Posted on October 5th, 2018 - Fiona
Sometimes a book comes my way that inspires a whole range of activities for me here on the farm. A pile of Leaves from Phaidon.com is one such book. The concept is very simple, but then the best ones always are. Each page builds on the one before to form a pile of leaves. With the arrival of autumn this felt like the perfect time to be searching for fallen leaves and creating fun crafts with them too.
Reading a pile of Leaves
We began our activity session reading the lovely “A Pile of Leaves” book. It is all pictures apart from the leaf identification at the back so left me plenty of scope to talk with the children about autumn and the falling leaves.
A little preview of the book:
Under the old Oak Tree
Coombe Mill has an abundance of lovely old oak trees which are scattering their acorns all around. We took some collecting tubs and began searching for fallen acorns, shells and leaves to create our own autumn stone sculptures. The children found plenty on the floor of the car park and inside the fairy garden.
Leaf and Acorn Autumn Sculptures
Once back at the craft table I mixed a stiff flour and water paste for the children to use to stick their acorns and leaves into their chosen designs on beach pebbles. The beach pebbles I collected the previous week down at the secret beach with my own kids knowing I’d find a good use for them. It was sticky messy fun that inspired creativity without being complex. With a range of 1 – 3 year old’s, this was just what I needed.
Painting a pile of leaves
The children were thrilled with the results and despite their young age keen to do more. I broke out the paints and we painted leaves and printed them with overlapping edges to make a pile of leaves effect just like the book.
It was a beautiful September afternoon and the children had coped so well with all the crafts considering their age. It felt only right to practice a little rolling down the hill, tumbling a falling just like leaves from the trees being blown in the wind.
Meanwhile their crafts dried off in the sun
Outdoor classroom style learning like this is perfect for preschoolers. We had a lovely afternoon studying leaves and nature without anyone feeling pressure to do anything but have fun.
Recreate A pile of leaves sculpture and painting at home
This would be a fun and educational activity to recreate from a country walk.
What you’ll Need||
- Collected seasonal leaves and nature
- Large flat pebble
- flour and water paste
- Paint and paper
- mounting card
Balance (not all things will stack or stick to the paste and pebble if they are too large or unbalanced)
The opportunity to discuss leaf types and changes with seasons
Suitable For||Age 2 – 5|
Posted on September 29th, 2018 - Fiona
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.
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.
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:
Posted on September 28th, 2018 - Fiona
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.
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.
I hung the finished nature piñatas up from the games room veranda.
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.
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!
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.
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.
|Suitable For||Age 5 – 13|
Posted on September 24th, 2018 - Fiona
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.
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.
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
Phaidon.com, wordery, Amazon,
3 – 6|
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
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.
Posted on September 22nd, 2018 - Fiona
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
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
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
Thankfully we had plenty of extended family in Sussex to take our mind of things that first night over a balmy autumn garden BBQ.
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.
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.