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.

Mid Week Madness – Play and Eat

Starting on Wednesday 2nd December, you can pay an extra £1.25 on the entry price to get any child’s meal included.

That’s £8.20 for a 1-3 year old or £10.50 for a 4-12 year old, during the day.

After school prices are £5.50 (1-3 years) and £6.80 (4-12 years).

Play Pass holders pay £1.25 to get the offer.

So why not stay and play all day!

This offer is on Wednesdays and Thursdays in term time only, until the end of the local Spring term.

Available in Leicester, Milton Keynes and Stevenage.

Great value partnership offers for visitors to the new 360 Play Basildon

We’re getting very excited about 360 Play’s brand new children’s entertainment centre at Festival Leisure Park in Basildon, which is set to open to the public on Monday, November 16th. And to help with the launch celebrations, we’ve teamed up with other businesses on the site to bring some great money saving offers to families planning a visit.

For anyone wanting to make a short break of a visit to our latest venue, we’ve arranged a very special offer with the Holiday Inn, which is situated right next to 360 Play. The hotel is offering a family room plus entrance to 360 Play (for two adults and two children) for just £73, including breakfast, a great saving on the hotel’s standard rates but an even more value-packed offer with entry to our attraction too.

Additionally, 360 Play Basildon has come together with the Fitness First outlet on the leisure park to offer all visitors a free session at the gym, which is also just a short walk away. Visitors will be able to sample all the excellent Fitness First facilities which include the latest gym equipment.

We already offer a real value-for-money experience for visitors to 360 Play with the opportunity for guests to stay as long as they want, free parking right outside our door and much more. But being able to link our offer with other businesses on the leisure park to create additional benefits for families is a great move for everyone and we are sure lots of visitors will take advantage of these special deals.

As is the case at our other three centres, all the facilities a family needs for a great day out –whatever the weather – are provided at 360 Play Basildon, including some new ones, and we are really looking forward to opening what will be our largest venue to date. We hope to see you there and look forward to hearing what you think.

Extending the 360 Play family – to Basildon

It’s exciting times here at 360 Play Towers! Not only are our three existing centres continuing to keep us all busy but our fourth centre will be opening very soon at Festival Leisure Park, Basildon, Essex – and we just can’t wait!

360 Play Basildon will be our largest site to date with 28,000 square feet of fun, active and creative play opportunities for young children and their families to enjoy. It’s all spread over two floors and in this latest venue there’s a host of new ideas and attractions for visitors to sample, as well as the tried and tested ones that have proved so popular over the years at our other three centres.

Of course a new centre means a whole new team of staff to extend the 360 Play family to another part of the UK. So it’s a very warm welcome to the fold to our new managers Paul and Ricky who will lead the team at Basildon and who are currently busy with other senior members of staff training our latest recruits on how to provide the best possible service and experience to our visitors.

360 Play is a family owned business and with two young children of his own our MD knows a thing or two about what makes a good day out with youngsters. In fact we all do, which is why 360 Play has become renowned over the years for just that. Our new Basildon centre has been carefully planned and designed to take the brand and the concept behind it to another level and we’re very excited about the opening and really looking forward to seeing visitors’ reactions to what we’ve created.

And it’s even more gratifying to know that we are a key element of the redevelopment of the Festival Leisure Park by the landlords who are making every effort to create a much more family-friendly site with a variety of new openings and tenants. If you live in the Basildon area, or anywhere else for that matter, a warm welcome awaits when we open to the public on November 16th. Why not ‘come on down’ and give it a try – you won’t be disappointed.

Halloween Fun

We are all about children experiencing a safe fun and family friendly Halloween. Here are our top tips for making Halloween fun and NOT scary.

1 – Let your children dress up in a Halloween fancy dress costume of their choice to set the tone for the evening.

2 – Involve youngsters in pumpkin carving and tell them the story of why pumpkins are used in this way at Halloween. (Do you know why? You can easily find out on the internet, both the real reason and some great mythical stories too, which the kids will love).

3 – Use fun words for games. Dipping your hand in sawdust to retrieve sweets could be turned into dipping your hand in witches’ warts to retrieve treasure. Yuk!

4 – If you let your children go trick or treating, only go to the homes of people you know and ask them to put a pumpkin on their doorstep so young ones get used to only visiting people they know.

5 – Remember, Halloween can be a really positive and fun community event. Attend local, well organised Halloween events and take the stress out of your Halloween. You’ll enjoy it much more and be able to really get into it with the kids so all the family have a great time.

The 360 Play Halloween Spooktacular takes place on Saturday, October 31st, from 6.00pm to 8.30pm. It’s a ticketed event and is a fun, friendly, family Halloween Party suitable for all children with games, party dancing, fancy dress and safe trick or treating. More details can be found at

www.360play.co.uk/events-2/