Now in their 16th year, the annual Practical Pre-School Awards, produced in association with Practical Pre-School magazine, are a firm fixture in the early years calendar. These awards aim to reward excellence in product design, development and suitability across a wide range of categories in the early years, pre-school and childcare sectors.
We have also broadened the scope of the awards in recent years to include products that are aimed at children in primary education, aged up to 11, by linking up with another of our own professional education brands, Primary Teacher Update.
Due to the established history of these awards, the scrupulous and independent nature of the testing and scoring and the wide range of coverage that we provide for all winning products, this is the definitive awards scheme for companies who specialise in the early years, childcare, pre-school and primary markets. Recognition in these annual awards is highly sought-after, competitive and a great accolade for your products – make sure you enter today to be part of the Practical Pre-School Awards 2017 in association with Primary Teacher Update and make the most of being recognised for the excellence of your products.
The Practical Pre-School Awards 2017 ceremony, in association with Primary Teacher Update, took place on 22nd September in Birmingham.
Again, this year we have been hugely impressed by the wide range of products which have been entered. The entries clearly highlight and emphasise the sheer range of imagination, creativity, expertise and devotion that have gone into producing new products. All of the products have been rigorously tested and marked by professionals in settings to attain their final score and their final award – possibly a Gold, a Silver, a Bronze or even Overall Category Winner.
The Overall Category Winners are all listed below. You can also access the digital edition of this year's awards guide here, which contains full details about all of the successful products in this year's awards.
The photographs from the September 2017 awards ceremony are available to download here.
Publisher: Lawrence Educational
Tel: 01223 328 051
Age range: Teachers’ Resource
Description: The 50 adventures in this book will inspire early years practitioners to embrace risk as an integral part of children’s play. With advice on best practice for managing risk safely, this book shows the potential learning possibilities for young children taking developmentally appropriate risks. It is very much about emotional experiences, as well as nurturing physical and cognitive development. Covering topics ranging from kitchen and campfire activities to physical challenges and expedition ideas, each activity comes with comprehensive and reassuring guidance for all in pre-school settings.
What the testers said: “We loved this book. It has lots of new ideas we can use in our setting. The photographs are eye-catching which make you want to read on and it will help staff who worry about risky play to plan and will give them confidence when carrying out activities. The activities are innovative, exciting and motivating for both the adult presenting the task as well as the child taking part. The ring binder is a great idea and the lists for each activity are clear, precise and very useful. It is creative, experimental, exploratory, experiencing, and very inclusive and I would highly recommend this teaching resource.”
Manufacturer: Millhouse (part of Spaceright Europe Ltd.)
Tel: 01526 354 404
Price: From £280.00 + VAT
Age range: From 12 months +
Description: Our sand and water play units come in three heights to suit children of all ages. Supplied with a wooden lid which can be used as a work surface. Made from birch plywood with protective water proof coating. Wheels on one side for easy mobility. Tub with bung for emptying water.
What the testers said: “A fantastic piece of equipment, easy to assemble and very well made. It is easy to fill and empty with water or sand. Excellent for learning maths skills and hand and eye co-ordination. Large enough for several children to all play at the same time, which helps their social skills. All of the children liked playing in the water tray, using funnels and tubes. Easy to move around as it has wheels at one end too.”
Publisher: Bigjigs Rail
Tel: 01303 250 400
Age range: 3 years +
Description: Transport the treasure around the wooden track to the castle. Train up the Knights ready for battle as the King and Queen watch over. Use the Pillory to give bad guys a telling off! The possibilities are endless with the Bigjigs Rail Medieval Train Set. Includes 46 play pieces including an engine and two carriages, wooden figures, trees, Knights’ flags and much more! Encourages creative and imaginative role play. Additional accessories available to expand this set and it is compatible with most other major wooden railway brands.
What the testers said: “Hats off to whoever thought up this idea! The children were immediately drawn to this lovely set which encourages imaginative and creative play. Easy to put together and well designed with plenty of sturdy wooden pieces. The children loved creating the track and putting together the castle and manipulating the wooden figures. More than enough in the box for 3-4 children to play with happily, but delighted to see that there are additional sets available to extend the set and it is compatible with other sets too.”
Tel: 01823 323 363
Age range: 0-12 months
Description: The Cuddledry hands free towel is made using a signature bamboo and cotton mix; it’s bigger and much softer than normal baby towels. It’s worn like an apron, leaving two hands free during bath time. When the fun is done, baby can be lifted safely into a soft, warm embrace.
What the testers said: “We all really loved this towel and so did the babies who we tried it out on. We even loaned it to a couple of parents with newborns who were also very impressed with how soft and easy to use it was; one parent described it as ‘life changing’. Incredibly soft and very absorbent, it comes in a range of patterns. It washes up really well and is as good as new each time. A fabulous product which would make a lovely gift for a new baby or to take along to a baby shower. Would definitely recommend it.”
Publisher: Singing Hands
Tel: 0208 288 1706
Age range: 0-10 years (but suitable for all)
Description: The latest DVD in the “It’s Signing Time” series features a collection of 25 tried and tested Makaton-signed songs, including some lesser known favourites and re-imagined vintage classics. The Singing Hands approach is innovative and motivating, with a clear focus on learning and development as well as encouraging participation and inclusion.
What the testers said: “A great way for helping children learn Makaton with this DVD, which has 25 exciting songs with signs from emotions, animals, vehicles, the alphabet, colours, numbers and lots of other concepts in a very fun, engaging way. The songs are simple, chatty and easy to sign and sign along with. Each song has a related environment to go with the song. The staff and, most importantly, the children, really loved using this DVD and found some of the songs very funny, which was lovely. Good value for money.”
Supplier/Manufacturer: Kuato Studios
Age range: Under 5s
Description: Based on the Jim Henson TV series, Dinosaur Train: Paint and Match lets children unleash their creativity as they explore colours with Buddy the dinosaur and draw pictures of him and his friends. Children can then practise their memory skills as they help Mr. Conductor correctly match his many train tickets. All in a safe and fun environment that encourages creative play and learning.
What the testers said: “Very colourful and appealing to the younger children. It taught them to use technology and they soon grasped the idea of changing colours too. They loved both elements of this game – the gentle easy colouring-in, then the challenge of the pairs against the clock. Great value for money.”
Supplier: Flair PLC
Tel: 0208 643 0320
Age range: 18 months +
Description: The perfect construction toy for babies and toddlers. The Classic Stickle Bricks Bucket is filled with lots of assorted bricks for creating anything your little one can think of! The building possibilities and role play opportunities are endless! The Bucket also doubles as a handy storage container! Stickle Bricks promote the best in development of dexterity and imagination with their easy to hold bricks that lock together any way you like! It’s perfect for little hands with big imaginations!
What the testers said: “We love Stickle Bricks! All of the children enjoyed playing with them and the constructions were never ending! My one-year-old loved these and has played with them every day. He even enjoyed tidying them away! The bright colours and different shapes are great as they kept his interest and all could be easily stored in the bucket that he could carry around as everything is so light.”
Manufacturer: Little Tikes
Age range: 9 months-5 years
Description: The Little Tikes Fold ‘n Go 5-in-1 Trike offers an innovative folding capability for the most compact storage and convenience on-the-go! With the Zip & Go bag, parents can benefit from safely storing their belongings while they take their child for a stroll and removing it to take along when the trike isn’t being used.
What the testers said: “The folding feature is fantastic and makes popping it in the car super easy. Loved all the different stages and that the trike stage looked like a funky trike, not a hybrid! It is excellent as it caters for such a wide age range. It is very safe as it has harnesses on it and the options to push the child or let them ride themselves. Would highly recommend. It would make a lovely gift for a child and see them through many happy years of fun.”
Manufacturer: Jumbo Games
Tel: 01707 289 204
Age range: 5+
Description: Learn to read and spell words in a fun and entertaining way. The specially designed letter system ensures that children can practise independently at home, what they learn at school. Includes 15 activity cards with 90 exercises across three increasing levels. The learning aid can be easily stored inside the practical storage case.
What the testers said: “I Learn to Read is amazing! We have never seen anything as good as this and will recommend so highly to others. Everything stows away neatly in a handy carry case and the self-correcting system means that the letters only fit in the correct place. The three different levels help all abilities, moving on from recognising letters to finally spelling complete words. Amazing value for money.”
Manufacturer: Egmont UK
Tel: 0203 220 0400
Age range: 9 years +
Description: Ever since Ma died, Mouse has looked after her little brother, Sparrow, dreaming of her destiny as Captain of the Huntress. But now Da’s missing, Sparrow is in danger and a deathly cold is creeping across Trianukka. Sea-churning, beast-chattering, dream-dancing, whale-riding, terrodyl-flying, world-saving adventure.
What the testers said: “A great adventure fantasy story book with a female lead character, which had my daughter hooked almost instantly. She loved the characters and commented particularly and enthusiastically about the language and style of writing. It has a beautiful cover, which is all shiny and blue and looks like the sea, while there are lovely doodle-like graphics throughout the book. We cannot wait to read the other two books in the trilogy.”
Distributor: Flair PLC
Tel: 0208 643 0320
Age range: 5 years +
Description: Kids will love creating their very own choc ices with the Mr Frosty Choc Ice Maker. It’s so simple, children can enjoy the fun without following complicated instructions. They just freeze their favourite flavour of yoghurt in the moulds, then when frozen, just dip it into the melted chocolate to form a delicious chocolate shell! Kids can even add sprinkle or coloured sweets to make the penguin’s eyes. Perfect for keeping kids entertained in the summer months!
What the testers said: “This has obvious, immediate appeal to the children, due to the fact they were given ice lollies and chocolate! It was easy for them to make and dip the lollies themselves. We only helped to melt the chocolate in the microwave. Just four little pots of yoghurt to make six lollies which were quick to dry and none of them fell off the stick before the children had finished, which we thought was impressive! Great fun and good value for money.”
Supplier/Distributor/Publisher: Kiddliewinks Music Pty Ltd.
Price: $60.00 AUD (approx. £35.00)
Age range: 3-8 years
Description: This resource gives teachers the means of sharing fun, creative orchestral music with their class. It helps children use their imagination as they interact with the music through movement and actions. Styles include: Big Band Jazz, Marching, Latin, Symphonic Metal, Cinematic, Celtic and Easy Listening.
What the testers said: “This musical based resource is useful to have as a lesson extension and gives good ideas to support the listening and appraising part of the music curriculum. The book is very user-friendly and contains a lot of educational activities, pictures, ideas and guidance to accompany the CD, which can also be linked to the Physical Development and Expressive Arts and Design areas of the EYFS. The children loved the CD and we have played it on repeat as background music. A fantastic long-lasting addition to any early years setting.”
Distributor: Flair PLC
Tel: 0208 643 0320
Age range: 6 years +
Description: The Training Goal Ball and Pump makes all round footballing perfection possible. Featuring four modes of play for young Messis to train their accuracy, shooting, ball control, touch and precision skills. Children can aim and shoot at the targets, use the curved surface to develop ball control, use the net to practise passing and use the large target and net to show off their new skills! This multi-feature goal is priced at only £19.99 and comes with a football and pump. Kids aged 6+ will have hours of fun all whilst perfecting their footy skills!
What the testers said: “The children enjoyed this very much and it worked well both indoors and outside. Very lightweight so easy to move and very good value for money.”
The results of the Practical Pre-School Awards 2017, in association with Primary Teacher Update, were announced on 22nd September 2017 at the awards presentation ceremony.
The presentation welcomed respected early years and childcare expert Kathy Brodie as guest speaker, alongside Karen Faux, editor of Practical Pre-School and Primary Teacher Update. The presentation were made by Evolution PR and once again the event was an ideal event for networking with counterparts in other companies, to meet the team from Practical Pre-School and Evolution PR and to be acknowledged for your success in the awards.
Please see answers to some frequently asked questions below. If your question is not answered here, please get in touch with the awards team at Evolution PR on 01327 227010, who will be happy to help.
A: All entries must be submitted by 26th May 2017
A: Each entry costs £200 plus VAT (£240 inclusive of VAT)
A: There is no limit to how many entries you submit. Evolution PR can advise on the most appropriate categories for your products.
A: Yes, we receive entries every year on behalf of clients.
A: Yes. We receive entries every year from international companies.
A: In terms of entries, once your entry is submitted, you are agreeing to our terms and conditions and are unable to cancel your entry.
A: The team at Evolution PR receive your entries and then begin the process of sending your product sample to two independent testers. The testers have to complete an official tester form and return this for evaluation and checking by Evolution PR. After all the products in the awards have been tested, the product with the highest score in each category is awarded as overall winner.
A: Every product entered into the awards is tested in two separate settings. Testers are usually practitioners or teachers and use the products with the children in their care to assess them as thoroughly, realistically and scrupulously as possible.
A: All testers are provided with a tester form so that all products are assessed fairly against consistent criteria. Testers provide marks on elements such as ease of use, clarity of instructions, fulfilment of intended purpose, value for money, originality, appeal at the start and end of the trial, safety, durability, portability and ability to be recommended.
Each product is then given an overall score and the results are determined as follows:
90% or more – Gold
80% - 89% - Silver
65% - 79% - Bronze
The highest scoring product in each category is awarded as the Overall Category Winner.
A: On 22nd September at the awards ceremony in Birmingham.
A: The judging list is made up of early years and nursery practitioners including managers and owners, childminders, nursery staff, teachers and most importantly the children in their care.
A: As publisher of Practical Pre-School and Primary Teacher Update, we publish the annual Practical Pre-School Awards Guide. This contains listing information about all of the winning products from Overall Category Winners through to Gold, Silver and Bronze winning products.
The guide is then distributed with Practical Pre-School magazine, free, to our readers in October, and as a digital edition to our early years and primary data lists.
The awards guide is also available all year round on our websites – the awards guide is designed to offer as much visibility in the early years and primary sector as possible for the successful products.
A: The awards are run by MA Education Limited, the publisher of Practical Pre-School and Primary Teacher Update. We work closely with the team at Evolution PR who administrate, organise, oversee and ensure the smooth running of the awards every year.