Life Underwater Studies for Preschool Kids

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.


Life Underwater studies for Preschool Kids


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.


Play Orchard Toys Little Bug Bingo on holiday.


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


Matching game to understand the frog lifecycle


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.


Studing life underwater in a mini pond in a bucket


Underwater life seen through a bucket pond sample


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.


Fishing game played with 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.

Nature walk to study life underwater


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


Studying Life underwater worksheets by the lake


We came back a different route stopping to check the frog hiding under the bridge.


Spotting the Coombe Mill frog 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



Country Kids

Let’s Explore with Lonely Planet Kids

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.


Lonley planet Kids Lets Explore Sticker Books

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.  


Lonely planet kids pages from lets explore sticker books

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.

Using lets explore sticker books from Lonely Planet Kids

Any drawbacks

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
Available from
  • Lonely Planet Kids
  • Amazon
Age Range4 – 8
Book typeActivity, Educational



Win your copy of 3 Let’s Explore books with Lonely Planet Kids and Coombe Mill

Lets Explore Cities, Mountians and Deserts Sticker Books from Lonely Planet Kids

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.

First Jigsaw Puzzle ideal for 2 Year olds

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.


First Jigsaw Puzzle from Orchard Toys

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.


Child at Coombe Mill Holidays completing Orchard Toys first jigsaw.jpg


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.


Enjoying making Orchard Toys First Jigsaw: Once Upon a Time

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


Win Once Upon a Time First Jigsaw Puzzle


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.


Cut and Colour Playbook for Creative Kids

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.

Learning on the Feed Run at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays, Cornwall, England, UK

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.

Activity Hour throughout the Seasons at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays, Cornwall, England, UK.

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.

Book Covers at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays, Cornwall, England, UK.

 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.

Cutting and Colouring the Book at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays, Cornwall, England, UK.

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

Win a Cut and Colour Playbook for Creative Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays, Cornwall, England, UK.

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.

Trash 2 Treasure – September

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.


Back to School Stationary Pot Stationary Pot

What you’ll need

  • A reel of duck tape colours tape
  • Forestry ribbon
  • Notepad
  • Pens and pencils
  • An empty tin can

What You'll need stationary pots


To make your Stationary Pot

  1. Thoroughly wash a used tin can, we used an old evaporated milk can which had an attractive gold inside.

  2. 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

  3. Carefully fold the overlapping centimetre of tape in to the tin and stick down.

  4. Do the same at the bottom folding the centimetre spare underneath the tin.

  5. Now wrap a strip around the middle to fully cover your tin.
Stationary pots method

To make your colourful pens and pencils

  1. Take long thin strips of coloured floristry ribbon to coordinate with your pot.

  2. Attach the ribbon to a small rectangle of Duck Tape Colours.

  3. Starting at the tip of the pen attach the Duck Tape Colours.

  4. Wrap the ribbon around the pen towards the top.

  5. Secure the ribbon with another strip of Duck Tape Colours.

  6. Leave a few strands of floristry ribbon at the top for fun and curling these with the edge of a pair of scissors.
Decorated Pencils

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Other ideas

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 2 Treasure sponsored by Duck Tape UK with Coombe Mill Holidays for creative fun.


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

If you link up I’ll send you an invite to pin on my Trash 2 Treasure Pinterest board

           Follow Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays’s board Trash 2 Treasure. on Pinterest.



Please grab my badge and join me on my crafting journey.    




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