Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Entropy Elves’ Top 10 Christmas Toys

Fa-la-la-la-la the best time of the year is creeping up on us again. We know how difficult it is to pick the perfect present for little toy lovers so – with much consideration – the Entropy Elves have managed to narrow about 4,500 toys down to their 10 ultimate favourites… guaranteed to bring plenty of cheer!

Entropy Top 10 Christmas Toys 2013

You can find these beauties here on our website:

  1. Micro Scooters
  2. Haba Ball Track Marble Run and Haba My First Ball Track
  3. Janod Picnik Kitchen, Picnik Toaster, Picnik Mixer, Picnik Microwave, Picnik Espresso Coffee Machine
  4. Seedling Craft Kits
  5. Haba Play Houses (and some other play tents)
  6. Le Toy Van Dolls Houses (and some other lovely dolls houses)
  7. Le Toy Van Lionheart Castle
  8. Windspeed Kites
  9. Djeco Craft Kits (and some other great craft kits)
  10. Corolle Dolls

Teaching kids about conservation

The Entropy Elves have teamed-up with the International Elephant Project (IEP) to support elephant conservation in Indonesia by donating 25% of the sale price of our beautiful Janod Elphy toys. We had a quick chat to IEP founder and president Leif Cocks about how we can teach kids about looking after our natural world.

Do you think children should be educated fairly young about conservation?
People’s values are mostly set before the age of six; therefore the sooner they are able to learn about the big picture of conservation and environmental issues the more likely they will feel empowered and passionate about solving them.

What age-appropriate messages can we give?
The most important thing is to encourage empathy for the elephants, or any other animal. With age, you can explore the conservation issues more deeply so children understand the complexity of the situations.

Do you think educating kids through play is useful?
Education through play is very effective, and educational toys are a suitable way to do this. For example, you could ask children to describe the life of an elephant in its herd and the problems it’s now facing with loss of habitat and poaching, using elephant toys and figurines as props to role play the story.

Here are some gorgeous elephant toys the Entropy Elves think are worth trumpeting about…

Elephant toysClockwise from top left: Folkmanis Large Elephant Puppet ($79.95), Schleich Asian Elephant Male ($13.95), Makedo Find & Make Elephant ($16.95), Wooden Elephant Bead Maze Frame ($19.95), Holztiger Wooden Elephant ($19.95), Chelona Mini Discovery Puzzle Elephant ($9.95), Melissa & Doug Puzzle Jungle Knob ($24.95).

Janod’s Elphy range is below: $10 from every $39.95 sale is donated to elephant conservation.

Janod Elphy elephant toys

Independence Studios’ Top 5 for Christmas (according to our rep Alex)

The lovely Alex from Independence Studios (IS) recently jetted north to visit Entropy Elf HQ. She had a bag full of goodies that the Elves excitedly rummaged through (new treasures that will be on their way to us soon), but she also allowed us to pick her bountiful brains about her top five Christmas toy predictions from the IS stable. And here they are:

Elf Bec with Alex from Independence Studios

Entropy’s Elf Bec (left) with Independence Studio’s Sales Rep Alex Burbury.

1. Apples to Pears activities in a tin ($19.95): These tins contain some wonderful elements to keep kids occupied, but then they can have just as much fun playing with their creations (think sock monkeys, pirate ships, bird houses, soccer and basketball games and train sets, to name a few). Apples to Pears activity kits are great portable toys for fantastic value!

Apples to Pears Pirate Ship in a TinApples to Pears Spiro Art in a Tin

 

2. Frosty the Melting Snowman ($12.95): What’s not to love about Frosty? You make him and he melts right before your eyes! He even does this on the beach for that true Aussie Christmas touch (although, be warned, he does get grains of sand in his ‘snow’)

Frosty the Melting Snowman assembled Frosty the Melting Snowman melted

 

3. Galaxy Star Projector ($24.95): Bring the stars into your bedroom! This is especially a great toy for kids who are scared of the dark. It also has speakers which can be used to play your own music from your computer or MP3 player anywhere. Very handy!

Galaxy Star Projector in action Galaxy Star Projector

 

4. Hop-along Rudolph ($24.95): It’s a fun toy with a fun name! Hop-along Rudolph is a good way to bring the Christmas spirit into your home while having a (reindeer-shaped) ball! You’d imagine he’d be the most sough-after guest at a festive barbecue!

Hopalong Rudolph packaging Hopalong Rudolph

 

5. Jungly Tails Boing Ball ($14.95): It makes a boing noise whenever you throw or drop it! It’s a great toy for younger kids due to its size and ability to stimulate the audio senses… even dogs love it (including my pug!).

Jungly Tails Boing Ball

For more great Christmas gift ideas, see www.entropy.com.au

The Play Food of Champions

The Elves were fortunate to bend the ear of Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) head nutritionist Dr Louise Burke (OAM, PhD, APD) this week about the importance of teaching healthy food messages early. Although Louise is very clear that she is not an expert in paediatric nutrition — her background is with Australia’s elite athletes — she certainly knows a thing or two about food (just look at those letters after her name for starters!). Plus Louise has been through it all with her dinosaur-loving nine-year-old Jack: a proud omnivore.

Louise & Jack Burke

What age can and should parents be teaching children about food choices and healthy eating/nutrition? As soon as babies start to eat solid food, they are ready to start learning about healthy eating. Early on, the priority is to develop new tastes and textures, and to increase the variety of foods that are eaten. This requires repeat offerings of foods with the emphasis on nutritious choices. It’s said it can take up to 15 times of tasting a new food flavour before a child becomes fully familiarised to ‘like’ it. That background is important before the child starts having more control over what they will eat.

What about as kids get older? Once children are starting to choose what they eat, they can begin to learn more about food in different ways. The first way is by modelling what other people are eating – seeing what other members of the family, or other children at day care, eat. Another way is by involving them in choosing, preparing and serving of their own meals. Nutritionists recommend lots of activities centred around growing food (like some herbs or vegetables in the garden), shopping for food (being part of the supermarket or market activities), cooking (having little jobs like putting chopped vegetable sticks on a plate and arranging them in colours) and eating communally (including being able to serve themselves from a central dish). Focussing on healthy foods and discussing their characteristics (for example, colour, crunch, taste etc) is important. As children grow, they can gradually absorb more information about food, such as the nutritional characteristics and what these do in the body to keep it healthy and functioning at the highest level.

Louise Buke on Sunrise

Louise shares her nutritional expertise with families all around Australia on Sunrise

What are some good ways that play food can help to demonstrate and reinforce these messages? Play food gives children an expanded opportunity to model these behaviours. They can pretend to prepare and cook their own meals for their friends or their toys, practising being ‘grown-ups’. They can take on the whole role play of shopping and learning where you go to buy (or grow) different types of foods. They can have ‘dinner parties’, mixing and matching healthy foods together into a meal and enjoying the social aspects of eating. They can also start to learn about portion sizes and what might be the right amount of different foods for different types of people.

How important is it that children develop a good relationship with food and an understanding about healthy options early on? Developing a good relationship with food is the key ingredient to learning about healthy eating. When food is free from issues about control, guilt or secrecy, it is much easier to be open to messages about which foods offer the best health outcomes and which are ‘special occasion’ choices, rather than everyday eating options.

Louise at work at the London Olympics

Louise at work at the 2012 London Olympics

What are the current stats about childhood obesity? Current statistics suggest that a quarter of Australian children are overweight or obese, with large increases in obesity rates among children where both parents work or in a single parent family where the parent works. Such scenarios might be associated with less family time around the processes of designing, preparing and sharing healthy meals, and less opportunity for passing on good food habits.

Do you have any advice or observations from your own experience as a mum? I have learnt a lot from Jack’s (now 9) food journey. It has been inspired by several factors and tools — he loved eating with his own special chopsticks and his Food Face plate where he could arrange his food to make a funny face. He also loved his chef’s outfit, which he donned to help prepare the evening meal. But his greatest inspiration came from his avid love of dinosaurs. He quickly worked out which were carnivores and which were herbivores, and his role in being an omnivore. If a meal time stalled, it could be quickly put back on track by the enquiry, “How do you think a T-Rex would eat that?”

Jack in the kitchen

Here are some appetising options for making meal times easy to swallow:

Food Face Plate Ragtales Picnic Set The Learning Tower
Haba Biofino Baguette Janod Chic Greengrocer's Set

Twisted Apple Corer & Slicer

Janod Chic Supermarket Janod Picnik Kitchen Le Toy Van Honeybake Blender Set
Haba Play Food Basket Santoys Wooden Stove Ms Food Face

For more kitchen toys or play food, visit Entropy’s website. Bon appetit!

Birthday party gifts for under $20 – bargain!

You’ve got yet another kids’ birthday party to go to (if only we could all be this popular!!) and you need a gift that’s going to impress, but not going to break the bank. The Entropy Elves have compiled this list of fab gifts under $20 — they have even separated them into boy and girls and age categories for you — easy!

Girls under 5

Girls Under 5 Gifts Clockwise from top left: Ragtales Rosie Rabbit ($19.95), Princess Lillifee 3D Floral Castle ($19.95), Heimess Touch Ring Feline Rattle ($19.95), Budkins Princess Francesca Doll ($9.95), Tiger Tribe Make & Play Fairy Kit ($14.95).

Boys under 5

Boys Gifts for under 5sClockwise from top left: Great Pretenders foam silver sword ($14.95), Fun Factory Roller Truck ($14.95), Melissa & Doug Pirate Adventures Puzzle ($14.95), Lilliputiens Simon Teething Rattle ($19.95), Aladine Tampominos Transport Stamp Set ($19.95).

Girls 6-9

Girls gifts for 6-9sClockwise from top left: Apples to Pears Sock Monkey in a Tin ($19.95), Djeco Jumping Jack Puppets India ($9.95), Sylvanian Families Swan Boat Set ($16.95), Makedo Find & Make Flowers ($16.95), Peaceable Kingdom Fairy World lock & key diary ($16.95).

Boys 6-9

Boys birthday party gifts for 6-9sClockwise from top left: Tiger Tribe Tim the Flying Bird ($19.95), Folkmanis Mini Firefly Finger Puppet ($19.95), Makedo Box Props Faces Robot ($12.95), HABA Terra Kids Construction Beetle ($19.95), Die Spiegelburg Mini Excavation Kit Velociraptor ($12.95).

Girls 10+

Girls birthday party gifts for over 10sClockwise from top left: HABA Necklace Fruehlingsblume ($19.95), Green Science Recycled Paper Beads ($19.95), Djeco Hip Hop Tanaka Paper Toys ($12.95), Triazzle Classic Puzzle Butterflies ($14.95), Schleich Clydesdale Stallion ($11.95).

Boys 10+

Birthday party gifts for boys 10+Clockwise from top left: Klutz Encyclopedia of my Immaturity ($19.95), Hoberman Original Sphere Mini ($19.95), Djeco Magic Kit Sacra Scarab ($19.95), Navir Optic Wonder ($16.95), Heebie Jeebies Field Magnifier ($9.95).

For more great gift ideas see www.entropy.com.au.

Out of this world science kits for World Space Week

It’s World Space Week from October 4 to 10 so the Elves quizzed science kit guru Stephen Johnco about his top four space kits.

As the joint managing director of Johnco Productions, Stephen Johnco is the face behind the globally popular and award-winning Kidz Labs science kits. These toys are a fantastic choice for boys in particular who are outgrowing traditional toys and want something challenging and engaging to do, while getting a cool product they can play with for lightyears!

Green Science Solar Rover
Just like the Lunar Rover that travelled on the moon, you can build your own ‘Solar Rover’. The sun’s rays are used to power the engine, which drives the vehicle onto its next exploration mission without batteries. Recycle a soda can to make your solar rover truly unique. It’s a science project that’s green, as well as fun!
Age guide: from 8 years.

Green Science Solar Rover Solar Rover2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earth Moon
Build and paint your own model to show how the moon orbits around the Earth, and then watch it glow amazingly in the dark! Assemble the 3D pieces and paint them to look more realistic (or maybe totally alien!). The pieces snap together so there is no glue required. The kit also includes a wall chart and interesting facts for further exploration.
Age guide: from 7 years.

Kidz Labs Earth Moon Earth Moon2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solar System Mobile
Make your own Solar System which is 42cm x 42cm and hangs from your ceiling. Even cooler is the fact that you can highlight the planets with the glow-in-the-dark paint – kick back on your bed and watch it revolving just like the real solar system! It’s great way to teach kids about where the different planets sit, plus you’ll unearth other interesting facts; for example, did you know that a day in Venus is as long as 243 Earth days? That school day would certainly drag!
Age guide: from 8 years

Kidz Labs Solar System Mobile Solar System Mobile2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glow-in-the-Dark Moon & Stars
An old-fashioned favourite that kids of all ages appreciate: Make your room a celestial masterpiece with this set of glow in the dark stars and moon set. Stick the large moon and 10 small stars on your bedroom wall and ceiling with the double-sided tape supplied. Quality materials are used which mean these moon and stars glow bright for a long time at night.

Glow in the Dark Moon & Stars

 

For other space-themed toys blast off to Entropy’s Gift Finder. Select the ‘Space’ interest (remember to alter the price range to start at $0) and you’ll get lots of intergalactic suggestions!