Author Archives: admin

Play Principles launched at Toy Fair 2015

Play Principles launched at Toy Fair call for political focus on the importance of play for child development


Today at the London Toy Fair the Make Time 2 Play campaign launched five play principles to ask politicians, in the lead up to the elections, to consider the importance of play for the healthy development of children.

Make Time 2 PlayThe Make Time 2 Play Principles express the value of play across the policy landscape:

  1. Every child needs space and time to play
  2. Active play can help children keep healthy
  3. Play-based learning adds educational opportunities at all ages
  4. Safe places to play are good for families and good for communities
  5. Children develop important life skills through play


Natasha Crookes, Director of Communication for the British Toy & Hobby Association, that runs the campaign, commented, “You can see the fun and enjoyment that children get from play and that should be the key driver for encouraging playtime. However behind all that fun children are developing the skills they will need for life. We are asking today that the political parties affirm the importance of play in the social fabric of family lives and the role that it has in getting children fit, aiding in education and making sure that there is time and place for play in our busy modern lives”.

Play is widely accepted to have huge value in developing children’s social skills, fitness levels, communication skills, creativity and imagination as well as teaching children about boundaries and risk.

The ‘Make Time 2 Play’ campaign highlights the importance of play in children’s lives, giving parents free play ideas that can be easily slotted in to busy schedules. The messages are promoted using primary research from academics and parents, free adverts donated by children’s broadcasters, and through a website, social media and free ‘play ideas’ app. For more information visit the new website –

The play principles were launched today at the London Toy Fair which takes place from 20-22 January 2015. To register for a media pass visit

Notes to editors

For more information contact…

Until 19th January
Jess Cowan –, 020 3128 8170 at MHP Communications

20th – 22nd January
Onsite Press Office – 020 7598 6518


We all know how important play is to a child’s development. Our mission is to help you with ideas and inspiration to get your children playing. Our maketime2play facebook page, app and website are updated regularly with play activities for kids that encourage imaginative and exploratory play. We want to enable you to use toys and playtime to build your child’s self-esteem, their sense of wonder and to help them understand the world around them. Every time you make time to play with your children you are encouraging them to grow up happy and healthy. That’s enough talking – let’s get playing.

Beat children’s body image issues through play, says new report

Active play gives less sporty children the confidence to beat anxieties, claims Make Time 2 Play ambassador Dr Linda Papadopoulos

Make Time 2 PlayWith children as young as five expressing concerns about the way they look, parents, schools and policy makers must work together to improve children’s body image issues, says counselling psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos in a new report written by the Make Time 2 Play campaign ( A year on from the Olympics the sporting legacy promised will no doubt be examined across the country. However with body confidence issues on the increase Dr Linda Papadopoulos examines how play can be just as important as sport in getting children to participate in physical activity.

The report, entitled Physical Activity and Body Image in Children, says that children who have body confidence concerns are more likely to be anxious about taking part in formal sports. However, parents who engage their children in regular physical activity, such as active play, from an early age, help them to develop increased self-esteem and emotional resilience. Both of these are important factors in developing a better body image and making children better able to cope with external messages about body image as they grow up.

An integral part of the Make Time 2 Play campaign is its belief that play is vitally important not just to children’s physical development but to their emotional well-being as well. In taking pride in what their bodies can achieve, children see their bodies as functional rather than aesthetic, allaying anxieties about the way their bodies look.

Children who are resistant to organised sporting activities should not forgo exercise, says Dr Papadopoulos. Active play provides the same benefits of sports in a less structured, more enjoyable setting, giving less sporty children a chance to participate.

The report examines the rise in negative body image among children, citing recent studies that found one in four 7 year old girls have tried to lose weight at least once and that one third of young boys aged 8-12 are dieting to lose weight. Dr Papadopoulos suggests ways in which children’s body image issues can be resolved through active play, with some tips for introducing active play at an early age, to help prevent body image issues from arising: “It’s important to model appropriate behaviour. If your children see you being active, and having fun, then they are more likely to develop a positive outlook on physical activity.”

“For those that shy away from sport there are lots of other activities that can get children active without engaging in traditional team sports. Building a den, going on a nature trail or treasure hunt, play tag or ‘it’,” Dr Papadopoulos continues. “These can be great starter activities to get children active before leading on to more gentle sports style activity like rounders or playing with a ball. The key thing is to keep it fun.”

Dr Papadopoulos has written extensively on how to transform negative body image into positive self-esteem. For a copy of the report, Physical Activity and Body Image in Children, visit

To help parents to understand the benefits of play and to provide ideas to engage children in play, visit the Make Time 2 Play campaign Facebook page at and download the free Make Time 2 Play app with hundreds of play ideas.



Make Time 2 PlayParents should try and step out of their comfort zone to strike the right balance between safety and encouraging children to play outdoors, says Make Time 2 Play Ambassador Dr Linda Papadopoulos

Wednesday 12 June: Nearly two thirds of parents (62.7%) feel there are greater dangers for children playing outside now than when they were children, according to a study of 2,000 parents surveyed by OnePoll.com1 on behalf of the Make Time 2 Play campaign.

Increase in traffic was cited as the primary issue causing parents concern, closely followed by the danger posed by strangers. Parents in the East Midlands are the most laid back, those in Northern Ireland the most protective and mums worry more than dads.

The top five concerns2 for parents were:

1. Increase in traffic 56.85%
2. Stranger danger 55.15%
3. Inability to monitor children’s activities 38.95%
4. Getting involved in or being confronted by gangs 38.65%
5. Outdoor play prevents children from studying 18.65%


These factors contribute to children playing outside less often than their parents did: only 14.85% of all parents in the study say their children play outside more than they did. One third (33.65%) thinks the amount is roughly the same.

The belief that today’s children enjoy less outdoor play increases with older parents. Over a third (33.68%) of parents aged 18-24 said their children play outside more than they did compared to less than one in 10 (8.33%) of parents aged 55 and over.

With the longer daylight hours and summer holidays on the horizon, however, this is the time of year when there are greater opportunities for children to get outside and play and, according to Dr Linda Papadopoulos, Ambassador to Make Time 2 Play, outdoor play is one essential ingredient in a varied play ‘diet’ for children.

“Just as we talk of the importance of having your five fruit or vegetables a day for a healthy diet, so children need a varied play diet,” commented Dr Papadopoulos.

“A varied play diet encompasses structured, unstructured, supervised and unsupervised playtime. Outdoor play is a vital component of that, helping children to build friendships, solve problems and explore the world around them.”

The study demonstrated that parents are, on the whole, aware that their children need time outdoors, with 38.5% concerned that their children do not play outside enough. The majority of those surveyed showed concern that lack of outdoor play may mean that children do not learn about risk awareness (55.4%) and could hinder their development of social and communication skills (54.45%). Over a third of parents (38.5%) are concerned their children don’t spend enough time playing outside yet, on average, children are playing outside three days a week at this time of year.

Different regions of the UK responded differently. In Northern Ireland, parents tended to be more concerned with risk factors and take proactive steps to minimise them. East Midlands parents took a more laissez-faire approach. For example, teaching children road safety is considered most important in Northern Ireland (94.44% important or very important) and least important in the East Midlands (74.29% important or very important). And mums think this is more important more than dads (84.77% of mums across the country think the Green Cross Code important, as against 72.16% of dads – and this difference between the sexes was reflected in other parts of the survey.)

Despite the fears named above, what actually keeps children indoors in practice is – for 48.5% of all parents – our British weather. Just remember when it comes to play there is no such thing as the wrong weather – just the wrong clothes!

Dr Papadopoulos agrees it is difficult to find a balance between keeping children safe and giving them the freedom they need for healthy independent play, but that it’s important for parents to try to accept and to confront their fears and, at times, risk leaving their comfort zones.
“Parents do lots of great things with their children,” said Dr Papadopoulos, “but it’s also vitally important for their development that they are allowed to run around with their friends outside on a regular basis.”

Under Doctor’s Orders



Make Time 2 PlayThe Make Time 2 Play campaign has appointed Dr Linda Papadopoulos as Ambassador to help spearhead its work throughout the year. Dr Papadopoulos is a respected and popular counselling psychologist known for her work on children’s issues and the effects of media and societal change on children’s social and emotional development.

The Make Time 2 Play campaign is a long-standing initiative run by the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) to encourage parents to ring-fence time within children’s busy lives for play time and to understand the vital role play has in developing healthy childhoods.

“As a parent as well as a psychologist, I recognise the time pressures that are on both parents and children. Sometimes, in our attempt to create fulfilled and rewarding childhoods for our children, we can overlook that basic ingredient for a happy child: play,” commented Dr Papadopoulos.

“Children need space and time to work through the life skills they are developing every day, and play enables this. But also, like all of us, children sometimes just need a break, so I’m completely supportive of the Make Time 2 Play campaign and what it stands for and I look forward to exploring different themes over the coming year, ” she continued.

Natasha Crookes from the BTHA commented: “We are delighted to have Dr Papadopoulos join us on our campaign. Although the basic argument is a simple one, there are a number of more complex issues that arise when discussing play and we’re confident that we have an ambassador that can help us discuss those issues in depth but with the clarity of vision that she brings to all of the issues that she tackles.”


Further details on Make Time 2 Play and its objectives can be found at and on the campaign’s Facebook page. You can also download the app, which is free of charge, and holds hundreds of play ideas for children of all ages.




Make Time 2 PlayMake Time To Play app has hundreds of ideas to keep children occupied over the holiday.

Stuck for new ideas to keep the children busy over the February half-term holiday? The Make Time To Play campaign offers some great free and low-cost play ideas to engage children both indoors and outside. Make Time To Play promotes the value of play as an essential part of a child’s healthy development, through its website at and its free-of-charge mobile app which has a different play idea for every single day of the year, suitable for children of all ages.

With the weather so unpredictable it can be difficult to fill the days with a varied diet of play, whether you have just half an hour to spare or the whole day is stretching out before you.

Here are some tips from Make Time To Play for keeping children occupied over February half-term:

If you have some leftover wallpaper lining paper from your last bout of redecorating, unroll a long sheet and tape to the floor – preferably a hard floor rather than carpet. Then get out all the crayons and felt-tips and let the children loose creating a collaborative artwork or their own individual areas of the sheet. You can set a theme if they need inspiration. Results can be displayed as a mural.

A full-blown treasure hunt requires a bit of forward-planning with clues, but you can make it less labour-intensive for the adults by making it more like a paper chase.

Hide a few objects – 10-12 is probably about right – in your garden, or in the local park, or if the weather is awful and you’re not houseproud, at home. (Don’t hide anything valuable.) Give the players a list of the objects hidden and set them off looking for them. Whoever finds the most wins a prize or perhaps just hot drinks all round at the end.

If you’re prepared to supervise, you can make your own volcano – and give the children an impromptu chemistry lesson at the same time. The most basic recipe for a home-made volcano is to put some baking soda (not baking powder) into a container with a narrow neck. Then add vinegar and watch the reaction of this with the baking soda.

Once you’ve seen how it works, you can get the children to create their own volcanic mountain using dough, modelling clay or cardboard for even more realistic eruptions.

The volcano may not be edible, but simple recipes can be put together under adult supervision. Snowy Crispies, take the standard Choc Crispies idea (melted plain or milk chocolate mixed with crispie cereal) but add a twist by using white chocolate instead of dark. Dust with icing sugar for an extra snowy look, and for even more pizzazz, sprinkle with edible glitter.


Make Time To Play has many more inspirational ideas for engaging children, and not just over half-term holidays. Suggestions on the website and the Make Time To Play app cover all weather conditions, for both indoor and outdoor settings. The app, for both iOS and Android, is ideal for those times when parents need a fresh response to ‘But what can I do now?’ or “I’m bored mum!”

“A whole week of half-term can be challenging to fill without spending money on expensive outings,” says Natasha Crookes, director of communications for the British Toy and Hobby Association, the people behind the campaign. “The Make Time To Play app gives parents a valuable source of ideas to help them try out some different activities, whether they have just five minutes, or five hours, to fill.”

Not only does play keep children occupied but it also helps them to learn about the world around them, test boundaries and develop the physical and mental skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.

For these and other ideas for playing over February half-term, download the app, or visit Make Time 2 Play’s Facebook page, and join in the discussion. Further details on the campaign and its objectives can be found at