Posted on October 17th, 2016 - Fiona
Jigsaws are a great way to to begin to develop a child’s mind from an early age. Finding a first jigsaw puzzle that is manageable from age 2 and also engaging in picture content is not easy. Orchard Toys have done the research for you and come up with a six in one puzzle box that really does appeal to little ones.
Once upon a time……
The once upon a time puzzle box has six mini puzzles inside, each relating to a different classic children’s story like Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood. Each puzzle comprises of 3 large pieces which slot together easily for little fingers. To help make things easier each story has its own colour background so that picture and colour can be used to match the stories together.
Putting our First Jigsaw puzzle to the test
The real test is not what I think as a parent, but what our 2 year old holiday customers think. I took the puzzle along to the Coombe Mill evening train ride to see if anyone would like to have a try. The colourful jigsaw pieces soon had a willing tester sitting at my table. With just a little help from Mum to show how the pieces slotted together he was busy at work. The concentration was evident and the jigsaw clearly absorbing despite Clio coming along to start the train up.
After the train ride I had another taker who also carefully finished every one of the six puzzles and both boys knew about half of the stories.
What we like about the Once upon a time jigsaws:
- A perfect first jigsaw puzzle
- Develops Manual dexterity
- Encourages picture matching and colour recognition
- An opportunity for creative discussion
- Wipe clean pieces
- Sensibly priced at £7.95 to make a great gift for a birthday or Christmas
- Easy travel box
- Large jigsaw pieces for little fingers to hold
- Colourful eye catching imagery
- 3 alphabet and number ruler / bookmarks make a surprise extra in the box
Win your ‘once up a time’ first jigsaw puzzle with Orchard Toys and Coombe Mill
If you know a little one that would enjoy a little learning made fun with these first puzzles then why not enter to win below. Good luck to all taking part and do check out the other lovely products in the Orchard Toys range too.
Once Upon a Time… Puzzle Set
I was sent my Puzzle box for the purpose of this review. However all thoughts and options are my own.
Posted on April 4th, 2016 - Fiona
Education and Learning on the Farm
Here at Coombe Mill we love to encourage creative kids, to learn about the farm and nature and above all have a fun family holiday. Combining all these things is easy with our educational morning feed run where the children naturally ask Farmer Nick all sorts of questions about farm life and are happy to volunteer to help with everything from tractor driving to nursing lambs. Respect for nature, closing farm gates and learning which plants the animals can eat is all part of understanding nature on the farm. The jobs change by season with hay needed to supplement feed in the winter months when the grass isn’t growing. By the end of the week we have little farming experts who earn themselves a certificate for helping out.
Before the children leave we run a craft based activity hour on the last day, here we try to pick up on farm learning, stretch imaginations and incorporate nature making it fun at all times. From stories to headdresses with a splash of paint, colouring and cutting around seasonal themes, this is social and fun for all creative kids.
Cut and Colour Play Book for Creative Kids
Anouck Boisrobert is a graphic designer and illustrator who has been taken on by Ivy Press to produce her charming and educational activity colour playbook covering the 4 seasons.
I was I was immediately taken with the idea, seeing an obvious connection with our farm learning. The concept is simple and the results so effective. The beautifully illustrated book contains four seasons over a number of pages. Each page has simple instructions to colour on one side and cut on the other. As you work through a season, following the instructions, you create a wonderful seasonal layered picture. The pictures are not over complicated and instructions very clear making it suitable for creative kids from a young age with reasonable scissor and pencil control. I would say age 6 to 9 would be perfect.
A helpful photo at the start of each season gives you an idea of what you are trying to create as well as a short write up about the season. All the way through there are little tips on colours to use to make the landscape, animals and plants for the season. I was really impressed with the book and at £9.99 all you need to add is a pair of scissors and colouring pencils for hours of happy creating. The book can be purchased from Amazon
Win your copy of the Cut and Colour Playbook – Seasons
For your chance to win a copy of this lovely book of seasons for creative kids just follow the instructions below. Good luck to all taking part.
Cut and Colour Playbook Seasons
I was sent my copy of the cut and Colour Playbook to use in our Activity Farm Crafts, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Posted on September 6th, 2015 - Fiona
Back to School Stationery Pot Tutorial
With most parents of children aged four and over this will be the first week of the new school term. We are back in two a school run, new uniforms, the excitement of a new class or even a new school and of course with all of this will follow the homework. In an attempt to provide structure to homework and incentivise children I have come up with decorative stationery pot which is simple for children to make into their own chosen design.
What you’ll need
- A reel of duck tape colours tape
- Forestry ribbon
- Pens and pencils
- An empty tin can
To make your Stationary Pot
- Thoroughly wash a used tin can, we used an old evaporated milk can which had an attractive gold inside.
- Cut a strip of duck tape colour the diameter of the tin can and wrap it around the tin with a centimetre overlapping the top
- Carefully fold the overlapping centimetre of tape in to the tin and stick down.
- Do the same at the bottom folding the centimetre spare underneath the tin.
- Now wrap a strip around the middle to fully cover your tin.
To make your colourful pens and pencils
- Take long thin strips of coloured floristry ribbon to coordinate with your pot.
- Attach the ribbon to a small rectangle of Duck Tape Colours.
- Starting at the tip of the pen attach the Duck Tape Colours.
- Wrap the ribbon around the pen towards the top.
- Secure the ribbon with another strip of Duck Tape Colours.
- Leave a few strands of floristry ribbon at the top for fun and curling these with the edge of a pair of scissors.
Note: Keeping the duck tape to a good hand length at the base gives a secure grip on the pencil for little hands.
A few additions you could try
- We added a sheet of coloured paper to our pots with a homework timetable on it. This could be as simple as a reading list to tick off or spellings to learn for the week. Some little duck tape stickers are a great way to mark off progress.
- Instead of doing three wraps of Duck Tape Colours on your pot you could use floristry ribbon as the central colour to create a different texture or colour to your design.
- In activity Hour we cut strips of paper for the children to colour in with their own designs and writing for another way to fill in the centre section of the pots.
- Many of the children had been studying the Victorians last term in class. They wrote in the younger years with slate and chalk progressing to a pen with a metal nib with ink when they were older, so we tried whittling some sticks and decorating them, then dipping them in paint to write to replicate writing back then. You could also try this with a long feather.
Joining in with Trash 2 Treasure
If you have post about something you have made with something from nature or something you would have otherwise have thrown away please come and share on Trash 2 Treasure. The linky will run on the 1st Monday of every month and stay open for the full month. Post can take any form, all that matters is that the item made has been upcycled from something of little value or found in nature. Leaves and loo rolls, sticks and staples, there are so many throw away items which, with a little imagination can be turned into something of value. Most of my something from nothing craft tutorials will come from fun keepsakes we have made with the children in our farm activity hour but sometimes, I will share bigger upcycling projects from Farmer Nick too. I hope through the linky to acquire some new ideas and I welcome all posts old and new.
A little extra from the awesome folk at Duck Tape Colours
Trash to Treasure is sponsored by Duck Tape Colours, makers of colourful tape to add pattern and sparkle to all your upcycling projects. Our favourite upcycling post each month will receive 3 colourful rolls of tape to inspire your next project. Do check out their website for plenty of creative ideas.
Congratulations to Sarah at Craft Invaders who is August’s winner with upcycled Coombe Mill style sheep from corks and cocktail sticks.
Other inspired posts this month were:
Shell crafts from A Patchwork Life and and a decoupage bookshelf from Farmer’s Wife and Mummy
Use the hashtag #Trash2Treasure on twitter, instagram or Google Plus and I’ll find you
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Posted on June 19th, 2015 - Fiona
Fairy Cakes and wizard’s potion
Here on the farm we had an active group of preschool age boys and girls staying all hoping for some childhood fun for Activity Hour. Thanks to commissioning our new mud kitchen in the week I had a plan forming that I knew would engage them all.
We began as usual over at the craft tent where the children set to work making magic wands to their own design. We secured the ribbons with Clio’s endless supply of old loom bands.
I shared my new laminated recipes for the Mud kitchen for Fairy Cakes, Wizard’s Potion and Goblin Gratin and the children were captivated, their imaginations racing.
They didn’t need asking twice to choose a wizard or fairy outfit from our fancy dress collection and then armed with wands and empty containers we made our way across the farm to the mud kitchen filling our containers along the way with cooking ingredients from nature.
I was delighted to stand back and watch as the children aged just two to six worked together making dinner for the fairies. There was much concentration, plenty of stirring and waving of wands as fairy cakes baked in the oven and potions boiled on the hob. Listening in on their conversations it was plain to see they were totally wrapped up in the task and loving this new space.
Satisfied with the results the children carefully carried their meals over to the fairy garden discussing recipes as they walked.
Entering the gardens the children turned cakes out by Snow White and her Seven Dwarfs, fed them to our resident gnome and ladled potion and scattered meals around the edge of the pathways ready for the fairies to come down from the trees and out from the bushes. All that remained was to wave wands and sound the wind chimes to alert the fairies that dinner was served.
While we waited for the fairies to come Farmer Nick had another project waiting for us on the lower tier of the fairy garden. The Coombe Mill bug house was taking shape but needed filling with bamboo lengths. Several of the older boys helped to stuff them inside. They were a little disappointed it wasn’t instantly filled with creepy crawlies so I relocated our stone lady bird to sit on top for now. I’m sure it will be a thriving hotel in no time.
It was an hour of enchanted childlike play stimulating imagination and creativity in the children with plenty of teamwork too. I can see both our Mud Kitchen and Bug Hotel having plenty of use over the summer season.
Joining in with Country Kids
If you have been enjoying the summer outdoors please come and join me here on the linky. Country Kids is for all outdoor family fun from garden play to fun days out. Please do grab the badge or link back here and remember to check out the other posts too, everyone loves a comment and you never know you might just find inspiration for your next outdoor adventure.
Country Kids is around in these communities, I’d love you to join me:
Pin on the Pinterest Board Just ask for an invite to pin and include Country Kids on your pins for me to stop by on your boards too (no need for a hash tag in Pinterest)
Follow Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays’s board Country Kids from Coombe Mill on Pinterest.
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A few of my favourites from last week:
The Eden project is a wonderful Cornish attraction, made even better by a visit from Mr Bloom as Our footprints on the world discovered.
Scavenger Hunts are a great way to enjoy nature for kids, this simple colour one from Baby Routes means even toddlers can give it a go.
Shaun the sheep came to London and would keep you fit if you managed to spot him on every corner as Little Hearts, Big Love did.
If you like the idea of a fairy garden, why not try this miniature one with wildflowers as made by Mother's Little Steps I've noted it for a future Activity Hour here.
St David's Cathedral is a popular visiting place for Diary of the Evans Crittens and reading their post it is easy to see why.
Life Unexpected enjoyed a day out at one of my favourite Cornish attractions for families with young children, Dairyland.
Posted on April 19th, 2015 - Fiona
Learning the hard way
Here at Coombe Mill one of the favourite animals with all our guests is the rabbits. I have mentioned before the problems we have had this year with rabbits thanks to the local foxes and then disease and how disappointed our guests had been to see their numbers dwindle. Finally it all came good and we had beautifully bonny bunnies and healthy parents just in time for Easter.
All the children were delighted and were allowed to stroke and hold the rabbits on the daily feed run. We encourage the children to sit down or crouch low to hold them as when the bunnies wriggle the children are inclined to panic and let go! It does no harm if they are close to the ground and over straw but can kill them if they hit the concrete from a height.
I often run an activity hour session up at the rabbits where we go through rabbit husbandry, the only downside of this is that it falls at the end of the week just before the children leave so we do run through safe care of the rabbits on the first morning feed run too.
Once a rabbit feels safe and ready to breed there is no stopping them, hot on the heels of the first litter we had another by a different mother and both were competing for space in the hutch for their nest. The second Mum had mistakenly made her nest very close to the first, a parental squabble ensued and the new litter were all abandoned in days. I think it must be the same mother who fell pregnant again and keen not to repeat her mistake made her nest in the open section of the hutch well away from the growing bunnies. This was all acceptable in rabbit parenting but left them vulnerable to human fingers.
We ensured everyone was aware on the first feed run of the week that these babies must not be disturbed. However as we ran into changeover day in the Easter holidays and the older children arrived and began to roam unsupervised on their first afternoon there was trouble. I should have kept them all locked up for the day but it was such a beautiful sunny day it felt a shame not to let them out into their yard. One of our regular visitors ran up to me in reception quite concerned to say that someone was moving the babies from their mother. I was just showing in a group of newly arrived guests but Amber had just come back and followed the helpful young boy back to the rabbits straight away. It turns out the children had seen the mother sitting on the babies and in ignorance feared she was squashing them and moved her out the way and relocated the week old bunnies into an inaccessible hutch alone. In fact the mother was feeding her babies at the time. Amber quickly moved the babies back and tried to rebuild the nest as best she could; however having been disturbed and the scent of humans all over her babies it was unlikely she would take them back.
We explained to the children the implications of their actions and that we understood they were worried for the rabbits but that they should never interfere with nature. The message was reiterated on the feed run to all the children and parents the following morning and then it was just a waiting game. The children were as good as gold at not interfering for the rest of the week but the baby bunnies were left just as we had feared; their nest abandoned and unkempt. One by one they began to die until there were just 2 remaining. In desperation I tried syringe feeding them with some of Rocky the goat’s milk. They took this but I worried it would prolong a slow and painful death as there was no guarantee this contained the correct nutrient balance.
Every cloud has a silver lining
On day two of feeding them I noticed the Mother of the larger bunnies come in and sniff my returned baby all over, lick away the milk I had given and allow the baby to huddled back in with her offspring. It looked as if the older baby bunnies had accepted their abandoned baby friends and with their scents all combined so the mother had taken them all in as hers!
Nature is a funny old thing but it is always best left alone if you are unsure.
I hope we will have more baby bunnies throughout the spring and summer here on the farm, if you fancy a holiday with us and some careful bunny cuddles do check out our price and availability page.