The Comfort of Toys and the Dreaded Lurgy

Written by Jacqui Gilchrist

A weekend of grumpy kids and soaring fevers had me not only pulling my hair out and rocking in the foetal position asking “why me?” but also thinking of why our youngsters find so much comfort in their toys?

Firstly, mum’s hug will always be number one for my kiddies but the next go to, will always be, that one special toy.

With our second youngest Connor, that was certainly the case this weekend. Fighting off a persistent virus he still managed to conjure up the energy to reach out for his favourite toy of all time, his beloved Percy Plane.

The toy gifted to him from us to show how proud we are that he is now rid of his dummy!

He is quite obsessed with Percy. He runs throughout our house holding this toy above his head yelling out ah plane, ah plane, ah plane. One would think I have been showing him re runs of Fantasy Island. Da plane, da plane!

Now, Percy is not what I would call the perfect bed time toy. He is solid wood and has a little peg man. Now if not carefully positioned, said peg man could possibly dislodge from his pilot’s seat and may well end up somewhere not so wanted during your sleep, but that’s a story for another time.

Toys for as far back as I can remember have had a big role to play in my childhood.

Only the very “special” toys almost always make a cameo in our memories when we think back on our childhoods.

As children, some of us may have had so many toys to play with, yet others may have only had a few or only one. My mother had a very different upbringing to me and my siblings. There was not a lot of money in the household she grew up in. Her only doll was made out of a stick and some fabric, stitched and tied together by her mother.

Household incomes have come a long way since then and most little girls not only have dolls made in an actual doll factory but they even have the campervans to go with them for when one’s dolly has the urge to travel.

So what is this comfort of toys all about?

Well, without being expert in the field children’s development, I can only say what I have witnessed over the years with my own children. And that is, that “feelings” play a huge role in the connection of our children and their toys.

Joy, elation, comfort, familiarisation, engagement are what I see in the eyes of each of my children when they play.

So naturally we see the yearning for those feelings when those not so invited feelings of illness set in.

Now don’t worry if your child is in bed with a cold and doesn’t reach out for that special toy, because, firstly, not all children find toys a comfort when they are beneath the weather.

As they say, no two children are the same. Well that is definitely the case here.

You certainly don’t need to be too concerned if your child has a comfort toy or not because in my experience the comfort a child needs may not come from an actual toy but something that they can connect with that brings them the feeling of joy.

And with that said the below are the differences in my children’s comfort toys or aids as you might call it, when they’re not feeling 100% and they’re in need of a little bit more than mum’s hug to help them sleep:

Sophie: Beanie Boo – odd looking toy with boggly eyes

Logan:  Minecraft Handbook – enough said

Connor: Percy Plane – see below image

Rory: Bamboo Swaddle Cloth – the swaddle we wrapped him in when he was a newborn (cue the scene from Mr Mom when they have a burning ceremony of Kenny’s wubby/woobie. I fear this may be the same road we are headed down. Look out for that post in the near future!)

And just in case you were wondering, here is what Percy Plane looks like:



Percy Plane by Indigo Jamm $42.95

I must admit Percy Plane is adorable but I really don’t recommend him as a bed time toy (see my previous comments relating to peg man!) but certainly a lovely any time toy for sure!

As I sit here on this hump day sipping on my much needed coffee with a glimmer of hope that the virus is on its way out, I am crossing my fingers and toes that my older kids can at least hold off a week before they bring home another load of dreaded germs to generously share with the rest of the family!

Until next time, have a lovely hump day!


Easter = Chocolate Feast?

Written by Jacqui Gilchrist

When one thinks of Easter one shall think of it as the National Day of Chocolate.

All religious beliefs aside, I can pretty much say with conviction that a good lot of humanity will agree with me on this one!

But what happens when we have our own children and the realisation hits that Children + Chocolate = the pile up scene from Where The Wild Things Are?

As the trend in “Non – Chocolate” Easter gifts rises, it begs the question. Is a Chocolate Easter becoming extinct?

Let’s hope not. And to be honest, as Easter is so early this year it only feels like Christmas was last week! So it would be safe to say the urge for splurging on more toys may be held back somewhat from a lack of overspending from Christmas (yes I am one of those people who after a whole year of saying I was not going to overspend, did so without a second thought. Boy do I need some budgeting advice asap!).

So, I noticed this so called Easter gift giving trend when my dear Mother in Law would wrap a gift which usually consisted of a new piece of clothing, a book and a small bunny shaped egg for my children.

As lovely as the idea was, it become quite costly when child number two then three came along and now child number four.

We can all probably agree that yummy chocolates are a must at Easter and can be done so without the worry of overloading your kiddies with too much chocolate.

Following in the tradition of said Mother in Law, adopting the small choc and gift combo or just an Easter inspired gift without chocolate can be a really delightful way to spread the Easter joy. Whether it be a small token gift if buying for an army or if you are wanting to amp it up and spend a little more we have a couple of ideas in our Easter Inspired Collection in store now.

Starting from as little as $7 here are our top picks:

Growing Pet Easter Egg $7

bunny egg 2

Jumbo Growing Dinosaur Eggs $8.95

small jumbo egg

Sonny Angel Easter Limited Edition 2016 $17.95

easter sonny angel

Projector Domes available in Earth or Moon $24.95

moon domeearth dome

Eggling Crack and Grow Lavender $24.95


Chuppon Rabbit Wild Strawberry $24.95


Team any of those up with a chocolate surprise and you have a winning Easter gift.

Go healthy if you wish and eliminate the chocolate altogether.


We almost always end up with too much chocolate eggs at Easter even when we try  and be good and hold back on the chocky egg buying, so a complete hiatus of chocolate would be just darn right impossible.

So if you are faced with the dilemma of not wanting to allow your children to overindulge with chocolate heaveness (if that’s even a word, I’m pretty sure it’s not, but I like it!) you could always take one for the team.

And while I take another bite of my Cadbury Cream Egg I applaud you for taking the overload of your kids chocolate eggs and shoving those yummy morsels into your gob and breaking that diet just one more time.

All in the name of Glorious National Day of Chocolate, aka Easter!

See you back here soon.

Happy Easter






The Importance of Learn through Play

Written by Jacqui Gilchrist


I am no expert when it comes to Toys but I have had the privilege to assist many customers with finding the ideal toy to suit their childs needs in my own toy store.

As the toy store is approaching it’s second anniversary I started asking myself some serious questions.

Here I share with you my personal Q’s and A’s…

Do I love my job?

Yes I do! But not because of the obvious things like testing toys and being in a really awesome and fun environment.

I love what I do because of what I learn daily in this business.

As a mum of 4 with children aged from 11 months to 9 years I often wonder what makes our children want to play with toys and why are they not just happy to watch the TV or in mums case an episode of Real Housewives of Melbourne or Call the Midwife (this depending on my mood for either the dramatic over the top craziness of a woman having a baby or dramatic over the top women acting like babies).

The curious minds of our wee little bairns is much more than sitting them in front of the television staring wide eyed at 4 people dancing and singing in bright coloured skivvys, or a sheep that can’t speak but goes to school with text books and manages to annoy all his other farm animal school mates.

This “curiosity” starts from birth and continues to grow as our children do.

As their senses develop so does the need for exploration.

Bright coloured objects, ones that flash, ones that don’t, some make noise, others move or roll, then there are those that feel soft as pillows or has sharp edges.


But what are toys?

If I had a dollar for each time an adult walked into my store saying “I wish I was a kid again”

We never lose our emotions or the momories of those emotions.

Where we often forget some events in our lives for many different reasons, we almost always remember those very little moments from our childhoods like the time I was two and I had the measles and my Grandma came to visit me with a new Mr Men toy (Mr Strong to be precise, and yes I do remember everything about that toy) that walked when wound up.

This uber skill of remembering things as a child may all well be because of the innocence of a child’s mind that just wants to explore and soak up everything about that toy or moment. What they learn about a toy stays with them and is then transferred into “reusable” knowledge for the next toy or activity that the child engages in.

Do I really believe that children learn through play?

Yes 100% I do!

More and more kindergartens and primary schools in Western Australia have adopted the learn through play philosophy which speaks volumes for our education system.

I have seen it with my own children and I (OK maybe a little biased here, I know!) have seen how my littlies take on activities like little Einsteins. They are confident and want to know more. Their little eyes widen with excitement when Mr Maker is on the telly making a Spooky Castle with toilet roll cylinders and paint (OK possibly boring to us adults and cue the whole “mum can we make this” carry on as as mum’s eye’s roll as she heads over to the art and craft box aka the milk crate in the shed).

But all of this energy of wanting to learn and do more stems from those same emotions and experiences of playing with toys.

Simple you say?

Well not quite.

What toy is suitable for our child to learn from?

Simply handing just any old or same old toy to a child and expecting them to learn something is like handing a bad meal to a customer in a restaurant who then complains and returns it to the kitchen to then have you replace it with another bad meal hoping they will learn to love it.

Toys as we know come in all shapes and sizes. I for one love toys that have all the bells and whistles. Like those old fashioned hand made dolls houses that had minitaure Chesterfield Sofas and tiny bone china tea sets (Downton Abbey nano scale).

Variety and relevance is key to getting the balance right when it comes to giving your child the best in toys. It’s hard to get that balance right.

And before you say it I will stop you there my friend.

It does not have to be expensive to mix it up and keep toys relevant and varied.

I grew up in a home where asking for more than one Barbie Doll was met with stares of “do we look like we’ve won Lotto?”.

Remember these few golden rules when selecting the right toy for your child or someone elses.

  • Is it age appropriate?  – We all now that the majority of toy packaging has an age suggestion on the box. This is just a suggestion as you need to gauge what level your childs play ability is at. Often a 2+ toy is not as stimulating to your child as a 3+ toy would be and that is unfortunately due to a gap in the skill level guidelines for toys in those countries that they are either designed or made in or both. Please note however that there will always be a safety warning on the packinging which will clearly highlight if a toy is not safe for a child under three years of age. You will usually see a little circle with a little face on it and the number 3 with a stike though it. Some may not have this symbol but will have it written on the box. Please do not ignore saftey warnings as it is there to protect your child.
  • Sounds – Children especially 6 months and over love noisy toys. A few of those “noisy” toys are a must and it aids with rhythym which is a bonus. Try selecting Maraccas or small castanets as a musical toy option.
  • Colours and lights – varied colours help stimulate childrens minds at any age. But as  as babies see a little differently to their older counter parts in the early days of their lives, sticking to primary single colours or black and white is a good start. Light up toys are great for those early days but can be costly especially when having to replace batteries so a more subtle colour changing night light with soft hues can be just as stimulating. That way you dont need to spend too much on a light up toy that wont be used again. The night light will be used often and longer.
  • Shapes  – Shape sorting  and stacking toys can assist with cognitive skills and hand eye coordination.
  • Size – Big is best? I don’t think so! Some of the most fun toys are either pocket sized or slightly larger. Not all big things can be easily transported so having those smaller toys can be handy to take along with you when travelling.
  • Solo or More – Some toys call for more than one commander in the control centre. Toys that can involve two or more children is a great addition to your childs toy collection for those times where sibling play is needed or little friends come to visit. Toys that call for more than one participant can aid your child with those all important sharing and social behaviors. It does’t have to be too technical, perhaps just a fishing toy with two rods.
  • Role Pay – It’s funny how as adults we wish we could be young again and on the other hand our kids wish they were grown up like us! Dress ups, pretend food or toy versions of lawmovers, and little clotheslines are just ways our kids can assert their grown up side. Let them get involved in our daily chores with their toys. A real confidence boost for them for sure.

End note

Well there you have it. Some of my insights about toys.

Just like you I am learning about these curious little beings aka our children!

I look forward to sharing more about the world of toys with you.

More to come. See you back here soon.


May Showers Bring Fall Flowers and New Owners!

Ball and Skittle Pty Ltd is an Australian emporium for children and a toy store.

Meet our new owners, Greg and Jacqui and the family at

Shop 19 in The Mezz
148 Scarborough Beach Road

As of 12 June, 2014, we upgraded our phone service. Same great location! Our new phone number is:

(08) 9443 8989

Free parking located off of Flinders Street. The shop is located next to OPSM. Map to Ball and Skittle Toy Store, Shop 19 - 148 Scarborough Beach Rd, Mount Hawthorne WA 6016

Find Ball and Skittle on Google Maps

Filled with Fun and Games!
Ball and Skittle Toy Store - dress up like a kangaroo or a giraffe

May showers brought us more than much needed rain. May also brought us new owners. Our family is excited to help you discover clever toys. We offer thoughtful toys and playful wares of whimsy for curious lads and lassies, with tomorrow in mind.

Stop by and say hi!

Monday to Saturday
9 am – 5 pm

Sundays during Nov and Dec
11 am – 3 pm

Closed on public holidays