Posted on March 25th, 2017 - Fiona
Last week Farmer Nick came home with three new goats, who are settling in just fine with us. This week he left me a little box of pound shop chicks on my desk. He was in Plymouth with time to spare and randomly thought of my activity hour when he saw this little bargain box of 20 chicks in the pound shop within the Easter craft display.
I was thrilled; Easter is always such a fun time on the farm but with many regular guests returning I like to come up with different crafts each year. The challenge was on to find a use for these dear little fluffy chicks. My immediate thought was little Easter baskets, some mini eggs and a chick inside. I took some coloured paper to test out my idea and I’m rather pleased with the result.
I will add to this with some form of Easter nature trail to challenge the children as well as our famous Easter Sunday Egg Hunt. Now all we need for Easter is some baby chicks and sunshine. Nick is busy collecting eggs from our Rhode Island Red chickens that have just started to lay again, but sadly they won’t hatch in time for Easter. All is not lost though as we did have baby bunnies born earlier this week. Another couple of weeks and they will hopefully look more like rabbits than mice! However I do hope I’m not sharing too soon, rabbits make poor mothers and are inclined to give up on their brood for reasons known only to them. Fingers crossed for these little cuties.
We do still have a few spaces over the holiday weeks if you fancy joining in with our Easter craft activities as well as meeting our Easter bunnies and new born lambs.
Do you have a special Easter craft or activity planned?
Posted on March 24th, 2017 - Fiona
Despite having quite a few staying with us, our craft and activity hour clashed with the best day of the week and most of our guests had taken advantage of a chance to visit the beach. I had just one little girl come along who had been looking forward to it all week. Having stayed before I knew she would be fine on her own and at just 4 years old I took a gamble she would be up to understanding the frog life cycle and the associated crafts I had planned.
We began by talking about frogs and seeing if we could find one in the My first Animals book I had just reviewed. This proved no problem.
Encouraged by her understanding I moved onto explaining the life cycle from frogspawn to tadpoles, froglet and finally frog with some helpful printables to match and label.
At just four I was keen not to overdo the formal worksheets on holiday so we set off in search of frogspawn on the farm. I’d double checked beforehand that the place I’d identified last week still had some frogspawn there.
What I hadn’t tried before was wading into the depths of the stream to pull some out. It was very boggy and I didn’t want our guests stuck in the mud so I volunteered to carefully step down the bank and pull some up in our bucket. To our complete joy there was not only live frogspawn but tadpoles already formed and swimming around. We tipped the contents of the bucket into a jam jar to carry back to the art table and have a closer look, stopping on the way to see the toad under the bridge, a little clue along our wildlife trail. At this moment I wished he was a frog, but it was a chance to explain the difference.
Getting the magnifying glass out we were able to see plenty of movement in the jar.
While the tadpoles swam round we drew frogspawn with chalk on black paper. This was super effective and easy to create a lifelike effect.
We skipped drawing tadpoles and moved onto our creative frog game. In no time a toilet roll and a stick had become a frog with a fly to catch. I promised it was possible and had the parents both trying as well as the little girl.
With some pre-made paper frogs we squeezed in one more activity, decorating frogs that jumped and then laughing over table top frog races.
Time ran away from us and we caught up with the other families returning from their days out for a last train ride. There was great interest in the crafted frog game and our little 4 year old kindly let the other children have a go with her frog.
I’m so pleased I didn’t shy away from taking on the frog life cycle theme with just one, it was great to have the time and energy to ensure understanding in one so young and the frog turned into a wonderful keepsake game.
Have you tried explaining the frog life cycle to little ones?
Posted on March 5th, 2017 - Fiona
If you are a cook who likes to use fresh herbs, you may well be like me and have a window ledge full of little pots ready to take a cutting to add to recipes. Mine were beginning to look rather messy scattered amongst a couple of neglected pot plants and during a kitchen clear up I suddenly had the urge to tidy this area. With some new glittery Duck Tape Colours that matched my kitchen perfectly and a pub drinks holder from a box of goodies kindly been given for our farm crafts a plan for a potted herb holder was formed. It would also make a great activity for kids to give on Mother’s Day.
What You’ll Need
Pub Drinks Holder
Duck Tape Colours
Supermarket growing herbs or herbs with a little root from the garden in good compost.
Collect 4 herbs in matching pots.
Cut strips of your chosen duck tape colours to cover the outside of the pub tray..||
Take care to cut and tuck around the drink holder spaces to give a smooth finish on top.|
Pop your growing herbs into the drink spaces and arrange on a light surface or window ledge
Snip leaves as needed
Water regularly according to instructions: Basil I find needs a daily top up but coriander and Rosemary need very little.
Replace as required.
A few alternatives you could try.
Instead of throwing the pots away when the herbs are used, try planting some spring seeds in them or succulents
Look for other containers that will fit the holes. I found Robinson’s squash bottles a perfect fit and cut these to size, added a little duck tape colours to the raw edge at the top and filled them with gravel before adding tin can flowers and tissue paper flowers. This makes a crafty alternative to the potted herb holder for spring that is great to do with children.
If you don’t have access to a pub drinks holder, you could cut holes in the top of a cereal box.
Vlog tutorial on making a potted herb holder
Posted on March 3rd, 2017 - Fiona
After a quiet January it was lovely to see the number of visitors back up at Coombe Mill for the half term school holiday. We had been away ourselves for a few days mid week, but were back in time for an afternoon of springwatch themed crafting fun. What a delight to discover a group of children who had become the best of friends during the week.
Eager to begin with our spring crafts we started by painting pictures of the farm snowdrops. As always the little ones had to wait for the older ones who were creating some beautiful meadow scenes.
When everyone was finished we searched around for some sticks that would be needed for the next two crafts.
Returning to the table our longer stick was used as the stem of a daffodil, the head being created out of a toilet roll.
The children knew just the place for their daffodils. They had been working on a den together during the week and decided daffodils were just what were needed to finish it off. Carefully they carried them over to our den building area to show off their den and plant their daffodils around.
I love this photo of them all crowded inside.
We hunted around from here for signs of spring to take back to the craft table. The Camellias were out, as well as the daffodils and snowdrops, so there were plenty of colours to find.
The children arranged their spring treasures along a strip of paper which I helped them tape into place.
Next we curled and fixed the paper around two short sticks to make film and used some old chocolate egg boxes I’d been saving since last year to make a TV.
As if by magic their spring finds were now on a TV show!
My thanks to Cheryl from Time To Craft, who reminded me I was storing my egg boxes to make TVs with this post linked to my #Trash2Treasure Link up.
All the children embraced our springwatch crafts with such enthusiasm I shall be using elements from this session again over the coming weeks. We have good availability throughout March if you fancy joining us.
Have you been on springwatch in your local area?
Posted on February 5th, 2017 - Fiona
With Valentine’s Day clashing with the half term holidays I like to do something fun to mark the occasion with the children staying here at Coombe Mill. While they may be too young for the romantic side of Valentine’s Day, they have no difficulty with the concept of love, especially family love and hearts as a symbol of this. Last year we made some fun heart charms for the children to remember their holiday and hang in their gardens at home. I hung my Coombe Mill valentine’s charm up in the Fairy Gardens and would you believe a year later it is still twirling in the breeze. On the basis of how well they lasted I decided to make a country trail for the children with them this year and share with you here how to make one yourself.
What you’ll need to make a Valentine’s Charm
- Cardboard, a cereal box is ideal
- Duck tape colours of your choice
- Floristry ribbon
- Draw a heart shape on a piece of card to the size you want your charm to be and a smaller heart inside.
- Cut out the outer and inner heart.
- Cut strips of duck tape colours and cover the card ensuring all exposed edges are covered to keep your charm waterproof.
- Cut a long length of floristry ribbons and tear into 2 or three pieces.
- Wrap the ribbons round the heart from the centre leaving two long ends for hanging
- Hang your valentine’s charm the garden.
A few alternatives to try
Ideas for early year’s children:
Try cutting different shapes for young children and using them to learn and match shapes and colours.
Make different sizes and see if children can order them from smallest to biggest.
Make your valentines charm into a necklace or medal for all the family to wear on Valentine’s Day.
Ideas with older children
Turn them into pretty bunting in the garden or living room.
Make a Valentines Nature Trail or Treasure hunt as we are doing with clues or nature facts tucked into the floristry ribbon.
I hope you will find a use for these cute valentines charms, they are so simple to make and very long lasting even outdoors.
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