Monthly Archives: August 2014

Celebrating all Dads

This Father’s Day at Entropy, the Elves are taking time to recognise the importance of the vital role a father plays in a child’s life. Although it’s a major part of it, it’s not all fun and games – dads really play their part in the learning, development and overall wellbeing of their children.

Traditionally, mothers are the nurturers and fathers are more likely to be involved in play… well – that’s not the case anymore! At least this is true for Damian King, stay-at-home father of two gorgeous girls, Bridget (three and a half years old) and Stephie (two years old). Damian and his girls are weekly visitors to our regular craft classes.

Damian is a carpenter by profession and his wife is a GP. Due to economic reasons, it’s more beneficial for Damian to stay at home. This is quite common for a lot of families; in fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are 39,300 stay-at-home dads.

Damian and his two girls - Bridget (right) and Stephie (left).

Damian and his two girls – Bridget (right) and Stephie (left).

There has been a great shift in roles within our culture in the past 20 years. Dads are no longer leaving the house in the early hours, and returning in time for a pre-bed kiss. This cultural change means there is loads of time for dads to be more hands-on with their children than ever before, which has proven to bring a wealth of benefits.

Studies by the University of Western Australia have shown that children with involved fathers have better learning capacity, more developed social skills and they are better equipped to deal with emotional distress. Getting involved is also great for dads; they are more likely to feel satisfied with their quality of life but most importantly, they gain a stronger sense of being important to their children.

Backyard Tennis Set, $49.95

Backyard Tennis Set, $49.95

Damian really enjoys being at home with his girls and has gotten to experience things he wouldn’t have otherwise. “The most rewarding part of this has been being there for the little things, as well as getting to see them achieve their mile-stones, like crawling and taking the first steps”. However, he assures us it hasn’t all been that easy!

The most challenging aspect has been needing to learn new things. “Patience was something I had to learn quickly… then cleaning, making baby food and prioritising house work”, Damian said with a laugh. He’s also had to pick up a few dolls and participate in his fair share of dress-ups; all things he admits were foreign to him.

Princess Lillifee Rag Doll, $44.95

Princess Lillifee Rag Doll, $44.95

Whether your situation differs from this or not, one thing is for certain: there is no better way to form a bond with children than through play and sharing experiences together. This Father’s Day, we truly commend those dads like Damian who are making a positive difference in their children’s lives. So make plans to spend this 7th of September playing with your little ones and their (or your) favourite toys!

Find toys that will help to create those treasured times with dad at www.entropy.com.au.

Dads just wanna have fun…

We Entropy Elves firmly believe that you are never too old to play. And that includes you Dads! The Elves have compiled a list of some of their favourite choices for bringing a little fun and frivolity to your Father’s Day — be warned: there are no socks, jocks or putting your feet up with a cuppa here!

Father's Day

1. Engino Mega Structures London Eye with Motor, $449: Send Dad on an international trip to creativity with this awesome construction toy that’s fun to build and even better to watch in action.

2. Ravensburger Higgledy Piggledy House 1000-piece puzzle, $39.95: This may remind Dad from a scene from home, but piecing this detailed picture together and discovering all the hidden objects is a lot more fun than dealing with real mess!

3. Heebie Jeebies Galileo Thermometer 28cm, $29.95: A great focal point for Dad’s desk, he can even read the temperature with this scientific wonder!

4. Playforever Midi Bonnie Silver & Blue, $59.95: Classic silver with bright blue wheels and helmet, the Midi Bonnie is a chic toy version of the 1950’s Formula 1 racing cars. Made from heavy duty plastic, it is solidly constructed, has moving rubber wheels and is set to go straight to the pool room.

5. Thinkfun Solitaire Chess game, $35.95: Not your typical game of chess, there are 60 challenges (beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert), with each a sequential logic puzzle based on the classic game. There are 10 challenges for Dad to work his way through.

6. Heebie Jeebies Field Magnifier, $9.95: Great for the ageing Dad who won’t admit he needs glasses (!), this field magnifier (or ‘loupe’) has magnification of up to 10 times a regular device thanks to multiple lenses.

7. Windspeed Mad Dog Dual Control Kite, $39.95: Take Dad back to his youth with this awesome flyer — with a wingspan of 1.4m it’s very quick in medium to fresh winds. It’s oddly therapeutic!

8. Pathfinders Da Vinci Catapult, $44.95: Travel back in time with this medieval weaponry. All the pieces in this model are pre-cut from natural, untreated wood from sustainable forests and the whole model can be fashioned in under an hour.

9. Deluxe Quoits Senior Set, $39.95: A good ol’ fashioned game that can be played in the afternoon in the garden with a refreshing beverage; Dad will love to play this game at the next family barbecue.

10. Executive Pin Art Fidget Toy, $29.95: Little explanation is needed for this – whatever age, Dad surely can’t resist squishing his face into the pins.

11. Micro Scooters Black for Big Kids, $289: With huge 200mm wheels, this is the fastest scooter that Micro produces and is rated for loads up to 100kg. Now Dad can join the kids on their scooting adventures.

12. Playable Art Ball, $54.95: Designed in Germany, the Playable ART Ball allows Dad to create an endless number of symmetrical patterns and artistic displays by simply turning the interconnected colourful wooden balls. This wooden marvel makes a colourful desk toy and can even be sculpted into a mobile phone holder!

For more great ideas for Dad visit www.entropy.com.au

A box full of stories

Lovers of nonsense, fun and chaos, the Elves caught up with Karen Mennie — director and designer at Australian company Glottogon — to find out more about their quirky and attractive range of games and puzzles that celebrate the joy of make-believe.

lifestyle dino BIG puzzle

How are your puzzles and games different? We use bold, vibrant colours — we love colour and we use it often! We use original illustrations from emerging and established artists and we only use each illustration for one product – you won’t see the same repetitive image over-and-over in our collections. We believe madly that beautiful products are much more fun to play with for kids and adults and we spend lots of time making sure our illustrations are magical and unique… the more crazy and chaotic the better! Our products are easy to use and easy to tidy away; plus they look wonderful on the playroom shelf!

Karen at Glottogon

What’s the secret to an engaging puzzle? For us; the first step is the image, layered with lots of colour. We want crazy, interesting characters and attractive imagery that both kids and adults will get joy from revealing.

What are the biggest lessons children learn through puzzling? Puzzles and pre-schooler games such as Domino and Memory are a great way to develop concentration and patience, problem solving and hand-eye coordination, and social skills (learning to take turns, to win, and to lose). Children between two and four years who play with puzzles have been recognised as having better developed spatial skills and more ability in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects (more).

 

mermaid people puzzle_WEB

How did you come up with the ideas behind your games? I decided wanted to design games and puzzles that were a little more unique than what I could find on the High Street. I love make-believe, and have always loved to daydream — becoming a parent has reminded me how delightful it is to use my imagination, to question the smallest of things, and to always ask “why?” So one day I thought, “why not?” and started to find a way to source and manufacture our own products.

Can you tell us about your eco values? We strive to ensure our products are not only made well, but also made to last. We use recycled materials, vegetable-based inks and hand-craft every single one of our boxes… and that’s a lot of boxes! We design each one to be super strong and for the puzzles and games to be mega durable so that everything lasts and continues to be fun for years to come. We have no desire at all to add to the landfill.

What’s great about designing in Australia? It’s so full of opportunity — the attitude to life is very much ‘can do’ and that helps hugely when you are following your dreams. Plus there is the little matter of sunshine – such a fantastic motivator!

What do you love most about what you do? The truly EPIC feeling when I receive one of our new product samples for the first time – it’s so exciting to see all the design parts together in real life (as my four-year-old would say!).

fairy BIG puzzle_WEB

What’s your overall vision (now getting to the really deep questions!)? Play – Dream – Fly is our motto. JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan, puts it best: “I do believe in fairies, I do! I DO!!”.

You recently launched in Europe. Congratulations! What does this mean for your range? The short answer is – it will grow! We have been inundated with requests for new themes and products… did someone say Vikings??!

Glottogon_WEB

Do you have any particular favourites? Gosh, this is a tough question… I adore the Dino Derby BIG puzzle as it has so many hidden characters that you find something new each time you play. My kids are four and two which is a perfect age to play Memory Match Pirate – with a huge dollop of cheating I need to add!!

lifestyle trio space1_WEB

Biggest play tip for parents? Laugh, have fun, and remind yourself how fabulous it is to just play – playtime is such a gift.

Where does the name Glottogon come from? We get asked often about the name of our company, which is not really surprising as it is a little odd! It seemed that I had spent forever dreaming up a name for our business… one that would be different, memorable and; at the same time; mean something special and unique. I often listen to Sam (aka the husband) speaking with his Mamma. They are Greek, so they don’t really talk quietly… it’s kind of a festive shout to and from each other at ALL times — they don’t whisper, they usually speak loudly, and they often just YELL! And so I decided upon a bundle of Greek words which, in turn, became GLOTTOGON: Glo-tog-uh-nn from Greek meaning “story, tongue, language” and “generation” — it more or less means “the beginning of the story” or “about a new generation”. I think it’s apt, certainly unique, and I hope you agree — a little bit special!

Check out the entire Glottogon range.

Seven ways to get back to basics and increase active play

THE Elves at Entropy toy store are on a not-so-secret mission — to lure children way from their screens and bring more activity to Australian households.

“We are not anti-technology and it certainly has a place, but we want children to have a balance, which also means having time playing with toys that stimulate imaginations and movement,” director/chief poobah Dr Deborah Latouf said, who has a PhD in motor development.

The philosophy of getting children active and swapping tech for traditional is gaining momentum, with the USA’s Toy Industry Association (TIA) listing ‘Back to Basics’ toys as one of the key trends of 2014.

“Back-to-basics toys (often low-tech) are perfect for families that want to ‘switch off’ from technology,” said the TIA’s trend expert Adrienne Appell.

“Simple activities like kicking around a soccer ball, playing outdoors with bug catchers, or having a family games night are all fun and enriching ways to engage as a family, build shared memories and reduce stress.”

Dr Latouf said many back to basics toys also had a strong play value, meaning the toys and games were multifaceted and likely to transcend generations.

“Customers are increasingly asking us for toys that the whole family can get involved with and we are hearing that the doll’s pram or wooden blocks that they bought for their first baby are now with their third child,” she said.

“It’s about offering toys that engage and stimulate children, but also foster that emotional connection that forms those treasured childhood memories in years to come.”

Entropy Elf HQ is in Queensland, but the traditional toy shop is also Australia’s most extensive independent online store of its kind. It’s here that you’ll find all the classic creations that fire-up bodies and imaginations – from wooden rocking horses, dolls houses and building blocks to marble runs, scooters, puzzles, family games and craft kits.

We turn seven this week and – to celebrate – we have selected our top seven toys for encouraging activity:

Active toys

  1. Fat Brain Toy Co: Chalk Rail for Bikes: Designed to fit any bike, you’ll make getting outside even more fun with Chalk Rail — draw figure eights, wavy meandering paths, perfect circles, and fascinating designs.
  2. Maxi Micro Scooter: For kids aged from 5 years (up to 50kg) Maxi Micro Scooters are a smooth ride and super easy for kids to handle on that family walk.
  3. Discovery Kids Bug Barn: Get out and explore the natural world with this comprehensive observational set. Little ones will love to learn as they roam.
  4. Wishbone Wagon 3-in-1: Designed for kids aged one to 10 years, Wishbone Wagon is a multi-functional, beautiful and timeless 3-in-1 ride-on toy that children and parents will love.
  5. Seedling Outdoor Explorer Kit: Get your kids out from in front of the TV and into the great outdoors with this kit. It includes a drawstring backpack, observation journal, magnifying glass, LED headlamp with batteries, coloured pencils, magnifying bug box, stretchy lizard and insect checklist.
  6. HABA Block & Tackle Pulley System: Attach Haba’s Block & Tackle system to a branch to cart supplies to the tree house, or to the ceiling near the stairs to transport toys up and down – either way, adventurous kids will love it!
  7. Janod ABC Yoga Game: An entertaining one to play as a family, this is fun and fitness rolled into one as you learn yoga by creating the letters of the alphabet with your body.

For more information see www.entropy.com.au.