Tag: development



Fine motor skills involve the use of the smaller muscles in the hands. Developing these skills is crucial because these muscles are used for everyday tasks you probably don’t even stop and think of.

Dressing, eating and keeping up with personal hygiene are all easy tasks, thanks to your fine motor skills. They are essential for performing everyday tasks, and a child’s self-esteem can suffer if they lack the ability to do so.

We all know that the best way to learn is through play, and there are plenty of toys out there that can help your child develop their fine motor skills. Let’s look at a few.

LEGO Duplo Gentle Giants Petting Zoo1. LEGO Duplo Gentle Giants Petting Zoo

Little dinosaur lovers will LOVE visiting the Gentle Giants Petting Zoo. Young children will build fine motor skills through building and rebuilding the baby dinosaur enclosure. Buy it here.

First Learning Wooden Puzzle

2. First Learning Wooden Puzzle

Ideal for young children learning to recognise shapes, colours and animals. Through fun shapes and bright colours, your little one will learn to match each puzzle piece to its designated spot. Buy it here.

3. Make It Real Block & Rock Charm Bracelets

3. Make It Real Block & Rock Charm Bracelets

Make beautiful bracelets using this kit’s pretty charms, colourful beads and alphabet beads. Your child will develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination as they create pretty jewellery to their heart’s content. Buy it here.

4. Barbie Fashionistas

4. Barbie Fashionistas

Each Barbie Fashionistas doll has her own look and style, inspired by the latest trends. Dressing the doll will help your child with their fine motor skills. Buy it here.

5. Toot-toot Drivers Racing Rampway

5. Toot-toot Drivers Racing Rampway

Rearrange the tracks to create a dual raceway, stunt track or super raceway. Race your cars through exciting courses with cars designed for little hands. Buy it here.

6. Tooky Toy 50Pcs

6. Tooky Toy 50Pcs

A classic and playroom staple, you can never go wrong with building blocks. This mixture of brightly coloured blocks can be built into anything you can imagine – a house, a castle, a city? It’s all up to you. Buy it here.

7. Play-Doh Letters and Language

7. Play-Doh Letters and Language

Learn all the letters of the alphabet by moulding them with Play-Doh. Included in the set are 26 letter stampers, two double-sided play mats, six tubs of Play-Doh and sculpting tools to introduce your child to the exciting world of reading. Buy it here.

8. Pip & Squeak’s Cheese Stack Game

8. Pip & Squeak’s Cheese Stack Game

Stack, flip and build with these uniquely-shaped wooden cheese wedges in three fun games. Rippled pieces make them easy to grip, ready for stacking. Comes with two wooden mice, 22 wooden cheese wedges and rules for three games. Buy it here.

9. Tooky Toy 5 in 1 Play Cube Centre

9. Tooky Toy 5 in 1 Play Cube Centre

This 5 in 1 Play Cube Centre will provide endless entertainment for your child, including an abacus for counting, labyrinth and maze and much more. Buy it here.

10. Fisher Price Baby’s First Blocks

10. Fisher Price Baby’s First Blocks

These chunky, colourful blocks introduce colours and shapes to your little one. Stack and drop the blocks through the slots in the bucket lid, and carry the bucket for more fun again and again. Buy it here.

You may also like:

15 Ideal Toys for Kids Who Love Building

The Arts, The Key To Developing Great Life Skills

|Why Play Is So Important Cairns


As parents, we often don’t think too much about what is happening when our children are playing. Why is play so important?

Play is incredibly important as it helps the development of motor, sensory, thinking and language skills. As children get older, play becomes more complex and helps with the development of problem-solving, social competence and emotional regulation.

Children under two years engage primarily in sensory-motor play which helps develop body awareness, coordination and sensory perception. As children get older, pretend play becomes more dominant which helps develop the higher-level thinking that underpins many academic skills; this is why play-based learning is so valuable.

Parents can help by providing opportunities for different types of play such as active movement, fine motor activities and imaginative play. Try to spend some time every day playing with your child; children love this special time with their parents and adults can provide more varied play than siblings.

1. Pull-a-long Worm – RRP $29.95 – www.ellej.com.au
2. Balance Bike Blue Chalkboard by Kinderfeets – RRP $150.00 – www.playmackay.com.au
3. Wooden Story Heart Teether – RRP $44.95 – www.playmackay.com.au
4. Hape Sack Racers – RRP $14.90 – www.theplayprojects.com
5. Rock Crayons 16 Pack – RRP $15.95 – www.theplayprojects.com



Sensory play is anything involving our senses – hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, smelling, and movement. It is important for children to engage in sensory play as it helps to develop motor skills, language skills, social-emotional skills, and thinking skills. Here are some great activities for sensory play.

• Slime – It is definitely the craze at the moment. Make your own or purchase some ready-made slime and have a gooey good time.

• Playdough – A little less messy but still great fun for kids and adults. Get creative and make cakes/burgers/pizzas or use cookie cutters to create different shapes.

• Sensory walk – Create an outdoor sensory walk by using grass, sand, pebbles and even a tub of dishwashing liquid bubbles.

• Rainbow glitter jars – Fill a jar/bottle with water, glitter glue and food colouring. Shake it up and watch the glitter fall.

• Musical toys – Fill rice in an empty water balloon, create a drum from a milo tin, the possibilities are endless!

• Smell scavenger hunt – Go on a scavenger hunt using your nose. Smell flowers, grass, the spices in the pantry etc.

Cook with your kids – Experiment with tastes and textures.



Most people think of sensory play as ‘messy’ play or exploration of different textures but it is much more than that. Sensory play includes activities that involve touch, hearing, vision, smell and taste, as well as movement.

Sensory play promotes exploration of the environment and also helps build important connections in the brain. These help children to make sense of incoming sensory information. This is important for developing attention and self-regulation skills.

You will notice that many baby toys and books are colourful and have different textures or noises that can be elicited by exploration. For older children paint, sand, rice, slime and play dough are always popular. Musical instruments are great for all ages to explore and in addition to the sounds, involve different skills such as blowing, striking, shaking and pushing buttons.

Nature play is full of different smells, textures, colours and sounds that you can explore with your child. Children also love to play with food and participate in cooking experiences which allows exploration of multiple senses.


‘A worried mother does better research than the FBI.’ Why is speech pathology important?

Who can relate? As a mum of 2 under 2, I have spent much of my ‘spare time’ (a.k.a sleeping time) researching. I’ve researched one topic or another in relation to raising my children to be the ‘best versions of themselves possible’ (Read= how to have somewhat happy, healthy kids and keep my sanity!).

I can not even the count the number of times my husband has looked at me exasperated. He’s asked ‘Isn’t there a book or instruction manual on this? Have you googled it?’ Unfortunately children do not come with personalised instruction manuals.

The good news is there are some areas of raising children that people specialise in, including communication development. Speech pathologists at Talk Time are experts at identifying communication delays. Just as importantly they are experts at supporting children and their families when they have communication delays. We also understand what the potential long term impacts are when we don’t treat communication delays.

When parents are concerned, they ask, ‘How will you help my child’, or ‘How will you make a difference?’ These are easy to answer. Your child can better communicate, reduce negative behaviours, and generally do better in school and life.

We’re rarely asked ‘What if I don’t start treatment?’

The single most important thing to know is if your child has a communication delay, they are unlikely to ‘grow out of it’. In fact, most children will experience more and more difficulties as their peers race ahead in development. The ‘gap’ between your child and their peers will widen. There are a small handful of children who do catch up on their own. As speech pathologists, we are trained to identify the types of difficulties a child having. We can also determine how likely or unlikely a child is to grow out of them.

Communication delays are more common than most realise. In fact, Murdoch University in Australia has found that 1 in 5 children starting primary school have a speech or language delay!

What happens if they are not treated?

Untreated, communication delays are known to affect children’s learning at school, by affecting their ability to read, comprehend, respond to questions, remember instructions and learn new information, just to name a few. Communication delays can also impact social relationships and friendships. Children can find it hard to be understood by others, follow someone else’s story or game rules, and tell their side of the story or opinion. This impacts their ability to negotiate, problem solve and resolve conflicts with their friends. Unfortunately, these difficulties can lead to disruptive behaviours in the classroom, in the playground, and at home, as a result of not being able to communicate effectively.

There’s some really interesting research from juvenile detention centres, where around of 50% of those children have communication disorders. Many of these children escalate quickly to violence because they don’t have the skills to negotiate, understand what they’re being told, or explain their side of the story.

We’ve talked previously about language disorders being ‘invisible’ communication disorders, because they are often missed, or underestimated. So for many children, we often don’t realise they are struggling, or just how much they are struggling, until it’s apparent they just aren’t ‘keeping up’ after a few years of primary school.

The difficulties children with communication delays face in the long run have can have a snowball effect: What starts as a delay, grows bigger and bigger as they progress through the school years. Difficulties in the classroom, communicating at home, and with friends can build up to cause low self-esteem or mental health issues. There are increased chances of school refusal, school drop out, frustrations and behaviours and less employment opportunities for young adults and communication delays.

It’s never too late.

It’s never too late to start therapy, so don’t be put off. But the sooner we start, the smaller the gap to catch up on.

All this can be prevented, or at least reduced. Those first 5 years really are the ‘golden years’ for early intervention. This is because it is at this time that children are building the foundations for all their future learning. It is literally when they set up their brains for learning for the rest of their lives!

I like to think of little kids as sponges. While they’re young they’re like a new sponge; ready and able to soak up so much new information.

As we grow up (or get older, whichever you prefer!) our sponge gets a little worn and doesn’t soak up as much as it used to. We’re certainly still very capable of learning, but we will never again have the same learning capacity as we did in those first years.

So if you are suspicious, have been googling how you can help or when to be concerned, give us a call at Talk Time!


Next parent information session: Ready, Set, Prep! The Foundations for Reading and Writing Success. Talking all things Pre-Literacy and Pre-Writing. Presented by Talk Time’s speech pathologists and Benevolent Society’s Occupational Therapist, Jackie Black! 31st May, 5:45pm, Cairns Early Years Centre.

Register online at www.talktimeslp.com, email admin@talktimeslp.com, or give us a call on 4045 4615!



From day one of life children begin absorbing the world around them, they begin learning about the language skills needed to be an effective communicator later in life. Children achieve a huge amount in their first few years of life, making it difficult to know if they are always meeting their speech milestones.

The following information outlines the speech, language and literacy skills children should develop by 5 years of age.

12 months

By 12 months children should be babbling, and using a variety of different sounds, and they should be beginning to use a few single words. These frequently-used words such as mum or dad, may have only been used a handful of times before 12 months, but should start to be consistently and correctly used around the 12 month mark. Children should also know and respond to their name and be engaging with the people around them.

18 months

By 18 months your child’s vocabulary is growing; they should now be using between 20-50 words. Children should be able to be understood around 25% of the time. They should also be able to understand and follow one step directions. These may need to be supported with a gesture for example “get the ball” as you point in the direction of the ball.

24 months

By 2 years of age children should be be able to be understood about 50% of the time and using 200-300 words. They should be beginning to combine their words into a variety of two-word phrases. Two-year olds should be able to follow two step directions without gestural support.

3 years

At 3 years of age children should be intelligible about 75% of the time and using 900-1000 words. At this stage they should be able to produce all the vowel sounds correctly. Children are typically using short phrases of at least 3 words, and their phrases should continue to increase in length quite significantly over the next 12 months.

At this stage children should be using a range of grammatical information such as marking plurals, possessives, past tense (-ed) and current actions (-ing). Children should be able to follow longer directions and comprehend a range of location concepts.

4 years

By four years, children are getting quite adept at communicating. Their speech is getting clearer and should be understood by most people 90% of the time. They can answer most questions about daily tasks, and start to answer questions relating to stories that they have recently heard. They are using longer sentences and joining ideas together with words such as ‘and’ and ‘because’.

You should also start to hear pronouns such as he and she, and negations (eg can’t). Four year olds will usually ask lots of questions and can start to tell little stories about recent events. Early literacy skills are also starting to develop at this age – most four year olds start to show an awareness that some words start or finish with the same sounds, and rhyming skills start to develop.

5 years +

By 5 years, children should be using well-formed sentences and be able to be understood by most people. Most speech sounds should be correct, with errors on r, th, and l still common. 5 year olds can understand complex instructions involving up to three steps (eg put on your shoes, get your backpack and line up outside) as well as understanding time related words such as before, after, now and later. Children in this age group are getting better at holding conversations, and they can sequence simple stories successfully. Early literacy skills should also be developing by 5 years with some recognition of sounds, letters and numbers.

Older Children

Speech Pathologists also get involved with older children who are not developing literacy skills are expected. By the end of Prep, children should know what sounds the letters of the alphabet make, and use those sounds to tackle words they don’t know when reading. Most children can sound out words with 3 sounds (eg mop, fun, set) by this stage. Generally speaking, if a child isnt meeting reading expectations at any stage in their schooling, an assessment by a speech pathologist is recommended.

In general, children should be interacting with others socially from an early age. The quality of those social interactions should increase along with their language skills. As a basic rule of thumb, if you are concerned, it is worth getting an assessment. Speech and language delays can have considerable impacts on a child’s ability to interact well with others. It can also impact their ability to learn to read and write.

Free services are available in most places in Australia through community health services. Sometimes also in schools as well as private clinics which can assess your child for a fee.