Posted on October 19th, 2018 - Fiona
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
|Suitable For||Age 2 – 4|
Posted on January 19th, 2018 - Fiona
The New Year break sees plenty of guests returning to the farm to see out the old year and welcome in the new. It has become a bit of a tradition for us to turn New Year’s Eve into a fun day for the children with crafts in the afternoon and a party early evening. This year was no exception and I had a group of enthusiastic children waiting for me at the games room to discover this year’s crafts of making New Year Calendars and Firework Paintings.
Making New Year Calendars
Last year we made lanterns and safe sparklers which the kids adored so I was keen to come up with something new which would be as fun and themed again. My homemade calendars worked a treat and the children were full of ideas for things they wanted to add. Some coloured in all their school holiday dates while lots of ideas went into writing to do lists for January in one side of the pockets we created.
They were all made from cutting out the calendar from a free printable online, then using a cereal box to mount the calendar and add ‘to do’ sheets. I do like to bring our crafts back to nature or the farm and so we left a pocket on our mounted calendars free to add the month’s nature finds. This took us outside just as the rain stopped and a rainbow came out.
We weren’t going to have long before the next downpour and the children ran between the nearby bushes and the fairy gardens in search of the perfect piece of nature that shouted Coombe Mill in January to them.
Back inside we added the final touch of nature to our calendars and carefully put on one side while we ventured back out under the shelter of the games room porch for some messy painting fun.
I’d used spray painting last year in our autumn collages and thought it would work brilliantly with lots of different colours on black card as firework paintings against a night sky. I filled a selection of old spray bottles with coloured watered down poster paint and each child took it in turn to choose their firework colours and design.
It was great fun even if we did manage to spray the windows a little too! thankfully with poster paint it soon washed off.
We hung them up to dry whilst talking over the fireworks show that Farmer Nick would put on for them after the party later that evening. I will need to be very creative to come up with two such successful New Year’s Eve crafts next year.
Making New Year Calendars and Firework Paintings.
Posted on June 9th, 2017 - Fiona
I feel like we have been so lucky this year with plenty of dry weather and if you follow my Country Kids posts you could be forgiven for thinking the sun always shines on Coombe Mill. However sadly this isn’t always the case and the rain caught up with us just in time for my life underwater studies. Thankfully it was warm enough to still be outside but due to the frequency of the showers I based our activities under the eaves of the games room. At least water was in the theme for the afternoon.
We began with a gorgeous little mini game I’m reviewing from Orchard Toys at the moment as the children were the perfect age. It is called little bug Bingo and since many of the bugs were to be found on or around our lakes and river it felt like a good link. The children soon picked up the idea of the game taking it in turns to turn over the cards and match them to their place mats.
We moved onto a delightful story from Quarto Kids about life under the ocean. The children really took to this with the lift up flaps despite only being in black and white. There was a treat at the end as I handed out colouring pens and every one had a chance to turn the pages from black and white to colour.
We still have tadpoles in huge quantities in our lakes so we had a little look at the Frog life cycle using our bingo matching skills to place the elements of the frog life cycle into place
That was enough studying for my little ones and they were keen to see some real life underwater. In case we couldn’t get out on our underwater search I had brought a bucket of underwater life from the pond up to the table. The children crowded round to look at the tadpoles and water boatman swimming among the reeds in my bucket. After a quick lesson in how to use a magnifying glass they were captivated.
I promised if the rain stopped we could all go to release them and see what else we could spot on the way. However first I had a fun fishing game lined up. A bath mat became my pond with bracken leaves as fish. The children used sticky weed on sticks as fishing lines and had great fun trying to catch a fish. This is such a simple game we have used before and would be ideal to play down at a park or by a river too just by collecting things from nature.
Finally we had our break in the rain and set off with tick sheets showing life underwater in our lake and river. We spotted sticky weed and bracken in the hedges from our fishing game, stopped to look for fish swimming upstream on the bridge over the river and spotted plenty of tadpoles in the lake while I carefully replaced our bucket full.
There were plenty of tadpoles, carp popping to the surface and more bugs on the surface to tick off on our water life spotters worksheets
We came back a different route stopping to check the frog hiding under the bridge.
I was so pleased we were finally able to complete our walk and the children could see the pond life in the lakes and not just in my bucket.
Life Underwater studies for preschool children
Posted on April 3rd, 2017 - Fiona
Kids love an adventure and parents love seeing willing readers and able learners. Lonely Planet Kids know how to bring all these elements together with their fun children’s range of books. We have been lucky enough to have a peep at one of the latest book series “Let’s Explore” taking in the topics of Deserts, Mountains and Cities.
Let’s Explore Deserts, Mountains and Cities
The books are packed with activities, challenges and 250 stickers on the book theme. Each book takes the reader on an adventure with Marco and Amelia, follow their path through the highest mountain range, the driest desert or the busiest cities. Every page is interactive, you may be asked to colour, shown how to draw, unravel a word search or find the right stickers to complete the picture. This is learning made fun for young children and a great way to learn about the world we live in.
What we liked
Apart from the obvious educational benefits on offer here what really impressed me was the easy use of language, sharing information through clever illustrations and just enough easy to understand words for young children to grasp what is happening and stay engaged. This book is perfect for visual learners and a good challenge for young readers too.
How we used the books
We used the books to help our activity hour out on the farm, finding something to tie in with many of the learning activities we do. Every time the children were drawn to the illustrations and challenges, from following desert trails to drawing sheep. I was thrilled with how like mountain sheep our Jacobs sheep and pigmy goats look, everyone can be an artist by following the “Let’s explore” guides to drawing.
I’m struggling to find anything negative to say about these gorgeous books, if I’m being very picky I’d say the sticker pages could do with being a little stronger, little fingers are inclined to rip them in excitement if not taking care, but really forewarned and this is not a problem.
Need to Know
|Size ||A4 paperback|
|Age Range||4 – 8|
|Book type||Activity, Educational|
Win your copy of 3 Let’s Explore books with Lonely Planet Kids and Coombe Mill
These books would be wonderful for supporting school learning, as a gift or for homeschooling. If you know children who would enjoy learning through these lovely books just follow the instructions below. Good luck to all taking part.
Lonely Planet: Let’s Explore
We were sent our copies of the books to write this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Our copies can be borrowed on holiday from the Coombe Mill Games Room.
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.