‘Team 360 Play’ set for 50 mile cycle ride in support of Sport Relief 2016

The UK fundraising event Sport Relief takes place once again in March this year – and the team at family entertainment centre operator 360 Play will be doing their bit to help raise money for this very worthy cause.

Managing Director Duncan Phillips will be joined by several members of the head office team at DP House in Milton Keynes for a sponsored cycle ride over a distance of 50 miles on March 20th. The route begins and ends at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s iconic Lee Valley VeloPark, part of the site of the 2012 London Olympic Games, and the 360 Play team will be hoping their efforts raise lots of money for Sport Relief.

Each team member will ride the 50 mile route and as well as funds being raised through individual sponsorships, 360 Play itself will be adding its own contribution to the pot!

Sport Relief has been running in the UK every second year since 2002 and of all the money raised by the public, 50 per cent is used to make a difference to people’s lives in the UK while the other 50 per cent goes towards transforming  lives across the world’s poorest communities. Just under £72m was raised through a wide range of sponsored events and activities in 2014.

“Supporting charities and the wider local communities in all the areas in which we operate is something we’ve done for a number of years,” explained 360 Play sales and marketing manager Billie-Jan Hills, “and when it was mentioned in the office that we should do something for Sport Relief this year the idea inspired quite a few of us. The 50 mile cycle ride is one of the official events organised by Sport Relief so we decided to have a go at that. We are doing some serious training so hopefully we’ll raise lots of money for this great cause.”

The 360 Play team’s admirable efforts also reflect the company’s philosophy as far as young children are concerned, in that the company believes strongly in providing fun activities designed to encourage physical, active, imaginative and creative play, enhancing and supporting children’s development. Its centres are filled with elements to ensure this is achieved among its young visitors who in being encouraged to enjoy physically active pursuits at a young age may one day themselves take part in a Sport Relief event.

For more information on 360 Play visit www.360play.co.uk For more information on this year’s Sport Relief visit www.sportrelief.com

29 things to do with the extra day in a Leap year

Pretty much everyone by now will know that 2016 is a leap year, with the date of February 29th. providing us all with an extra day in the year. It falls on a Monday this time round, so for many it will be a work day, but here at 360 Play we’ve been thinking about what you could do with that extra day and have come up with ‘29’ suggestions for both adults and children, with lots that families can enjoy together too. Why not take a look and see if any take your fancy!

  1. Get together with your children and find out why leap years happen. Or if you already know, share it with them
  2. Get kids up and active with some jumping and hopping contests – after all it is a ‘leap’ year
  3. Play musical lily pads – just like musical chairs but get the kids to cut out lily pad shapes which they can then use in the game
  4. Have a frog croaking contest – loudest or longest wins
  5. For teachers, have a science lesson around frogs and teach the kids about their lifecycle
  6. It’s pretty crazy to see February 29th on the calendar so do something ‘crazy’ on the day. Wear a crazy hat or have the kids wear their clothes the wrong way round!
  7. Make a list of things you hope to achieve over the next four years
  8. Plant some seeds with the kids that are easy to grow, such as sunflowers
  9. Go on a bike ride
  10. Go to the park for a walk
  11. Feed the ducks
  12. Look for ladybirds and count how many you find
  13. Fly a kite
  14. Clear out your wardrobe
  15. Have a leap year party with friends
  16. See what’s on at the theatre or cinema
  17. Go ten pin bowling
  18. Go to an arboretum and check out all the different trees
  19. Do some stargazing
  20. Do something you’ve never done before
  21. Go to a craft centre and try pottery or another craft
  22. Go out for a meal to a place you’ve never tried
  23. Go to a specialist ice cream shop and try a flavour you’ve never had before
  24. Do some baking and make something different – like frog faced cupcakes
  25. Wear something ‘frog like’ all day – or play leap-frog
  26. Go to the beach (would you usually do this in February?)
  27. Take a break from your regular chores – and have some ‘me’ time
  28. Pay a visit to your local 360 Play family entertainment centre
  29. And finally, of course, for the ladies – there’s the traditional one of getting down on one knee and proposing

Whatever you choose to do on the extra day this year brings, have fun!

Using tech to have fun and get creative!

So half-term is with us and no doubt many readers of this blog will be trying to think of things to do to keep the young ones happy and occupied over the next week or so. You don’t want them sitting in front of a screen all day, but technology is a part of everyone’s life these days whether we like it or not, so we thought we’d suggest some half-term fun and games that involve tech in creative and physical ways and not necessarily the ‘couch potato’ kind!

  • Let the kids become ‘digital animators’ with the free Stop Animator app. Through a super simple interface, this clever app allows you to create stop action videos. You can get creative and paint scenes on large pieces of cardboard, use toys as characters and get the kids to do voice overs as you create an animated video. It’s simple to use and gives hours of fun.
  • Make a TV! A bit ‘old school’ for sure but again great, simple fun. Get a large cardboard box and get the children to decorate it like a TV with all the different buttons and so on. Then ask them to create a TV programme to put on for you by getting inside the box or, if it’s not big enough for that, they can put it on a table and kneel behind the ‘screen’ as they talk through it. And the best part? You get to sit down with a cuppa and watch as they entertain you (and themselves!)
  • Go geocaching. This is a great way to get out and about and adds some real fun to a walk, which all the family can take part in. It’s basically a treasure hunt which uses GPS or mobile devices to find containers called ‘geocaches’ or ‘caches’ – literally anywhere. A typical cache will contain a logbook and the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it. After signing the log, the cache must be put back in exactly the same place as it was found. Larger containers may also have items for trading, such as toys or trinkets, so you can take items to swap. There will be geocaching opportunities somewhere near where you live so a search on the internet should provide the necessary details.
  • A Powerpoint project for Key Stage 2 children. Come up with a few fun topics that your children would enjoy looking into and talking about, ask them to choose one and get them to find out as much as they can about it. Then ask them to create a Powerpoint presentation on it to show you what they’ve come up with.
  • Do a time trial. Weather permitting, take the kids to the park or somewhere similar and set them some timed tasks, like races, obstacle courses or ‘find three red things’ (or whatever) in a minute. Then use the stop watch on your phone to time them. Alternatively, if you have children who don’t do well with competition pressure, then change this to a kids v. grown-ups game – find three red things before me – in which you can control who wins and how often.
  • Read a book on a kindle. We all love a physical book but the odd time sitting with your child and reading a kindle book or ibook is time well spent too and a good excuse to use some tech.

A special year for ‘leaplings’ – and a special 360 Play offer to go with it!

2016 is a leap year and with just under 5 million ‘leaplings’ worldwide, people born on the rare date of 29th February, there will be lots of happy leap day children who can truly celebrate their birthday this year.

Why do we have a leap year?…

The leap years keep everything in sync, most notably the seasons. For example, if we didn’t have them those of us who celebrate Christmas in the winter would eventually end up doing so in the summer. It’s all related to the solar system, but we won’t go into the technicalities of that here. Suffice to say it’s a necessary thing for us to be doing and as noted, keeps everything nicely in sync with the solar year.

Leaplings…

Children born on this date find their birthday can have an impact on a variety of every-day things. Firstly parents need to choose when to celebrate their child’s birthday, while for young leapers themselves they are often teased by their peers who wrongly think they only have a birthday every four years. When they are older, it can be as annoying as application forms that require their date of birth to be entered, as some computer services and software programmes still don’t recognise the date.

Parents of leaplings…

Many questions arise for parents of leap day babies (On that, a very important point, you must refer to people born this day as leap day babies, not leap year babies. Anyone can be born in a leap year!) Questions like, when will my child become of legal age? How old are they? How do I explain it to them? When should we celebrate their birthday when it’s not a leap year? Of course, for all questions these days there is a virtual answer. We at 360 HQ quite like this website:

http://www.leapyearday.com/content/parents-page

It’s also important for parents of leaplings to understand all about leap day. If you take the time to learn as much as possible about it, when your youngsters are old enough to discuss it properly and have things explained to them, it will make it much easier on you as the one doing the explaining. And of course when they get questions asked of them, they will then also know what the right answers are.

This year, 360 Play is helping your leaplings celebrate their special day with a special offer!

We are offering a 50% discount to leaplings who book a party at 360 Play for February 29th.

So if your child was born on this special date, why not let us help them make it especially memorable in 2016 with a fun time at your nearest 360 Play venue.

And just for fun, here are 6 fascinating facts about leap year:

  • ‘Bachelors day’ where women can propose to men was apparently down to Queen Margaret of Scotland, who was apparently just five years old when she came up with the February 29th proposal trap,  (sounds a tad too young, we agree, but that’s what the tradition states!).
  • If a man refused a proposal, he would be fined a kiss, a silk dress or 12 pairs of gloves.
  • Tradition also shows that women can propose on February 29th but they must wear either breeches or a scarlet petticoat to do so.
  • One in five engaged couples in Greece will avoid getting married in a leap year as they believe it’s bad luck.
  • If you are on a fixed annual wage you work for free on February 29th. (think about it)
  • The frog is a symbol associated with February 29th.

How will your little ones celebrate the New Year?

With Christmas almost upon us and the excitement building to a crescendo for most youngsters, no doubt all the usual things families do in the lead up to the big day will by now have been done. Shopping, seeing the Christmas lights in your local town, a visit to Santa, the school nativity play and more are all probably ticked off.

So looking ahead another week or so to New Year, here at 360 Play our thoughts have turned to how young children might celebrate the beginning of another year. New Year’s Eve is, of course, usually more of a time for adults to ‘get the party started,’ with the youngsters being tucked up in bed. But there are some things children can do too which although they may not include staying up until midnight are a good way for them to mark the start of another year.

We’ve come up with the following which might help you help them to make more of New Year and have some fun at the same time.

1) Get them to write out a list of promises to themselves for next year. Yes, basically a list of ‘resolutions’ but they could stick it on a wall and tick them off as each one is achieved.

2) Make a time capsule. This is always fun, particularly when it’s opened up of course, and they can have a great time choosing what to put in it.

3) Throw a small party for a few friends and have a ‘fake’ midnight countdown to New Year at, say, 9pm. They’ll love it!

4) Put together something traditional for the first visitor to your home after midnight. To ensure good luck for the home, the Scots traditionally leave out symbolic coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and whisky (although not all these items are readily available these days!), but whatever tradition you choose to follow, it’s fun for the kids and teaches them a bit about the ways of old!

5) And finally, what about planting a tree or shrub? Again it’s a lovely tradition and the whole family can watch it grow over the coming years.

However you decide to celebrate the New Year, everyone at 360 Play wishes you a wonderful and happy 2016.

Nativity plays – What do you mean my child’s not Joseph?

Nativity plays. One of my favourite things about being a mum is seeing my little ones perform in their nativity plays. It makes Christmas special for me. On that evening, I sit there, tall and proud, camera glued to my child, smiling like a wholly along with every other mum and dad there, however as every parent knows, the run up to that crowning moment of glory is never smooth.

Preparing for a nativity play can be pretty stressful, if you let it become so. From the moment you find out their role (a cow for my 4 year old this year, I mean, please! don’t they know how talented he is!) you’re creating costumes, practising songs and soothing performance anxieties not to mention listening to other parents gloat that their child is playing Mary or Joseph. Oh the pressures that many parents feel at this time of year in amongst other Christmas ‘to do’s, and I find myself asking, can this whole thing be a lot more simple?

The key, I have found, is to not take it too seriously and if at all possible, enjoy the process. When you are dealing with a whole class of five year olds, things are not going to run 100 per cent smoothly – in fact, far from it. Yes, be prepared and make the best costume for your little one that you possibly can, but then let everything else take its course. The teachers will do the rest and you can then just turn up on the day and hope for the best and know that be it Joseph or a cow (!) you’re going to love seeing them on stage doing their performance.

One thing I’ll never forget about my eldest son’s performance, in the nativity and one or two other primary school performances, was his timing. If arms had to be waved in the air, for example, his were always the last ones up there (and the last ones down), while his distinct lack of interest in performing and his reluctance to really get into the part, was plain for all to see. He’d rather have been playing football! I thought it was highly amusing, although I kept that to myself, but I realised that at that age such an attitude isn’t overly important so I didn’t stress about it.

So this year as my 4 year old takes to the stage, I will be as chuffed as every other person in there. No matter what his timing, commitment or believability as a cow (and eventually I’ll get over the cow thing and the world will see the talent his mum sees in him!) I am just going to enjoy the ride, laugh, probably shed a tear and capture every moment on camera to tease him with as a teenager!

Let those parents who want to take it seriously just get on with it and shower your young one(s) with praise after the event no matter what. Then enjoy a glass of something when you get home to celebrate the milestone. After all, it is Christmas!

360 Play looks for new Charity of the Year for 2016

Children’s play centre 360 Play is looking to link up with another local children’s charity for 2016 to help support the chosen organisation over a 12 month period as its ‘official’ Charity for the Year.

 

We are already very active in our local communities, donating over 700 family passes to raffles this year alone. Each year we choose one special children’s charity to become our Charity of the Year and they get our special focus and attention during that period.

360 Play will work with the chosen charity on a variety of fundraising initiatives which could include charity events held by 360 Play itself, with profits going to the supported organisation, the use of the 360 Play premises for a fundraising event and the provision of raffle prizes for further fundraising activities, among others.

 

So, if you are involved in a local charity and would like to register your organisation’s interest in becoming 360 Play’s officially supported charity for 2016, please email communitytickets@360play.co.uk in the first instance, stating the reasons why you feel your charity should be considered and also including a contact name, telephone number and details of fundraising achieve to date. Photographs would also be welcome. The last day for receipt of applications is Friday, December 18th.

Half term already? 5 ways to tackle the Half Term Terror!

Just as we are getting back into the routine after a long summer holiday, half term shows up!

It’s a tricky time for parents with young children, youngsters aren’t quite yet fed up with the school routine and learning and with the nights drawing in and the crisp bite in the air creating a weeks worth of activity can prove challenging.

So here are 5 tips from 360 Play to help you and your children through this half term.

1 – Baby, it’s cold outside!

As the weather starts to turn colder we all tend to stay indoors for longer periods of time. A child’s imagination can only last for so long in the same environment, so take every opportunity to get out and about, even if it’s cold. Wrap up warm and go for a walk, a particular favourite of my family this time of year is leaf jumping! Like puddle jumping but more autumnal.

If it is too cold though you could always come down to 360 Play where we specialise in stimulating young minds with a host of great activities.

2 – They miss their friends.

During the first half of term your youngsters have just rekindled many friendships after the summer holiday, so they’re probably not ready for a break from them yet. Why not invite a friend or two round for a play date? It’s sure to keep them happy and will pass an afternoon or two with no boredom factor.

3 – Eager, bright minds!

Try new things and keep their minds active. Children, especially under 10’s, love to learn. Learning comes in a variety of different formats.

Younger ones will do this through play while older ones will want to challenge themselves in various ways. Why not create a project for them to do? With Halloween coming up they could design their own costumes or masks, or maybe research different pumpkin styles on the computer and then create a pumpkin lantern for real. And of course it’s always fun to make some tasty Halloween themed treats, with lots of easy recipes available on the net.

4 – Time for some new toys?

Most children seem to have an endless supply of toys these days, that’s a given, but it’s been a long time since Christmas, and maybe birthdays too, so they are probably looking for some new things to play with. Charity shops are a good source of supply for some less expensive treats or with a bit of work on the internet, there will be lots of ideas for ‘make your own’ toys too.

5 – Kids like a routine.

At half term children go to bed a little bit later than on a school night but will get up at the usual time as their body clocks are still in school time mode. The days are therefore just as long but with no structure, so try and keep things predictable so they know what to expect, rather than letting the days just drag on with no plan.

Happy half term to all!

Avoiding the morning ‘rush hour’ (that’s the one at home!)

By Mum of 2 and 360 Play member.

As the new term started I began to wonder if I was the only one completely disorganised and late on school mornings, often losing it at certain pressure points. My usual morning script is this – ‘finish your breakfast’, ‘brush your teeth’, ‘stop jumping on your brother and find your socks’ and the worse one of all ‘Get your shoes on we are going to be late!’ Then after finally leaving the house and despatching the children to school I would feel instantly guilty at starting the day this way, promising myself I would find a better way of doing things in the morning!

So I asked the mums at the school gate. They all guiltily confessed to the same raised voice protocol and not really having a plan to combat this pressure. We all agreed there must be a better way. So I started asking around.

I started with my partner in crime, my children’s father, who helpfully stated the obvious ‘These things should not be done minutes before leaving for school but should perhaps be sorted the night before’.  Of course, if only I had thought that! Maybe I should put the kids to bed in their school uniforms dear. He is right, although I hate to admit it; a certain number of things can happen the night before, but short of dressing each child myself, brushing their teeth and spoon feeding in the Cheerios, how do I handle those things that just can-not be prepared?

My mum suggested I get everyone up earlier. No! Modern life is a busy affair and I refuse to sacrifice anymore of my sleep. I have been a mother for 8 years and I still haven’t got used to not having my Sunday morning lie in each week.

So I turned to Google. Google knows everything and I found lots of articles on teaching your children to handle their own time. Really? Can kids do this? I read on and it seems like yes they can. I was dubious but I gave it a try.

Firstly I made 2 charts that super nanny would have been proud of, one for each child, that looked something like this:

  • Have breakfast.
  • Shower
  • Get dressed.
  • Brush teeth and hair.
  • Get book bag, shoes and PE bag.

YOU ARE READY FOR SCHOOL!MorningYawn

I then brought my 7 year old a watch, handed it to him at the breakfast table and said we need to leave at half past 8 and you needed to do everything on your list by then. He can tell the time but I still showed him where the hands need to be.

Then with my 4 year old, I walked him through it, ticking the chart as we went. Amazingly we were all ready by 8:15, shoes on, book bags in hand and not one voice raised. Success! I felt triumphant. I told my mummy friends who all had success using this method too. In fact after a week of walking it through with my littlest man he started to do a lot of it on his own and felt really chuffed with himself. So as the term continues, how is it going now? Mostly great actually. I think I have had to shout the shoe message 3 or 4 times but nothing like before. It really has made a huge difference to our morning routine– and didn’t half help reduce the mummy guilt levels!

360 Play comments: We love this idea. We can see it enables children to grow their confidence through being independent and capable, something which reigns king in our centres and of course anything that makes a happy mum makes a happy child. I’m sure many mums will find this useful.

We should let our children try and fail – they’ll thank us in the long run

We all want our children to succeed and be the best at everything at school, in sport and in all sorts of other activities.

To want the best for our offspring in all aspects of life is only natural and while not everyone is good at everything, there are of course those youngsters who just seem to excel, no matter what it is they do. I remember when I was at school, even from quite a young age, there were those kids who just seemed to be good at whatever they did, be it in lessons, in various sports, in music and more.

But the majority of us as kids aren’t super heroes at everything we try (unless we are playing superheroes of course!), much as we’d like to be, so we have to learn to deal with that. And sometimes we have to learn the hard way, by maybe not being picked for a team, not scoring well in a test or exam, or away from the school environment perhaps not being able to fix something on a bike or a toy or losing at a game.

And it’s just the same for the very youngest of children as it is for older ones. We learn through trial and error, success and failure, no matter what we are doing and at no age is this more apparent than during our formative years. We explore, we ask questions, we try pretty much anything and everything all in the daily process of learning, developing and shaping our character, personality and individuality.

These days parents are often overprotective and go to great lengths to ensure their children, of whatever age, avoid failure. But is this not undermining the development of an independent character that has the strength and wherewithal to stand up to whatever setbacks, disappointments and mistakes they may come up against in life?

No-one intends to teach their children to be fearful of failure, but we do it more and more these days. We therefore need to let them take more risks, to try things from the off and to encourage them if and when they fail. They’ll be stronger for it and more confident, competent and resourceful later in life.