Toddle onto the farm for sunny adventures in September

Posted on September 29th, 2018 -

Wow what a week it turned out to be. After 3 storms in one week last week we had back to back sunshine for this week. Our lucky guests were treated to the best of September sunshine. Almost frosty mornings gave way to t-shirts and looking for sun cream by lunchtime. For those beginning to toddle around we have acres of safe space to run free, learn and play.

Toddler led adventures start here

Here on the farm we have been busy with preschool children throughout September.  This week they have braved the chilly mornings and been rewarded with something new to experience every day on the farm. As the sun rises over the valley so the animals wake, prick up their ears and come out to the sound of the tractor arriving. From egg collecting to goat feeding our little ones have enjoyed every minute. 

Contemplating Farmer Nick’s “Gently” advice.

It takes a cracked egg or two for the little ones to understand “gently” but it’s all part of farm learning.

collecting eggs

 

Hand feeding the goats

Goats can’t bite unlike ponies, it takes a while for the little ones to grasp this but the thrill of plucking up the courage to hand feed them is magical. 

 

goat feeding

 

If you have a preschool age child who might enjoy our farm this autumn, do take a look at our website for our special low season prices and deals.  It’s not just me shouting out about the fun here, this is from one of our guests in the week: 


Nature Piñatas to Create and Smash

Posted on September 28th, 2018 -

What do you do to entertain an eager group of children age 3 to 12 on a soggy Friday afternoon? I had struggled all week to come up with something and knew the forecast was at best mixed. I dug back in my mind for inspiration from birthday parties with my own children here on the farm over the years and decided the three things that were always most popular were water fights, DIY piñata making and treasure hunts. I ruled out the water fight with the different age ranges and thought on the other two. Finally I decided on the Piñata but with a twist, instead of using recycled materials as we had in the past, we would use nature. It all fell into place in my mind as I created an example nature piñata to show the children.

 

Nature Piñatas to create and smash

 

Setting the nature piñatas challenge

I split the group into two teams with a mix of ages, girls and boys. Each were given a sealed box with sweets inside and a long piece of string out of one end, a pair of scissors and a length of wool. I showed them the example nature piñata I had made and challenged them to go between the rain showers in search of nature to do the same or better. As an extra incentive to make them try their hardest to make them secure I told them they would swap piñatas at the end and have to try and crack open the other team’s work.  

Collaboration and team work

It took a little while for the teams to begin to work effectively, but with a few tips and pointers they began to organise themselves. Some ran off gathering resources while others considered how best to secure them with the limited resources available.  The more they worked together and listened to one another the better the progress. It became quite frantic and competitive as each watched the other team and I began to count down the time to stop building.

Making nature pinatas

I hung the finished nature piñatas up from the games room veranda.   

nature pinata ready to play

Then the children had to think how they were going to knock them down. A stick was the obvious nature choice and they dashed off in search of the biggest they could manage. Just to spice it up again I made them give their chosen stick to the opposite team to use, though we swapped half way to ensure no one had an unfair advantage.

finding whacking sticks on the farm

Ready to play

Excitement was bubbling by this point but the children all lined up for the agreed 3 whacks each before moving to the back of the queue. This rule was essential so that no one was excitedly standing in whacking range!

whacking pinatas

The nature surrounding the boxes held fast for a good few minutes before the boxes were finally reached and hacked and the sweets came thumbing out. With a little reminder to share with their team mates the team leaders ensured everyone in the team had their share of sweets.   

sharing sweets from nature pinatas

It turned into one of my most fun activity sessions and in the excitement of it all no one cared about the showers, though having the veranda to build under was certainly a help.  

 

Recreate Nature Piñatas at Home

This would be a fun activity to recreate with a group of children for a play date or birthday party.

What you’ll Need

Nature collected from a walk keeping flexibility in mind to wrap.

A measured length of string at least a meter long

A box with wrapped sweets inside and a good length of string secured around it. 

A hook outdoors to hang your nature pinatas

A big stick to hit the nature pinata.

scissors.

Educational Benefits

Creativity

Lateral thinking

Team work

Leadership 

Suitable ForAge 5 – 13

 

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My Art Book of Love

Posted on September 24th, 2018 -

We have been looking at some very grown up fine art pictures made beautifully simplistic and contextual for children in the new nonfiction book from Phaidon called My Art Book of LOVE.  If you stop for a moment and think about how you might explain Love to a young child, it is really quite a challenge. That’s because Love can be a mix of emotions and senses. This clever book uses famous works of art through the ages to try to convey a true meaning of Love in a way children can understand. Read on to discover more and how you can win yourself a copy of the book.

My Art Book of Love  

Celebrate love in all its forms

My Art Book of LOVE takes the reader on an illustrative journey to explore the concept of Love.  Through famous artists love is made relatable in the book. Each section begins with a different way to think of love such as Love is…. love feels ….. Love looks like, love makes you….. There are 35 artworks used and each shows its title and artist as well as how it helps explain love. From modern sculptures to paintings from Vincent van Gogh and Picasso all genres and forms are covered.

 

Pages from My art book of LOVE

What we love

For a family with an artistic appreciation this book is a great way for children to be introduced to some great works of art. For those with a less cultural appreciation this clever book gives a real insight into what the artist might have been trying to portray as well as aptly suggesting the elements of love.

Need to know

Retail Price £14.95

Stockists

Phaidon.com, wordery, Amazon, 

Age Range 3 – 6
Author Shana Gozansky
ISBN9780714877181

Format

Hardback

Size: 190 x 146 mm (7 1/2 x 5 3/4 in) 
Pages: 48 pp
Illustrations: 34 illustrations 

Win your copy of My Art Book of Love with Phaidon and Coombe Mill

For your chance to bring a rich awareness of Love to your little ones and an appreciation of fine art why not enter to win a copy of this beautiful book. Simply follow the instructions below.

My art Book of Love Giveaway

Disclosure

We were sent our copy of the book for the purpose of this review. It is available for Coombe Mill holiday guests to borrow from the Games Room book shelves. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.


University of Sussex for one Fresher

Posted on September 22nd, 2018 -

Last weekend saw many 18 year olds head off for their first term at University. For us it was Felix who was about to sample university life for the very first time. The excitement, the anticipation, the 2 years of A level studies all building up for a new life with so many hopes and fears. Sussex was his first choice, not an easy journey from Cornwall, but helpfully just 4 miles from his Grandmother. This was certainly a benefit for Nick and me as we had somewhere local to spend the night and make sure Felix had all he needed for the term.

Apologies for the average photo quality, they are all phone snaps.  I never intended to make the post, but how could I not record such a significant event.

 

Sussex University Campus

Halls of Residence at Sussex University

A good feeling

Right from the prospectus and the open day Felix was sold on Sussex. It has a lovely campus feel to it with everything on one site from bars to lecture rooms and even a bank and a shop.  Arrival was made very simple and we had Felix’s room key in minutes. With 12 students to a floor in his halls of residence sharing just 1 kitchen, 2 showers, 2 loos and a bath they were all going to need to be very sociable very quickly.  This was no problem and the kitchen soon became the meeting hub as everyone arrived.

Felix’s Halls of Residence

Halls of Residence at Sussex University

 

Lets Party

We left Felix there for his first night, the girls on his floor already filling him in on the wrist bands he needed for the evening party at the Student Union.

Home for the next year

Felix in halls of residence at Sussex University

 

Thankfully we had plenty of extended family in Sussex to take our mind of things that first night over a balmy autumn garden BBQ.

 

Drinks in the September Sun

And so 8 becomes 7

A week on and life is sweet for Felix who is making the most of Fresher’s fortnight. Of course I’m missing him already; his siblings not so much, we came home to room chaos back in Cornwall as Theo called “shotgun” on his bedroom and the ripple effect of this filtered down to the smallest room now being redecorated for Felix in the holidays.

Reflections

Two years ago it was our Eldest going off to Cardiff for University. Early in his second year he decided it wasn’t for him and came home. He is now happy here perusing a career in carpentry (he was studying economics), we have learned so much from his experience and hope that Felix has made the choices that will see him through a happy 3 or 4 years at Sussex. He is studying Marketing management with psychology, but I’ve encouraged him to gate crash a couple of other lectures in the first week to be sure he has made the right choice.  

 


Blackberry Biscuits and Stick Pencil Writing  

Posted on September 21st, 2018 -

Every year when blackberry season comes round I can’t resist a little baking fun with the kids here. However I have made our yummy blackberry muffins so many times I was keen to try something new. My other easy to make recipe is biscuits and I figured a few blackberries squished in would add a new dimension to a classic recipe.  To this we added a little fun pencil making and blackberry juice ink for some creative nature writing.

Blackberry Biscuits and Stick Pencil Writing  

Blackberry picking

Before any of the activities could start we needed to go blackberry picking. I knew all the best places that had escaped Farmer Nick’s careful pruning this summer and we headed off with collecting punnets.

Blackberry picking

We washed the blackberries. Next the children helped to shape the dough into rounds and place them on baking trays before pressing blackberries into the dough balls.

Making blackberry biscuits

Our mix made 2 large trays which went into the oven to cook.

Making blackberry buscuits

Blackberry Ink

While the biscuits cooked, we put the rest of the blackberries through my old fashioned hand held cheese grater to create blackberry ink.

 

Making blackberry juice

Stick pencils.

Sticky fingers were washed and the children ran off to find sticks they could turn into pencils in the fairy gardens.

 

collecting sticks in the fairy garden

 

Decorating pencils was great fun. We used coloured floristry ribbon and wool and then took them to Theo who whittled the ends with his penknife into a nib for writing. The smaller sticks fitted into a pencil sharpener which was even easier.

 

Whittling and decorating stick pencils

Blackberry writing on recipe cards

Then came the fun part; Everyone took a piece of card and stuck the biscuit recipe in the centre, before dipping the decorated pencil nibs in the blackberry ink to add writing and pictures. Some ribbon around the edge completed the cards and made a lovely keepsake and holder for the pencils.  

 

Blackberry ink recipe pictures

 

The only thing left to do was to sit back and sample our blackberry biscuits.   

 

Blackberry biscuits

Recreate Blackberry biscuits and stick pencil writing at home

This would be a fun and educational activity to recreate from a family blackberry picking walk.

What you’ll Need

Blackberries and a pencil shaped stick collected from a walk

Biscuit ingredients: Flour, butter, sugar

Something to squish the blackberries for ink (we used an old fashioned cheese grater)

Ribbons

Sharp knife or pencil sharpener for the stick.

Card to write on (we used a cereal box cut up)

Educational Benefits

Creativity

Cooking health and safety and lessons

Dexterity

The opportunity to explore writing through the ages  

Suitable ForAge 4 – 12