Family farm holidays in Cornwall magical for children, toddlers and babies.
Coombe Mill Blog
"Tales from the farmers wife" shares the funny and interesting happenings on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. A behind the scenes look on balancing family, farming, the holiday business and cooking for all.
I have really been enjoying using nature with the children staying here this autumn. There are so many windfalls hitting the farm giving countless possibilities for learning made fun in our outdoor classroom. With a very young team signed up to join me I knew I had to make things fun and easy this week. Two year olds are very discerning and will vote with their feet if the learning goes over their heads. I remembered how popular dinosaur world creation was last winter but was concerned it would be too fiddly for this group. A little adaption based on my pile of leaves craft and I had a simple dinoscape ready to impress with a dinosaur hunt to finish it off.
Atlas of dinosaur adventures
We began with a little look at the lovely ‘Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures‘ book from Quarto Kids. It is huge with beautiful visuals for each continent. We focused on the Europe page which perfectly depicts all the children could see around them at Coombe Mill from trees and nature to rivers and rocks. Meandering through the landscape were the dinosaurs. Two of the boys were wearing a dinosaur top which was a great start. We talked about the landscape and how it must have looked rather like Coombe Mill back when the dinosaurs were alive.
Collecting Nature for a dinoscape
I didn’t want to keep the children sat still for too long so we headed straight on out in search of fallen leaves, acorns, petals and more to create their own dinoscapes. When the tubs were filled we ventured into the log store to choose a log each as the base to their dinosaur landscape.
Creating a dinoscape
Back at my craft table the children began to spread my flower and water paste on to their log and arrange all their collected nature on top. The dinoscapes came together perfectly as the paste is very forgiving allowing the children to pull things off and re-paste until they were happy.
They were so engrossed in creating their dinosaur landscape they almost forgot it needed a dinosaur on it. They all knew dinosaurs were extinct do I explained we would have to go digging for a buried dinosaur. After a couple of clues they raced off to the sand diggers in the sand pit and began to dig. Oh the excitement as a dinosaur came to life!
A little free play
The temptation to stay and play was too much, and we had no real time limit so we were all happy to let them run around and chase up and down the slide for a few minutes to wear themselves out.
Dinosaurs complete the dinoscape
Finally we reminded them of their dinosaurs and the dinoscapes waiting for them. They ran back to the craft table with dinosaurs in hand and with a little more paste fixed them into their chosen place.
I was so pleased; the activity suited these little ones perfectly with just the right amount of learning and fun.
Recreate a Dinoscape at home
This would be such a simple activity to recreate from a walk in the woods or the park.
What you’ll Need
Nature collected from a walk
A small toy dinosaur to hide (ours came in a pack of 6 for £1.99)
A small log
Flower mixed with water to form a stiff paste.
The opportunity to explore animal diets and habitats
It was the first day out on the farm for this young lad. He had the feed run to himself as our other guests had made an early get away for a day out in Cornwall in the sunshine. Everything was new and it showed in his 2 year old face, his emotions and reactions to the farm. That said Farmer Nick is very used to this and took the morning duties at this little man’s pace. You can see fear, wonder and then a growing confidence just in one morning.
Tailored to you
It is easy for us to forget how much there is to learn on a first day, from how to handle the eggs, to which animals are safe to feed from your hand. However the feed run is tailored to the visitors we have. In the school holidays the children and animals are highly interactive and for the safety of everyone we have to hold back the over brave. On mornings like this everything is much more gentle. Animal feeding is largely through the fence and very carefully supervised. This way confidence grows and with it the quest to do more. There is something for every child to take away from a farm holiday.
Looking unsure entering the farm
Finding a real chicken egg with a feather still on it
Oops, discovering what happens to eggs dropped into the bucket!
Excitement over the goats
Feeling confident to feed the goats through the fence
Give your kids farm confidence with us
With the beautiful autumn scenery, quieter feed runs with younger children, autumn is a lovely time to visit us. Check out our availability if you are temped for a family break. We are open all year and the animals love to see the children over the quieter months, I promise they will grow in confidence with just a few days here.
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
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
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:
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.
“Tales from the farmers wife” shares life on our lovely holiday farm with Farmer Nick and our 6 children. Step into our beautiful 30 acres and experience nature close up with farming and educational crafts in stunning North Cornwall. Family, fun and adventure start here.