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Category Archives: Recreation


Schools see the benefits of outdoor learning

An increasing number of schools are incorporating outdoor learning into their curriculum in an attempt to allow children to make the most of their school days.

This approach is growing in popularity and is widely believed to have a beneficial impact on youngsters. American company Hatch, which produces technology and classroom supplies, has stressed the importance of teaching in the open air.

Ginny Norton, Hatch president, commented: “Outdoor classrooms present unlimited opportunities to create sensory-rich learning experiences for children with special needs.”

The company pointed to the experiences of special education teachers in Canada and the US, who have found outdoor learning helps develop communication in nonverbal youngsters and children who suffer from autism.

Its not only in the US where schools are embracing this new approach to teaching though, as its increasingly common here in the UK as well.

Last month, a school in the West Midlands town of Oldbury was praised by Ofsted for its “inspirational” outdoor lessons, Halesowen News reports.

The Meadows Sport College has developed a number of outdoor classrooms over the past few years and they have been described by the education watchdog as “spectacular”.

“Students gaze with amazement at the water features and colourful bushes; their curiosity is aroused by a fascinating range of sounds as they learn in the school’s beautiful sensory gardens,” the Ofsted inspection stated.

Abbots Langley Primary School in Hertfordshire has also embraced the benefits of outdoor learning.

According to the Watford Observer, a garden has been created at the school to encourage children to understand the importance of health eating and develop an interest in the natural world.

Jane Sibbot of the school’s gardening team stated: “We wanted something visual and hands on. It’s nice that the children can see where our food comes from.”

To create the best outdoor learning environment possible many schools are opting to install shade sails to provide shelter from the elements. If you think your school could benefit from a shade, click here to find out more.

Some reasons to encourage outdoor play

Getting the kids to play outside can be surprisingly difficult these days. Through a combination of computer games, the internet and TV, it’s easy for them to spend a whole day with their eyes fixed on a screen of some sort.

However, encouraging them to spend some time outdoors is important, as it can be beneficial on a number of different levels.

Exercise

A week doesn’t seem to go by these days without some sort of warning about the number of children in the UK who are overweight. Outdoor play is one of the best ways to ensure this doesn’t become a problem for your child.

Moving around burns off calories and this will help make sure your kid’s weight remains at a health level. Furthermore by encouraging children to be active from a young age you increase the chances of them exercising regularly in later life.

Other health benefits

There are several other health advantages that result from outdoor play. Getting away from the screen is good for kid’s eyes and is a fantastic way to use pent-up energy that could lead to a child being disruptive if stuck indoors all day.

Furthermore, exposure to the sun is vital as a source of vitamin D, although you should always take precautions against sunburn on a warm day – installing a garden shade sail is a great way to do this.

Understanding the environment

By getting your children to play outside, you can increase their awareness and appreciation of the environment. This could be important in later life as it will ensure they treat the outdoors with the respect it deserves and will encourage their own kids to do the same.

Get involved

One of the best things about outdoor play is that it’s incredibly easy for Mum and Dad to get involved as well. Spending quality time with your kids is the best part of being a parent and there’s all sorts of different activities you can get up to in the open air.

Gardening is elderly Brits favourite pastime

We love spending a bit of time out in the garden here at Shaded Nation and it seems we’re not alone.

Gardening has been voted the favourite pass time of the UK’s elderly residents in a survey by charity organisation Age UK.

To mark the start of its Living Your Way campaign, which aims to help older individuals stay independent for as long as possible, it carried out a poll of people aged 65 and over to find out about the activities that give them the greatest pleasure.

If found over a third of respondents (38 per cent) rate gardening as the thing they like to do most, which is more than any other pastime. Going on walks (28 per cent) was also rated highly as was reading the newspaper (25 per cent).

For those respondents aged 85 or more the results were slightly different, with listening to the radio the number one pleasure for 29 per cent. Gardening was still popular however, with 26 per cent of people saying they still enjoy a good potter.

Michelle Mitchell, Age UK charity director general, commented: “Having a positive attitude and being able to enjoy the little pleasures in life is really important for our well-being.

“Whether it’s enjoying being outdoors in the garden or listening to all that is on offer through the radio, we want to help people to stay independent for as long as possible so they can make the most out of later life.”

It’s clear that the UK’s elderly residents love to spend time in the garden and this experience can be enhanced by installing a shade sail. These canopies provide a nice shaded spot in which to relax and enjoy the beauty of the garden and offer protection from sunburn as well.

They are also an excellent addition to a care home, where having access to outside spaces such as gardens is important for the well-being of residents.

Make sure your barbie is a safe one

There’s nothing quite like having a barbecue on a warm summer’s day.

Indeed, if the sun starts shining it’s only a matter of time before budding chefs dust off their aprons and fire up the coals all across the nation.

However, there are a few safety precautions that should be taken onboard if your BBQ is going to go down smoothly.

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service has recently pledged its support to a national campaign that aims to raise awareness about the potentially harmful fumes BBQs can give off.

Last year, seven people died in the UK as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning and 17 have been injured. These incidents were all caused by bringing a barbecue inside a tent, caravan or motorhome.

Roy Hocking, station manager at the Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service, commented: “Barbecues produce carbon monoxide, which is a highly-poisonous substance.

“These tragic deaths and injuries happened after people took barbecues into enclosed spaces after they’d finished cooking on them. They were overcome by carbon monoxide because there was not enough fresh air.”

While this warning is aimed towards holidaymakers, it is important for anyone who is considering having a BBQ to be aware of the potential risks and its advisable not to take a barbeque into the house as well.

Carbon monoxide is especially dangerous as it cannot be seen, tasted or smelt, meaning it can kill quickly and without warning.

Mr Hocking said BBQs will continue to give off fumes for a few hours after being used, so they should always be left outside during this period. Furthermore, it should be kept a decent distance away from your tent, caravan or house at all times.

Another threat people should be aware of when enjoying a barbie is sunburn. It’s easy to forget about the effects of the sun while you’re enjoying tasty food and good company in the open air, but if you fail to protect yourself you may discover a painful reminder in the shape of red, burned skin a few hours later.

An easy way to stay safe is by eating your food in the shade provided by a garden shade sail. Take a look at our online store to learn more.

Three ways to improve your garden

For those of us who are are lucky enough to have a garden, it’s important to make the most of it.

Having your own outdoor space in which you can relax in private is a luxury that shouldn’t be taken for granted and it’s a shame many people let their garden go to waste.

Perhaps you have a garden, but don’t really think it is nice enough to warrant spending time in. Well, this can easily be remedied, as by making just a few small changes you can transform your outdoor space into an environment where you’ll happily while an afternoon away. Here are three of our top tips on how to do this.

Go wild

If you’re fond of animals and wildlife why not try and make your garden a haven for nature. This is much easier than you might think and even inner-city gardens can attract a whole host of animals ranging from insects and birds to foxes and hedgehogs.

Birds are easy to attract by putting up feeders and nest boxes, while other animals can be attracted by making your garden as natural as possible with plants taking precedent over gravel and concrete.

Be cool in the shade

Having a nice spot in which you can sit and relax is key if you’re going to make the most of your garden and a shade sail can help you do just that. One of our garden canopies is ideal for creating a space where you enjoy being out in the open air, while staying protected from the sun and the elements at all times.

Add water

There’s something a little bit therapeutic about water and it can really enhance your garden. Whether it’s a pond a fountain or some other sort of feature, adding water can turn a nice garden into a great one and you’ll be much more inclined to spend some time outside.

Ponds are particularly useful as they are also good for wildlife such as frogs, newts and much more.

Five ways to get the kids away from the TV and active outdoors

Dragging the kids away from their television, games console or computer can feel like an uphill struggle.

However, it’s important not to give in, as getting them to be active outdoors is vital for both physical and mental wellbeing. While the kids might be resistant at first, they normally end up having a great time once you’ve managed to get them up and out the door.

Here are five ways you can take your little ones away from the screen and into the open air.

Go for a bike ride 

When it comes to family activities, cycling ticks all the boxes. It’s healthy, good for the environment and everyone can join in. If you’ve got very young children why not start teaching them how to write a bike?

A game of footy

There are football-mad kids all across the country and if your youngsters love the beautiful game, why not take them for a kick around? While children might enjoy playing football-based computer games or watching matches on TV, there’s nothing quite as much fun as playing the game itself.

Go natural

Nature is all around us regardless of where you live and getting kids interested in the environment is crucial if we are to preserve the planet’s natural beauty. Simple things like feeding the ducks at the park or hunting for insects in the garden can be great fun for young children.

Take a dip in the pool

Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise and being comfortable in the water is a handy skill for later life. Don’t worry, if you can’t get to a swimming baths, setting up a paddling pool in the garden can still be great fun.

Get out in the garden

If you’ve got a garden you should make the most of it. There are all sorts of activities kids can get up to out there, ranging from building a den to making a daisy chain, and being in the open air will help to keep them happy and healthy.

Whenever you children play outside it’s important to make sure they are safe from the sun, a shade sail is the ideal way to do this.

Five ways to spend a summer bank-holiday weekend

There’s nothing quite like a summer bank holiday weekend. Having three whole days without work is the perfect chance to rest and recharge your batteries – and if the sun is shining it’s all the better.

Here are Shaded Nation’s top five tips for how to spend your time off.

Head to the country 

There a few things better than being in the countryside when the sun is shining. Whether it’s going for a walk, taking a bike ride or enjoying a spot of food and drink in a country pub, leaving the city and experiencing a bit of greenery is always worthwhile.

Hit the beach 

Perhaps the best thing about living on an island is the fact you’re never more than an hour or two’s drive away from the beach. From Blackpool to Brighton, the UK is blessed with a number of excellent seaside spots and these destinations are always popular when it comes to a bank holiday get aways.

Fire up the barbie

If you’d rather stay a little closer to home, why not invite friends and family over for a BBQ. Sharing a spot of home-cooked food with the people closest to you is a great way to spend a day and it can be inexpensive too if everyone chips in to pay for supplies.

Get active 

If you’re a sporty type, a bank holiday weekend is the ideal way to do something active and ensure you stay in good shape. It can be a struggle to find the time and energy to exercise during the working week, but with three days off this is the perfect time to get outside and get moving.

Sit back and relax

Does spending the weekend being active sound far too much like hard work? If so, why not do the exact opposite and make the most of the opportunity to spend some time doing absolutely nothing? We all need a little time to rest and recuperate and a bank holiday is one the best chances you will get.

However you spend your three days off, it’s important to stay safe in the sun. Click here to learn more.

Why schools should use a shade sail

Here at Shaded Nation we regularly provide shade sails for schools and nurseries across the UK and beyond.

These stylish and durable sun canopies have a number of potential functions and can help schools make the most of the resources they have available. How do our clients use our shades? Read on to find out.

Outdoor learning 

More and more schools are waking up to the advantages of outdoor play. Giving kids the chance to learn outdoors is a welcome change from the classroom and is widely recognised as beneficial for their education.

Earlier this year, Sue Waite of the Economic and Social Research Council stated: “Outdoor spaces offer opportunities for children to be more creative, inquiring and socially skilled, as they can pursue their own lines of interest and talk together.”

Classroom expansion 

Need to expand one of your classrooms but lack the necessary funds? A shade sail canopy is an ideal solution. These structures are inexpensive and can easily be installed to the side of a building, thus creating additional space in which teaching can take place.

There are a number of potential uses for outdoor classroom ranging from a traditional environment with tables and chairs to an open area in which subjects like drama and music can be taught.

Outdoor play

Shade sails can provide a perfect place for young children to play in, which is protected from the sun and other elements. Sandpits, paddling pools and other pay areas can easily be set up under a canopy.

Sun protection 

Our shade structures are manufactured to provide the greatest level of sun protection possible and can block up to 98.8 per cent of harmful UV rays. This is of key importance, as children’s skin is particularly vulnerable to sunburn and getting burnt as a child is scientifically proven to increase a person’s chances of contracting skin cancer when older.

Why restaurants can benefit from shade canopies

The impact of the financial crisis means people have been forced to cut back on non-essential spending on things such as eating out. As a result, restaurants now more than ever need to do everything they can to ensure customers are still coming through the doors.

One way you restaurant could boost its appeal without stretching its budget is by making the most of the opportunities provided by installing a shade canopy, which is the ideal way to create an inexpensive outdoor dining area.

Why restaurants can benefit from shade canopies

Why restaurants can benefit from shade canopies

Attraction 

When the weather is pleasant, people like to enjoy food and drink in the open air. By creating a covered outdoor area with a shade canopy such diners will be attracted to your establishment.

This can be a real tipping point for customers, especially if you are competing with other nearby venues that don’t offer any outdoor seating.

Furthermore, there’s nothing that attracts people to a restaurant more than seeing a venue that’s busy and full of fellow diners. Thus, restaurant owners should be willing to invest in anything that will attract more customers, no matter how small it may seem.

Space

A practical advantage of adding a covered outdoor area to your restaurant is that it increases the amount of floor space available to you. More space, means more customers and that is only ever good news.

No one likes a cramped restaurant and by providing increased space you will be offering a far superior dining experience.

Smoking area

If you’re not keen on the idea of having outdoor seating all year round, there are plenty of other potential uses for a covered space. Smokers will always appreciate having an area that is sheltered from the elements and small features like this can make a big difference to the way a customer views a restaurant.

Storage

Another way you could make use of your covered area is to turn it into a storage space during the winter months. Items such as furniture can be kept secure out of the wind and rain, ready to be brought out again when the sun starts shining.

Is it time for children to reconnect with the outdoors?

There can be no denying that children spend less time outside than they used to.

When the draws of television and computers are combined with parental concerns about safety, it can be easy for youngsters to spend more or less all of their time indoors.

This is a shame, as there are so many benefits that can kids can get from being outside and we run the risk of these being lost if action isn’t taken to encourage parents and children to go outdoors more often.

Indeed, these concerns have been expressed by the Wild Network – an organisation that has recently been established to try and tackle this issue.

At the end of October, it launched a new campaign called Project Wild Thing, which aims to help people “re-wild” their children by swapping 30 minutes of screen time for half an hour of “wild time” every day.

Speaking at the scheme’s launch, chair of the Wild Network Andy Simpson said: “The tragic truth is that kids have lost touch with nature and the outdoors in just one generation.”

This is an issue that has caught our attention here at Shaded Nation and we’re pleased to see action being taken to try and help kids spend more time outside. One of the best ways we think this can be done in is by encouraging outdoor learning either at home or school.

Whether it’s in the garden, playground or school field, this helps kids to experience the outdoors and ensures they are being educated at the same time.

Outdoor learning can take many forms, be it getting the kids to complete a nature trail or simply taking a class in the open air. This can help children to appreciate the outdoors and is proven to have a positive impact on their health and education.

The benefits of this approach were well summarised by filmmaker David Bond, who is involved with Project Wild Thing. He stated: “Spending time outdoors is hugely beneficial to children and young people. Research clearly shows that it improves their health, reduces stress and boosts wellbeing.”