Monthly Archives: March 2015

Early Communication: Tips and advice by Jenna Mottin

Each month, TalkNQ Speech Pathologist Jenna Mottin will share valuable information, tips and advice on speech, reading, and lots more. This month’s guest post is about early communication.

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Ever wondered how babies learn to talk and when they should start talking? Children learn to speak by being spoken to. Through play, children are able to learn about themselves and the world around them which is fundamental in developing communication and social skills. Regular play is a simple and easy way to support the development of your baby’s communication and allows you to have fun together!

Most babies say their first words between 12-18 months of age. It is okay for these words to not sound exactly how they should. For example ‘ba’ for ball. Before the age of two, children have a huge jump in the amount of words that they are saying and will have a vocabulary of around 50 words. It is around this time that children will start combining two words together e.g. ‘mummy home’ or ‘big car’. By three years of age, children are using sentences of 3-4 words that can be understood by unfamiliar listeners.

Tips for talking with your baby include:
  • Talking to your baby often and speaking slowly, clearly and simply.
  • Place emphasis on words for objects that are commonly use in your baby’s world (For example, if in the bath you might emphasis the word ‘duck’ when playing with the rubber ducks).
  • Repeat the same words in the same situations often. (For example, if you are hanging clothes on the line with your baby name the clothing and use the word ‘up’, ‘shirt up’, ‘socks up’).
  • Imitate sounds that your baby makes.
  • Take turns when you are talking and playing (just like you would when having a conversation). This will allow your baby to have the opportunity to speak.
Tips for playing with your baby include:
  • Creating opportunities for your baby to play with other children. It may be with the neighbour’s baby or going to the local library.
  • Watch what your baby does with toys and copy their actions and sounds.
  • Sing and make music with your baby. Singing nursery rhymes over and over again with your baby will help them learn language.

If you have any concerns about your child’s early communication development, it is best to seek help early rather than taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. Contact TalkNQ Speech Pathology on 0467 239 554 or visit www.talknq.com to book an appointment with a speech pathologist.

 

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Catching up with Captain Active

Armed with a Bachelor of Sports and Exercise Science and over 16 years of experience in the fitness industry, Luke Wilson saw an opportunity to help families become healthy and active – all whilst having fun. Being the father of two young boys, Luke identified the need to create a positive role model that children would look up to; and a super hero was born. Captain Active has been encouraging, motivating and educating families in the Townsville region since early 2014 and going strong. Regular walking excursions at local outdoors locations, as well as sessions at schools and exercise centres, have successfully seen children swap screen-based activities with active fun. Just recently, Captain Active got a big TV break on Channel Ten’s Shark Tank, where he pitched his fantastic initiative to five of Australia’s most prominent entrepreneurs.

The Elves caught up with Luke to find out about his experiences on TV and what’s next for Captain Active.

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Tell us a bit about how Captain Active came to be.

Seeing how my two young boys emulated characters they watched on TV, I thought, ‘I should create a superhero who’s a positive role model for kids to be active and healthy’.  Given my background as a Sport and Exercise Scientist, it has concerned me for a long time how kids are being less active, spending more time on screens rather than playing outside and the amount of kids and adults who are leading an unhealthy lifestyle.  By creating a fun, energetic superhero, I thought I could show people how much fun it is to be active and help to educate and inspire families to lead a healthy lifestyle.

How did you hear about Shark Tank and what made you decide to apply?

I saw an ad on TV for the show and thought I’d give it a go.  The Captain Active program sort of fit into their guidelines, even though it’s not a specific product or invention.  I watched some episodes from the US Shark Tank series and really enjoyed the format of the show.  I felt I had created a great product in Captain Active and thought this would be a great opportunity to possibly grow the program.

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What was the selection process like and how long did it take?

There was a written application initially, then I received a phone call that pretty much ended up being like an interview.  The funny thing about this was that I had just finished a Captain Active games session at a school and I was sitting in my car in the full superhero suit when they called!  From there, I was invited to an audition in Sydney, where I pitched Captain Active to a panel of TV executives and producers.  It was about a month after that, that I got a call saying I was invited to go on the show.  From start to finish, it was about a 4 month process.

How did you react when you were told you were going to be on TV? How did you prepare for it all?

I really didn’t think I’d end up on the show, so was pretty shocked when they called to invite me on.  Of course, I was very excited (even more excited than Captain Active normally is!).  Then they called to say they would fly my wife and 2 boys down to Sydney for the filming also.  They were filmed backstage for their reactions whilst I was with the Sharks.  Unfortunately, this part of the show has been edited out, but it was an absolute thrill to have the whole family involved in all the excitement.  I did a lot of preparation around what and how I was going to pitch Captain Active.  I knew my drawback was the financial aspect of the business at this stage, which was why I tried to focus on the potential of what I’ve created.  I only found out about a week before filming who the sharks were, so I crazily did as much research as possible to understand where they were coming from and what may appeal to them.  Opportunities like this don’t come along often, so I wanted to give it everything I had!

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When Sunday night came around and it was time to view the show, were you super nervous? Who did you watch it with?

I was a bit nervous about how the show was going to be edited.  Although I received a lot of positive comments and support from the sharks when it was filmed, I didn’t know how it was going to come across on TV.  The show was on at 8pm in Queensland, but due to daylight savings, an hour earlier down south.  I was on Twitter and Facebook following all the comments from 7pm, which was a pretty funny experience!  Then, my wife and I sat down to watch it at 8pm, kind of not knowing what to expect.  We were really happy though the way it came across.  Plenty of energy, lots of fun, heaps of laughs and I got Andrew Banks bottom shuffling, so it was a successful Captain Active appearance!  It was very surreal watching it – almost like an out of body experience, as I was sitting in my lounge room, but also on national TV!

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What has the reaction of the public been so far?

We’ve had an amazingly positive and supportive response.  We’ve received so many Facebook messages, tweets, texts, calls and emails saying how awesome Captain Active is, that it’s great we’re trying to get kids healthier and to not give up.  Because I had to take the mask off during the show, people are recognising me around town too, which is pretty funny!  In the week after the show, the likes on the Captain Active Facebook page went from 650 to over 1,500!!

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 What does the future hold for Captain Active?

Captain Active won’t stop until the whole of planet earth are having fun being active and healthy!  I’m working hard trying to get a TV series happening, however, this is proving very challenging.  Captain Active is the ambassador for the Townsville Airport 2.5K Hero Run at the Townsville Running Festival in August, so that’s going to be great fun.  There will be lots more filming of adventures, games sessions for kids at gyms (and Entropy!), family adventures on weekends, visits to schools and kindys and crazy Captain Active antics that will hopefully entertain, educate and motivate kids and grown-ups to be active.

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The Elves are delighted to host Captain Active Kids Classes at Entropy Toy Store every Wednesday from 9:30am-10:30am, starting Wednesday March 25. It’ll be an hour of air-conditioned exercise fun, designed to teach children about leading a healthy lifestyle whilst developing coordination, motor skills and physical abilities, in an energetic environment. For full details, check out our In-Store Activities here.

If you’re not in Townsville, don’t worry! Bring Captain Active to your living room with his four-DVD set, which features multiple active games and healthy, fun recipes that the whole family can enjoy. You can purchase these here.

The Entropy Elves x

Toy Fair Treasures 2015

Let the hunting begin!

Day One

It was a sunny Tuesday morning in beautiful Melbourne… the Elves woke up feeling a sense of adventure and anticipation – it was time to find some wonderful new treasures at the 2015 Toy Hobby & Licensing Fair.

For the next four days we would be walking through the immense Melbourne Exhibition Centre – picture stall after stall filled with the newest and current offerings from some amazing national and international brands… heaven! In short, this is the stuff Christmas dreams are made of. The first day was a walk through, where we scoped out the fair; but we managed to spot some lovely things straight away, which was very promising.

  • Rainbows and Clover – can we just take a moment to appreciate these stunning felt nests?! And what a beautiful set up. Definitely one of our favourite stalls!

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  • Old toys exhibition – we went from seeing the newest and latest, to heading back in time and getting to appreciate some old classics. We were amazed at these collector items.

 

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  • Delightful decor – beautiful lighting, lamps, mobiles. The name said it all – absolutely delightful.

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  • Colours of Australia Felt creations – we are in love with anything felt! These beauties really do tell a story; there were also some lovely finger and puppets, felt vegetables and fruit, and lots more. We could’ve gotten lost amongst all these gorgeous felt goodies!

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Phew. That concluded our first day at the 2015 Toy Hobby & Licensing Fair and what a fantastic start it was! We couldn’t wait to see what tomorrow would bring.

Day Two

We enjoyed some one-on-one time with some of our suppliers. First up we visited the Axis Toys stand, where Paula showed us the newest dolls, Miniland toys, and our favourite find – some beautiful, hand-made, wooden fairy doors from Bali. Paula told us these were fair trade and 50 people within a local village made these – how very special! These magical doors were the first to arrive from our Toy Fair orders, and are now available online here.

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Next we visited Michael from Educational Experience. We were shown the newest from one of our favourite brands, HaPe. There were some really unique wooden craft activity kits like a mosaic kit, sand art and embroidery. They came with a frame to display your masterpiece once completed – very cool. While Chief Poobah sat down to make some very important decisions, such as deciding what goodies to bring back to Entropy Elf HQ, Elf Dani and Bec got to create their very own magnetised structures with some colourful Tegu pieces, and were kindly fed some yummy popcorn – can we stay here forever?! But no, there is lots more yet to be discovered, the Elves must carry on!

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Day Three

We visited the lovely Jos at Kaleidoscope, where she showed us so many new additions to their own brand Mamagenius. We adored the pastel tones on the beautiful wooden toys. We were also delighted to see our favourite Papo figurines now come in mini-tubs, which is really cool for party favours, decorations, and free play of course! We discovered some new Djeco puzzles and craft kits, and were delighted to play with new Folkmanis puppets.

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Going to the Micro stand is exciting every year, there is always splash of colour awaiting us! This time was no different, the Mini Micro got a lot more colourful. We were pleased to see that the Mini Microscooter 2 Go won the Australian Toy Association 2015 Specialty Award – well deserved! You can purchase this award winner here.

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Next stop was Artiwood, where John Daniels showed us some pretty colourful bells with a beautiful sound – these will be at Entropy Elf HQ soon, so keep an eye out! We couldn’t stop looking at all the Apple Park cuties – what a beautiful set up.  John ArtiwoodApple PArk

Next we saw Sheryl from Cactus and we had to take a snap! Sheryl showed us the colourful, and very stylish new watches which we loved, so keep an eye out for these throughout the year.

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The Elves just had to return to Rainbows & Clover to have a chat with Kylie and get snap – look at all the colours and felt garlands/rugs and the teepee set up! We loved this stand’s gorgeous colours layout; Elf Bec left feeling inspired.

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Next up we saw Flick from Heebie Jeebies, and this stand is always so much fun! She was genuinely excited to show us some cool, geeky things to play with. We especially loved the Hydrophobic Sand – it’s silicone coated so when it’s lifted out of the water, it’s dry! This makes building under-water castles extra fun.

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Elf Bec enjoyed chatting to Rami about the newest games, and is very much looking forward to some newbies arriving in store and having a play with our customers also.

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We love meeting new faces, so we were delighted to find Steve and Aurora from Wordasauras, which is an educational game that helps children write, construct sentences and build their vocabulary. It’s all about having fun with words, and the Elves and Chief Poobah love that!

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Day Four

Last stop through Toy Fair was Modern Brands, where Dan showed us some exciting new arrivals, including the new beautiful Sylvanian Families. As you can see below, the new Sylvanian scenes are so thorough and detailed, we couldn’t resist sharing these on Facebook!

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The Elves and Chief Poobah couldn’t believe how quickly it all went; but like they say, time flies when you’re having fun!

We’re more than excited to see some of our new discoveries make their way to Entropy Elf HQ through the year, so make sure you stay connected with us to find out when they’re here first.

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Until the next Toy Fair…

The Entropy Elves x