot to the table with this installment in a series of books that teach children the meaning and value of specific principles. This particular book deals with the principle of honesty. When the truth has consequences we may not like, dishonesty is always an option. Mr. Esposito does a remarkable job of clearly communicating, in a way children can absorb, the value of telling the truth even when there appears to be a short-term cost to doing so. Using stories and characters that depict real-life situations centered on home, work, and school, he helps children embrace that internal struggle as natural and to see the benefits of choosing honesty as a way of life. Parents and educators will be grateful to have this book to provide guidance to children in an area so essential to their ongoing quality of life.

The Principles of Our World - Sacrifice

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The Principles of Our World - Sacrifice
Price $9.99
By Harvest Time Partners, Inc.
Age
4-10 yrs.
Brain Child

David Esposito has done a huge service to parents, educators, and children by creating The Principles of Our World series of books. In this installment kids learn the principle of sacrifice, and like the other books in the series, this one uses several stories and characters to which the young reader can easily relate to demonstrate the principle at hand. Readers are provided with a window into the internal struggles many of us encounter almost daily. More importantly, the book provides a voice of wisdom, compassion, and clarity readers can internalize and use in their own decision-making. While the books are written and illustrated in a manner highly accessible to 4- to 10-year-olds, the author never talks down to them. In addition to teaching fundamental principles for making positive life choices, the books convey that we all have a choice in difficult moments. Rather than acting on our first impulse, we can practice taking a moment to reflect before reacting. Such lessons can have a huge beneficial impact on our relationships and quality of life.

Fall 2014 Tillywig Award Winners

Software & Electronics

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Alphabet Song Game Software

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Alphabet Song Game Software
Price $6.99
By The Critical Thinking Company
Age
3-6 yrs.
Brain Child

This educational software is very effective in teaching children all the letters of the alphabet. The 22 games (some focus on lower case, some upper) progress through levels of difficulty, and each offers the option to either repeat a game or advance to the next level. These games center primarily on selecting the correct letter (spoken by the narrator) from a collection of letters presented onscreen. The number of letters from which the child must choose varies with each level. Much of the fun is presented in the context of the Alphabet Song, with each letter sung at the correct pitch when it is chosen and full alphabet sing-alongs regularly provided as well. Some of the games require the child to always choose the next letter of the alphabet, while others take a random, rather than sequential, approach. Yet others shuffle the positions of the onscreen letter choices each time a choice is made, requiring the child to evaluate the actual letter shapes rather than rely on position or context. This variety has a huge positive impact on visual discrimination skills. The program also makes it easy for parents or teachers to monitor the student's success level in each of the games.

InnoTab Learning Cartridge- Go! Go! Smart Wheels Busy Day in Alphabet Town

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InnoTab Learning Cartridge- Go! Go! Smart Wheels Busy Day in Alphabet Town
Price $24.99
By VTECH
Age
2-5 yrs.
Brain Child

Kids will learn letters, spelling, sounds, and practice reading, writing, numbers, counting and more, all by enjoying the wealth of interactive fun and games found on this InnoTab Learning Cartridge. With a wide variety of approaches, these highly creative and engaging games are effective at introducing, reinforcing, and building upon letter, word, and reading skills. Kids will learn letter-matching in Mechanic Shop, find the missing letters in Catch the Letter Thief, rescue kittens from trees by matching sounds to their correct letter in Fire Truck Rescue, and even build roads while practicing handwriting skills. There are eight different games and activities in all, plus an e-book that contains a Go! Go! Smart Wheels adventure and includes a story dictionary. The games offer a choice of difficulty, ensuring that kids can explore and learn at the proper level and enjoy watching their skills progress as they rack up the points.

InnoTab Learning Cartridge- I SPY Adventure

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InnoTab Learning Cartridge- I SPY Adventure
Price $24.99
By VTECH
Age
4-7 yrs.
Brain Child

This InnoTab software cartridge contains four highly interactive games that build logic, vocabulary, and visual discrimination skills. Each of the games contains a total of 50 different levels, and the clever variety of those challenges gets young minds crackling with energy. In Riddle Rush, players inspect images containing many objects and locate the ones that were just named in a spoken riddle. In Pattern Quest, players fill a missing space in an established pattern of objects by dragging the correct item needed to complete the pattern. In Oops Hoops, players move items into hoops that contain objects with similar characteristics. Adventure Box has players eliminating objects that appear within a box by tapping pairs that have similar characteristics. Within each game, play progresses quickly from one level to another, and the variety of visual themes and layouts keeps things lively and challenging. For example, as the difficulty increases in Oops Hoops, the number of hoops containing objects varies and the characteristics that define the sets within them become quite a bit less obvious. Each of these games is compelling fun, and the critical thought processes brought into play are essential to math, language, and just about every area of study your child will ever encounter.

InnoTab Learning Cartridge- Learn to Write with Cody & Cora

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InnoTab Learning Cartridge- Learn to Write with Cody & Cora
Price $24.99
By VTECH
Age
3-6 yrs.
Brain Child

Kids learn letters, vocabulary, reading, handwriting, and much more with the help of Cody & Cora, two very happy little bears. There are several ways to learn and play. Kids can select Prepare & Play to help Cody & Cora make letter cards and play games (memory, matching, visual discrimination) or subsequently choose Free Play to replay any of those games. Handwriting Practice provides ample experience tracing and writing upper and lowercase letters and numbers. Creative Time has three different play options. With Photo Fun kids take photos, add decorations to them, and view them in the photo gallery. In What Is It? players connect dots to draw part of an object, then try to figure out what it is. Animation Creation lets kids experience the thrill of creating animations from their own drawings. An interactive e-book, Cody & Cora's Special Marker, allows readers to move through the story in several ways and touch words and images to hear them read aloud or trigger surprise responses and sound effects. Children find the fun and variety of these play options captivating, while the carefully orchestrated lessons instill in their young minds a foundation of learning that will last a lifetime.

Makies

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Makies
Price $115
By MakieLab
Age
8+
Best Creative Fun

With Makies, boys and girls design their own dolls online, right down to the slightest facial details, then receive a physical version of the doll delivered anywhere in the world. Kids choose gender and skin tone, then select from a variety of outfits and hair styles and colors. A virtual version of the doll appears onscreen throughout the process so that kids see what their doll looks like every step of the way. The creativity involved is exceptional, particularly when it comes to the doll's face. The eyes, nose, mouth, and ears each have several characteristics that can be altered to the tiniest degree using sliding onscreen controls. It is amazing how even the slightest change to one facial feature alters not only the doll's look but the emotion it conveys. Designing the doll is free, and kids spend hours exploring the creative possibilities. Once the child settles on a final look, mom or dad place the order and your child's one-of-a-kind doll arrives within two weeks. Makies take the imaginative and creative play possibilities of dolls to a whole new level.

OgoBILD with AnimatIt! Studio Kit

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OgoBILD with AnimatIt! Studio Kit
Price $70
By OgoSport, LLC
Age
6+
Best Creative Fun

The strange, fantastical, inter-connectable pieces in OgoBILD construction toys tend, in and of themselves, to inspire new heights of creativity. This kit not only contains 103 of those incredibly versatile building pieces, it also includes Animate It! Express, software that makes making your own stop-motion animation films as easy as 1-2-3. That is about as perfect a set of ingredients for unleashing creative fun as we can imagine. The included camera has a suction base and bendable neck that make it highly pose-able for shooting all kinds of angles. The software could not be easier to use. Set up your scene by training the camera on whatever creatures or gizmos OgoBILD's strange and wonderful building pieces have inspired you to create today. Snap a picture, then manually move something in your scene. Snap another picture, move something by hand again, and so on. When you're ready, click rewind and play, and an animated video is born. Editing, exporting, and publishing your movies is equally simple. With wildly inventive fun like this at your fingertips, inspiration strikes non-stop!

Skylanders Trap Team

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Skylanders Trap Team
Price $74.99
By Activision Publishing, Inc.
Age
5+
Top Toy

The Skylanders franchise has long been an innovator with respect to mingling physical and digital play, and in so doing creating some of the most visceral and loveable action heroes ever. Skylanders Trap Team, however, marks the first time kids can take characters out of the digital Skylanders world into the physical. By placing a crystal trap in the portal, Portal Masters can pull villains out of the game, capturing them in the physical trap. Once trapped, the villain can be sent back into the game to fight on your behalf, on the side of good. With Skylanders Trap Team, there are over 60 new Skylanders and more than 40 trappable villains. In addition to providing an array of physical crystal traps (one for each element), Skylanders Trap Team and the new Traptanium Portal work with all the Skylander characters from Skylanders Spyro's Adventure, Skylanders Giants, and Skylanders SWAP Force. Now that's awesome good news.

Tablet Master

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Tablet Master
Price $59.99
By Lexibook
Age
6+
Brain Child

This touch-screen Android Tablet for kids provides everything you could hope for in terms of content, ease of navigation, and powerful parental controls. It comes preloaded with dozens of entertainment, educational, and multimedia activities and services - a full $90.00 worth - and access to plenty more. A parent-created password lets users go back and forth between Lexibook and Android interfaces, and different users can set their own avatars and onscreen customization, making this a tablet the whole family can enjoy. With Wi-Fi and internet access, the parental controls are so effective and simple to use that with just a few settings Mom and Dad can rest assured kids will only be viewing age-appropriate content. With 7-inch touch screen, easy navigation, photo and video editing, and an array of cartoons, games, and creative and educational activities, Lexibook Tablet Master 3 puts a world of knowledge at your children's fingertips.