By Ellen Metrick
Gold Award Winners
Phonics Tiles, Neurosmith, $79.99; www.neurosmith.com, 800-220-3669; ages 3 and up. This powerful electronic toy teaches children to identify letters and gain an understanding of letter sounds, as well as learn how to sound out words and begin to spell and read. This item has many different features that help children learn reading concepts using open-ended play as well as game-like structure. The unit automatically advances to a more difficult level as children progress.
MagnaPhonics, Neurosmith, $49.99; www.neurosmith.com, 800-220-3669; ages 4 and up. This self-contained magnetic learning system helps children learn letters and phonetic sounds and begin to spell. Children move magnetic letters with an attached wand into the "active spots" on the board, then press the button to hear the letter spoken, the phonetic sound of the letter or a whole word sounded out. The unit automatically advances to a more difficult level as children progress. Four modes of play provide ample opportunities for language learning and fun.
Pixter Color, Fisher-Price, $79.99; www.fisher-price.com, 800-432-5437; ages 4 and up. Using the attached stylus, children young and old can touch the handheld screen to choose an activity - connect the dots, color by numbers, free draw or scene starters. Then, using icons at the bottom, they can color, modify, animate, stamp and create artistic masterpieces. High-quality visuals and music capture and maintain attention.
Teaching Cash Register, Learning Resources, $44.95; www.learningresources.com, 888-800-7893; ages 3 and up. As children play store and ring up sales, they will be "adding" educational learning into play. This working cash register has four games that encourage children to add, subtract, multiply and divide currency. Three game levels give children an opportunity for successful play and challenge them to progress to a more difficult level. Accessories give children the tools for stimulating imaginative play.
Honors Award Winners
Barbie "Sing with Me" CD Player with Sing Along Mic, KIDesigns Inc., $59.99; www.toptoysonline.com, 888-TOP-TOYS; for ages 4 and up. The very clear sound of this real CD player, complete with two CDs and a working microphone, can help your child discover the star inside!
Go Go My Walking Pup, Hasbro, $49.99; www.hasbro.com, 800-327-8264; for ages 4 and up. Realistic dog walks, barks, pants and responds a child's voice.
Musini Preschool, Neurosmith, $39.99; www.neurosmith.com, 800-220-3669; for ages 3 and up. This vibration-sensitive unit plays music when children move and respond to auditory games.
Radio Control Mighty Dump Truck, Hasbro, $49.99; www.hasbro.com, 800-327-8264; for ages 3 and up. This truck can load, haul and dump using a simple, hand-held radio control.
To see winning tech toys for other age groups, return to NAPPA 2003 Award Winners: Tech Toys.
See also: NAPPA 2002 Award Winners: Tech Toys
Ellen Metrick is a toy specialist with the National Lekotek Center.