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.


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.

Meet up Mondays

For parents of pre-school children looking for somewhere to take their youngsters on a Monday morning, 360 Play is delighted to announce the launch of Meet up Mondays!

Meet up Monday’s is a time for parents to bring their toddlers down to the centre, meet other parents, and make friends whilst combining some great toddler developmental opportunities with a couple of equally great FREE offers.

As stated by the experts and outlined in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)  toddlers need positive relationships and enabling environments to enhance their development.

All our toddler areas are designed so that mums and dads can join in too, another key aspect of child development, while we also ensure peace of mind with a safe, clean environment by sterilising our toddler areas each night which makes 360 Play an enabling environment with lots of opportunity to reinforce those positive relationships.

Mums and dads can often find themselves on their own with very young children, particularly at the beginning of a week, so we have created an ideal opportunity to meet up with friends and make new ones at 360 Play, as well as providing pre-schoolers with a place to help further their physical, mental, social and emotional development.

And for those attending these special sessions, our offer includes a FREE hot drink for adults and a FREE art class for the youngsters.

The Meet up Monday sessions will run from 10am to 12pm every Monday throughout September as well as during the first half of October, finishing on Monday, October 19th.

So why not take advantage of this wonderful new opportunity and bring your pre-schoolers to 360 Play on a Monday morning?

Back to school in eight easy steps

It’s always a bit of a downer when the holidays end. After the freedom and enjoyment of the summer holidays, when school was a distant memory for most children, it’s often difficult to get them back into the ‘school’ way of thinking and the necessary routine this inevitably involves.

Hopefully you will have had lots of fun, imaginative, outdoor play, lots of family time together and a family holiday, either here in the UK or to warmer climes overseas.

But now it’s time to get back to the routine. When the new term begins it can be a challenging time for many reasons for both children and parents, so here are a few ideas to get the youngsters into the right frame of mind and to ease them from holiday mode back into school mode.

Tip 1:

Reconnect with school friends

Often, for younger children in particular, they’ve spent time with family and family friends during the holidays so a few play dates with friends from school are always a good way to kick off the school mindset.

Tip 2:

Talk about school

Start talking about school to see how the children are feeling about going back. Highlight any exciting things to look forward during the coming year – Christmas plays, school discos, sports teams and so on – and tease out any anxieties or worries they may have.

Tip 3:

Reset the family’s body clock

Bed times and getting up times are always more lax during the holidays, so start bringing them more into line with the normal term times. Children – and mums and dads too – will need to get back in the routine so everyone gets the sleep they need – and gets up on time in the morning!

Young girl in front hallway fixing shoe and smiling

Tip 4:

Shop for school uniform

Involve the kids in shopping for their school uniform to get them further into ‘school mode.’ Obviously this isn’t a highlight for them but make it more acceptable by allowing them a choice in shoes or T-shirts within the realms of what is affordable for you and acceptable dress code for the school. And maybe let them have the latest or coolest back pack or lunch box as a bit of a ‘back to school’ treat if budgets allow.

Tip 5:

The big bedroom tidy up

During the summer holidays there will have been lots of opportunities to get out all the toys, including those long forgotten treasures hidden at the bottom of the toy box. Why not spend a day having a good sort out, getting rid of what is no longer used. This will help create a calm, organised environment when school starts and give children the satisfaction of achieving something positive.

Tip 6:

Create an Achievement Tree

This is a quick summer art project that can serve an important purpose all year long! Plus it puts a positive focus onto the academic year ahead.

Draw a tree with lots of brown branches on poster board and create a handful of ‘leaves’ on strips of green paper. Each time your child accomplishes something he or she is proud of they can record it on a leaf and tape it to the tree. By the end of the school year, they will have created a full, lush tree!

Tip 7:

Keep playing outdoors once term time has begun

Outdoor play is a key element of the summer holidays so while the weather is still warm enough, encourage your children to keep on playing outdoors when they get home after school. It will be another way to help ease the transition from holidays into school time at the start of term by still providing them with something they loved to do during the holidays. And why not invite a couple of school friends to join in.

Tip 8:

Stay connected

The beginning of the school year naturally brings with it a host of related activities, including homework, music classes, swimming lessons, PE and games, and much more.

With so much going on it’s important to make some one-on-one time with your child each day. It’s tricky to fit in, but a little goes a long way so try an extra story for toddlers, making up stories at bedtime for pre-schoolers or perhaps gazing at the stars with older children when their younger siblings are in bed. They will all definitely savour such precious time each day and everyone will benefit from simply making the effort at the end of the day for a bit of quite time.

Are you ‘stay-cationing’ this summer?

Most people have experienced a summer holiday in the UK. I particularly treasure the memories of my childhood on a beautiful Cornish beach, diving in the freezing Atlantic and playing jump the waves and then being harshly rubbed dry by my mum and hiding behind the wind breakers with a hot pasty to warm up! Ah, great times.

And I still love holidaying in the UK. Okay, the weather can be unpredictable at times which of course is the big downside, but when it’s good there is really no place I’d rather be. Beautiful countryside, stunning beaches, historic towns and villages, ancient castles, fabulous walks and simply loads of visitor attractions of all descriptions to go to make it a compelling place to spend a holiday, without the many hassles often involved with travelling abroad.

When the weather here plays ball it lifts everyone’s spirits, makes us smile and we simply delight in the fact that it’s a beautiful day in the UK. That doesn’t necessarily happen in a resort somewhere abroad. And it’s never been easier to holiday at home either. Hotels are less formal and welcome families more readily, the standard of accommodation is higher and the choice is wider. Food is much improved, there is again a wider choice and places cater much better for families with children.

So even though there’s a chance of rain one minute, wind the next but also, hopefully, some sun just around the corner, a ‘staycation’ can still be a hugely rewarding, relaxing and fun time for all the family – with special memories to take home too!

Why not tweet us with your favourite childhood summer holiday memories or your plans for your staycation this summer. @360play followed by MK, ST or LE depending on your nearest centre. #staycation

That’s The Twitter Ticket!

Let’s solve your summer holiday boredom. We have 10 family day passes to giveaway!

Just tweet your answer to the following question with the #summerfun and tag us in @360playMK for Milton Keynes @360playST for Stevenage and @360playLE  for Leicester- depending on your nearest centre.

We will pick 10 people at random on Friday 14th August at 5pm. (terms and conditions apply )

Q: What’s the best thing at 360 Play?

You may want to check out the facilities section if you’re new to us! If you’ve been before we would love to see a picture of your favourite thing to do.

Good Luck!

Terms and conditions

Winners will be selected at random by 14th August. Tickets will be valid until 1st September and will be for 4 people, one must be an adult. Tickets cannot be exchanged and have no monetary value. New members will be asked to register and any additional persons will be charged at normal rate. For more information about our pricing please go to www.360play.co.uk/plan-visit/opening-times-prices

Ahh it’s the summer holidays… Ahhh it’s raining!

In a TV advertising campaign which ran earlier this year, VisitEngland recruited Shaun the Sheep and his pals to help promote holidays in England. I guess now they’ll be hoping that people are ‘flocking’ to holiday destinations around the country (sorry, couldn’t resist that!)

Baa-ring (oops, sorry again!) the unpredictable weather, England and the rest of the UK is a wonderful place to go on holiday with plenty of things to do and places to visit for all the family. And it provides a fabulous opportunity for families to spend some quality time together on home soil too.

Inevitably the weather is always the big concern during the summer holidays and when holidaying at home and judging from the very mixed conditions we’ve seen so far this year most of us will experience some wind and rain at some point and probably quite often. But it’s not the end of the world if we are either at home or on holiday somewhere as there are still lots of activities to enjoy even when things get a bit cold and damp.

Hotels and other types of accommodation offer swimming pools, games rooms, gyms and other activities which come into their own on bad weather days, while this summer’s new cinema releases will also keep staycationers happy with films like Inside Out, Ant-Man, Mission: Impossible – Rouge Nation and more coming up to provide some big screen entertainment.

Hundreds of attractions also cater well for wet days, so places like historic houses, museums and of course children’s play centres like us can come into their own when the weather is poor. It’s really just a case of seeking out things to do and places to go, which isn’t that hard in this age of the internet.

Activities back at home can also keep youngsters entertained over the long holiday period. We at 360 Play love ‘free play’ so spending time making Indoor dens doing messy play activities, games and sleep overs with friends will all help keep children occupied and happy – meaning mum and dad will be happy too.

So as Shaun might say, here’s to a baa-rilliant (?) time this summer holiday – whatever the weather!

3 ways to play this summer

3 ways to play… and save this summer

£20 Family Day Ticket

£55 3 Month Pass

£125 Annual Play Pass

These fantastic offers can all be purchased here.

Just click on the image below to take you to the online form.


3 ways online form


Play and stay all day this summer!

3 ways to entertain your kids during the summer holidays

Here at 360 Play we’ve been entertaining young children for a long time and we reckon we’re pretty good at it – in fact very good at it! As experts in children’s play and entertainment, therefore, we thought we’d share our Top 3 ways to entertain youngsters during the long six week holiday, to help keep the boredom levels down to 0.

‘Freedom to play’ day

There’s a lot to be said for days out to local attractions – 360 Play is a great example – but you can’t go out every day. However, we often see in our centres the joy on children’s faces when they are allowed to roam around on their own or with friends, with no restrictions, no electronics and few rules.

So why not ‘keep out of the way and let the children play.’ Maybe set up a few activities around the house and garden and leave the youngsters to enjoy them, explore them and even make some mess (like we do in our messy play sessions at 360 Play). You can always do a clean-up game at the end of the day. Or take them out for some free play in the park, in the woods, at a friend’s house or in lots of other places.

Treasure hunt

These aren’t difficult to set up and they don’t have to be complicated, but with a little thought, time and effort they can keep kids occupied for ages and really are good fun. And when they’ve done their hunt, turn it all around and get them to do one for you to keep them occupied for even longer.

Project day

Last but not least, why not have a project day each week? Think about six projects the kids could do and set a day each week for them to do these. It could be anything from making something or planting veggies in the garden to a cookery session or helping with things around the house. It’s something that can benefit everyone involved, creates a sense of achievement and can help while away many an hour.

We hope our ideas inspire some fun activities – and help achieve a 0 boredom holiday time!

360 Play – experts in child development through play!