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.
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As summer fades into autumn I like to take advantage of the abundance of blackberries here on the farm. Foraging, baking and crafting are a perfect use of blackberries. I try to mix things up a little each year so nothing is quite the same as the year before. While I had tried a version of all of these activities before, none of them were quite the same. There was something new with our blackberry fabric printing crafts for even our most regular guests.
I handed out collecting tubs and we headed down to the river bank for a power 15 minute blackberry collecting session.
Health and Safety Awareness
Back at the craft tables, Guy led the children to wash their hands while I washed the blackberries to flush out any creepy crawlies.
All cleaned up we were ready to start work. I have a tried and trusted recipe for muffins which is ideally suited to adding any additional ingredient, like blackberries, and also easy for children to measure. With each child adding an ingredient and taking turns stirring while others set out the paper cases there is something to keep everyone in a large group engaged.
Blackberry Fabric Printing Crafts
Blackberry stained fairy clothes
While the muffins cooked in the oven I tipped out a bag of fairy clothes cut outs on to the table. The children had to find pairs of clothes lay out blackberries on one and squish the other on top. I stapled them all onto a line of string to make a fairy washing line to go in the fairy gardens above the new fairy house.
Blackberry tie dyed flags
Our final activity involved winding loom bands tightly around sections of triangular fabric. Next we dunked the fabric in blackberry juice before opening the fabric to reveal some fun circular designs. The children collected a stick for me to staple their tie dye triangle round to make a flag.
By the time the flags were completed the muffins were ready to eat. Even those who claimed not to like blackberries tried one. I think being involved in the whole cooking process makesw children more inclimed to have a taste. There were very few left for me to take home which is always the real test.
Each of these activities are both fun and educational for children. They held their attention and yet cost very little to put together. I would recommend them for a garden birthday party or perhaps a play date at home.
A sunny afternoon with a group of 2 – 6 year olds calls for some creative make believe. It is ages since I’ve focussed on our natural woodland here and the magic of the fairy garden. This was the week to change that with a creative afternoon of woodland wizards and fairies.
Usually I set up for activity hour outside the games room on the grass, however as this session was all about wizardry and the imagination that comes from our fairy garden I thought this would make the ideal place for our creative fun and set up the little bench table in there.
We began with nature crowns; these are something I’ve used in many guises before. Double sided sticky tape on stripes of cereal card is perfect. All the kids need to do is decide what nature they want to feature on their headdress.
Another one we have done before but perfectly suited to the fairy garden where there are sticks and twigs in abundance. We simply used tape and ribbons to decorate the sticks into make believe wands.
Capes for Woodland Wizards and Fairies
For this I used old duvet covers from the business that were in my reject pile for being marked. I cut them into cape size rectangles for the children. They used paint and nature to print their capes then chose coloured ribbon to feed through slits in the top to wear as magic woodland wizards and fairies.
It was a lovely way to pass an afternoon and the children loved the setting. If they finished any of their activities early there was always plenty of fun in the fairy garden to keep them occupied until others caught them up. It would make a great them for a play date or birthday party and is surprising easy and cheep to do.
What you’ll need to create your own woodland wizards and fairies activity
colourful ribbons or wool
double sided sticky tape
Rectangles of material
stapler (if attaching nature)
All the fun of creating woodland wizards and fairies on film
I do enjoy the school holidays with an older group of children keen to embark on an adventure. It is a chance for me to indulge in some of the childhood fun I enjoyed with my own children. I had been toying with making teepees’ for a while. With just the right place in mind and the perfect age group signed up to activity hour, I seized the opportunity.
Welly Walk Challenge
The Welly Walk was my chosen campsite. It is accessed across the farm so I set the children up with a fun activity sheet for the journey and had all the things we needed already down there.
How to Make a DIY Teepee
Having collected a duvet cover, 3 bamboo canes and some farm bailer twine the kids set to work creating their own bespoke Teepee. I showed them a photo and recommended style and then sat back to watch them create.
Spray painting DIY Teepee Designs
It wasn’t long before the teepees were taking shape. I opened up a bag of watered down poster paint in old window cleaner bottles and invited the children to spray paint their own personalised designs on the covers. It was such a lovely activity, the paint easily washed off clothes and skin and there was nothing to spoil or worry about. We even had a handy babbling stream next to us to rinse hands.
The final touch was stapling a square of material around a stick for a camp flag.
The kids were thrilled with the finished results and piled into their camps. It was lovely to see how much the parents enjoyed it all too.
While we were busy building our DIY teepees Guy had been making a fire pit campfire for us. The children wasted no time crowding round to take a marshmallow or lump of cookie dough to toast. There were some hungry children after all that creative camp building happy to indulge.
the benefit of my chosen location was in any spare minute not only was there the stream to splash around in but also the Coombe Mill rope swing to enjoy.
No wonder I ended up heading home and leaving families enjoying the afternoon at their newly made camps.
Tips for Making your own DIY Teepee with Children
Provide the basic equipment but leave then enough scope to make it themselves, or help make it depending on age
Outdoors is perfect for spray painting and pushing bamboo into the ground, but an indoor version could be handy on a wet day.
Campfire is optional but a lovely way to support the outdoor living idea. Make sure any fire is well supervised; hair hanging over the fire is a real hazard.
If you are planning a spot at distance prepare well so you are not running back and forth. Here is my check list:
For DIY Teepee Making:
Scissors, stapler, duvet, bailer twine (string is just as good) DIY spray paint, bamboo canes or long sticks (3 per teepee)
And for the campfire:
Fire pit stones, sticks, firelighters, matches, marshmallows, cookie dough or other things to cook.
Raft racing isn’t a new concept to us on the farm. It has been a popular activity hour for years. Typically we run a junk modelling version around Easter and a Nature Raft Race in August. Having missed the Easter slot this year with other Easter crafts, I wanted to resurrect the activity. With 15 children signed up, and a terrible forecast of rain, it felt like the right week.
I spent the week collecting and washing up all the bottles from the Coombe Mill recycling centres and added to this a pile of sticky tape from the £1 shop.
Junk Model Raft Building in the Games Room
Having set the bottles and tape up in the games room the children all crowded round to start building and creating. Before long the games room was a hive of creative chatter as bottles clinked and tape ripped.
A splash of colour.
When the basic models had been created the children brought them outside to add paint. I had filled a collection of empty cleaning spray bottles with a watered down paint mix. These were perfect for squirting the inside of the clear bottles to bring colour without mess. The children could still hold the outside and with the lids replaced the river wouldn’t wash the colour away.
A little technical help
I gave a few tips on buoyancy and the need to weight rafts. The children graped this at once and braved the rain in search of sand and gravel to weight their rafts, and a few decorative bits for effect.
Ready to Race
Finally we set off for our launch bridge. Despite the pouring rain the children stood for a photo with their rafts of the steps
Then they all lined up waiting for “Ready steady Go” before dropping them into the water.
The rain after weeks of dry was just what was needed to give the rafts a bit of speed in the water. I had Guy waiting to wade downstream after them and ensure none were grounded or caught up in the banks along the way.
Everyone’s a Winner
Farmer Nick was on hand with fishing nets to catch the rafts and declare the winners for me. I had certificates ready laminated not just for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the race but also for team work, best technical raft and most creative. This ensured a good spread of success for all.
It was certainly a soggy affair, but everyone enjoyed our junk model raft race and it was a wonderful way to enjoy a little outdoor fun on a wet afternoon.
Tips for creating your own Junk Model Raft Race
Save up all your plastic bottles including the lids.
Keep back a few empty spray bottles for the paint. Water the paint 50 /50 with water so it sprays through the bottle. Use clear bottles like window cleaner so the colour is obvious.
The pound shops do some great £1 coloured sticky tape that is easy to share out a roll per team.
A great activity on a local river but make sure you have a safe place for wading or nets to catch the rafts.
Medals or certificates for aspects other than winning, like team work and creativity, reward different skill sets.
Be vigalent at all times around water and never race after a storm or when the river is running to fast to safely enter.
Identification DIY flags or nature are a fun way to decorate the rafts.
Remember the heaviest side will end up face down so weight your raft wisely to float upright. We used sand and gravel.
It must have been the hottest few weeks of the summer and I was worried everyone would stay on the beach rather than return to the farm to join me for a dinosaur dig led activity hour. I should have more faith, as 4pm approached each week I heard the cars driving back and the children rushing along the footpath to join me. Dinosaurs had sparked their imaginations and they were keen to find out what we would be doing.
The book gave the children inspiration for how to colour in my pre-cut dinosaurs. These came from a lovely activity book by Orchard Toys, traced onto cereal boxes. The children took their time creating their own bespoke dinosaur design before choosing a ribbon colour and hanging them around their necks. Older children cut out the dinosaur shapes themselves.
Painting Dinosaur Models
From previous craft activities, I knew how solid flour and water sets as a paste. This gave me the inspiration to experiment with a stiff flour and water mix in some dinosaur biscuit cutters. I made them in advance leaving them to set overnight, however in the morning they were still quite pliable. Figurring that they just need to dry out more, I popped them in the oven at a low heat turning them every 10 minutes. Within half an hour they were set solid and I left them to cool before taking them along for our craft sessions.
The children had great fun painting them in their own choice of colours and designs into some truly unique stegosauruses and friends.
We left our model dinosaurs drying in the afternoon sun while we headed off on a dinosaur trail to find the dinosaur dig.
The children had to find the different dinosaurs from the Orchard Toys book I’d printed and stuck up along the trail. They had no trouble spotting them and showing me which way they were facing and therefore which way our trail would take us. Each picture had the dinosaurs name, together with the phonetic spelling, which the children attempted at each stop.
The final clue led us to the dinosaur dig. Hiding by the river were blocks of ice with dinosaurs cunningly encased inside. The children soon worked out they would need either a large stone to bash the ice and free their dinosaur from its ice age casing. It makes a creative learning activity and a change from hidding the dinasaurs in the sand pit which I’ve done in the past.
Collecting the children together for a photo by the river with their dinosur dig finds was a callenge. There is always someone looking the worng way, but that’s real life!
I collected the dinosaur clues up on our way back. A few of the children stayed behind to colour in their favourites that matched their model dinosaurs.
How to create your dinosaur Dig at home
Buy an inexpensive pack of plastic dinosaurs.
Pop each dinosaur in a tub of water. I recycled supermarket cartons from veg like mushrooms.
Place the tubs in the freezer to set overnight.
Print off some dinosaur pictures and set them out to make a trail.
Turn out the dinosaurs in ice ( you may need to run them under a warm tap to loosen them).
Place the dinosaur dig ice packs at the last clue.
Let the kids loose on the trail.
The children really enjoyed their dinosaur afternoon each week and would quite happily have carried on making more things. All except one girl that is, who declared she preferred unicorns to dinosaurs. My mind is already working ahead now on a unicorn version!
“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.