How to make a Chinese Lantern

Posted on January 1st, 2017 - Fiona

I love how national events are slowly becoming international events. When I was growing up I had never heard of Chinese New Year, for my children it is quite different, even in primary school there were crafts and Chinese food to mark the occasion. While we don’t celebrate Chinese New Year I like my children to be aware of different cultures and events and when they take place. A craft is a good way to do this. I decided it would be a fun to make a chinese lantern with the children at Coombe Mill. We had a little look at the pages about China in my lonely planet Kids cities of the world book, discussed Chinese symbols from my printable below and then set about making some Chinese Lanterns.   

How to make a Chinese Lantern

What you’ll need to make a Chinese Lantern

  • Toilet Roll

  • Scissors

  • Red Paint

  • Yellow or Gold Paint

  • Black or Gold Marker Pen

  • Yellow or Gold Floristry Ribbon
what you'll need for Chinese Lanterns


Method for making a Chinese Lantern

paint it redPaint your toilet roll red and put it aside to dry
Squash the toilet roll and cut a long thin strip from each side leaving a good cm untouched at the top and bottom cutting-the-lantern-holes
cutting the rest of the lantern holes Open your toilet roll and flatten again in a new place about 2 cm round from the first squish and cut another two strips along both sides. Repeat once or twice more until you have strips spaced around your toilet roll.
Now bend the toilet roll gently in half across the middle of the strips, open and push the toilet roll end to end to so the lantern shape pops out from the fold line. folding and squashing the lantern
Cutting the lantern handles Cut two thin strips from the end towards the centre (without cutting all the way through) and lift to form handles.
Cut a length of red, orange and yellow floristry ribbon and split them in half Creating the floristry ribbon candles
Cutting the Floristry Ribbon into Candle shapes Cut the ends of a half of each colour into a point matching a Candle flame
Split the remaining three halves in half again, curl with scissors and organise with the flame style floristry ribbon Floristry ribbon flame
Stapling the flame in the lantern Staple onto the lantern for a flame effect inside
Use Yellow / gold paint to accessorise your lantern Painting the decorations
Draw your decorations on Add Chinese symbols with a black or gold marker pen. (There are some simple symbols with happy greetings on the printable below)


Printable Chinese Symbols.

Chinese Symbols

A few alternatives you could try

  • Try yellow lanterns with red trim.

  • Add your lanterns onto a length of string or floristry ribbon to form lantern bunting

  • Hang your lanterns over fairy lights to create light up bunting.
  • Place on a saucer over a tea light for a table decoration (don’t add the pretend floristry ribbon flame for this option).

  • Add a little glue and glitter if required (or you could add this to the red paint when it is still wet.
A few extra ideas for the Chinese Lanterns


A Vlog tutorial on making a Chinese Lantern



Making a  Chinese Lantern in Activity Hour on the Farm


Making a chinese lantern for Chinese New Year at Coombe Mill Activity Hour

Do you celebrate Chinese New Year or feel it is important for children to be aware of such events?

Trash 2 Treasure

Vlogging Bloopers from the farm in 2016

Posted on December 26th, 2016 - Fiona

So with a year of vlogging under my belt you’d have thought I’d have mastered the art by now and made vlogging bloopers a thing of the past. It turns out, when I look back through my video clips from the year; this is far from the case. On the contrary, my crafting projects in particular are riddled with retakes thanks to moments of memory loss and things that didn’t quite work out as easy as they should have been when filming!

Last year I shared the silly outtakes and even though I’d hoped there wouldn’t be any this year I’ve managed to pull together a hefty collection of the bits that were edited out of all my published blogs.  It feels a waste to just hit delete on them when many of them make me laugh looking back. As a result I find myself competing with my own mistakes in another year of vlogging bloopers edited to show off all my worst moments.  I hope they make you chuckle, and if you vlog yourself, please tell me you have a few of these hiding on your lap top somewhere too?

Coombe Mill Vlogging Bloopers for 2017

 If I’ve not put you off watching one of my real vlogs, they are largely part of my #Trash2Treasure upcycling posts. I’d love you to jump on board with the linky; no vlogging necessary, just sharing ideas for making something of value from something that might otherwise be thrown away or abandoned. The link up is the first Monday of each month lasting all month. December is still open and a new January link up will go live on the 2nd.

For now I leave you to continue with your family festivities and in my case way too much Gin! Just as well it is only Christmas once a year.


vlogging bloopers christmas message from Fiona

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Fiona xx


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Acorn Crafts from the Coombe Mill Oak Trees

Posted on December 9th, 2016 - Fiona

Autumn is perfect for foraging and the farm is rich in natures finest seasonal offering. I wanted to take advantage of the countless acorns falling all around this week and set about creating acorn crafts from a nature hunt.


Acorn crafts from the Coombe Mill Oak Trees


A Nature Hunt

We were spoilt for choice with where to go hunting, it could have been as close as the car park but the children told me they had seen lots over by one of the play areas so we set off there with a collecting tub each looking for oak leaves, acorns, acorn shells and a feather.


Collecting acorns and oak leaves in the Coombe Mill play area


Collecting in a play area naturally necessitated a little play too!


Collecting acorns and oak leaves for activity hour with a little play time too

A video posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on

Acorn Crafts for Kids

With our pots full we headed back to begin creating. The girls were very keen to try the jewellery first. I guessed this would be the hardest so it made sense to do it first moving to the messier painting afterwards. The adults helped me to skewer the acorns so the children could thread the acorns onto their string. They made a simple but fun nature necklace. For those happy to learn a little finger knitting we made stretchy bracelets with an acorn feature. This was pushing things for many of the little ones so we just pulled a couple of strands of wool through the acorns for a similar effect.


Making acorn jewellery at Coombe Mill


Whist wearing our jewellery we extended our acorn crafts to paint work. I had three separate challenges which all came together on one colourful card.

  • First we selected the shells from our collection and holding onto the stalks made geometric designs in overlapping colours.

  • Next we rolled acorns in paint and shook them on paper inside the tub to create messy art.

  • Finally we painted our oak leaves and made colourful prints.

Acorn shell printing in activity hour. #coombemill #farmstay #acorns #kidscraft #craftykids #countrykids #countrykidsfun #outdoors #painting #craft #autumncrafts

A video posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on


The children each chose a colourful backing card to mount their painted acorn crafts onto and then using feathers or a paint brush wrote their name on their card.


Acorn crafts with paint

It was a lovely way to explore nature from the Oak tree itself to the leaves that change colour and the acorns that fall in autumn.  


Country Kids


How to Make a Christmas Gift Tree Decoration

Posted on December 4th, 2016 - Fiona

I do love all the Christmas crafts around, there are so many lovely ideas for using up old packaging, making gift tags, recycling Christmas cards and turning toilet tolls into Christmas figurines. I wasn’t sure which of my ideas I wanted to share the most. In the end I settled on a very simple idea that my children adore: A Christmas gift tree decoration. A bit of a mouthful as it is two things in one, a little like a Christmas cracker but without the bang and so very simple to make.

How to Make a Cristmas Gift Tree Decoration

This will be the first year at Coombe Mill that we will have our games room to host our Christmas activities. I plan to put a Tree up in there and decorate it with a little Christmas gift tree decoration for each of the children staying this Christmas. It will be a little something extra for them to open while the adults are enjoying a glass of bubbly or two at our Christmas Eve Family Celebrations.


What You’ll Need


  • Toilet rolls 

  • Gift wrap string

  • Christmas wrapping paper (left over scraps are fine)

  • Scissors

  • Gift to fit inside your toilet roll

  • Christmas Message (optional)
What you'll need to make a Christmas Gift Tree Decoration


Here are the downloadable messages I used, click on the image below to get a printable version.

Christmas Greetings Printable


  1.  Seal one end of the toilet roll:
a) Press one end of the toilet roll inwards to make a dent.

b) Turn the toilet roll round 180 degrees and do the same
again to form  two peaks at one end

c) Fold the Two Peaks down
How to Make a Christmas Gift Tree Decoration step 1
How to Make a Christmas Gift Tree Decoration step 2 2. Place the Gift(s) inside the toilet roll with a Christmas message.
3. Fold the toilet roll end as above to achieve your sealed parcel. How to Make a Christmas Gift Tree Decoration step 3
How to Make a Christmas Gift Tree Decoration step 4 4. Wrap the gift in Christmas paper large enough to cover the shape. 

5. Take a piece of gift wrap string and create a cross design to hold the present together. 

Finishing  at the top with a double knot and enough string left to tie onto a branch of your tree.

How to Make a Christmas Gift Tree Decoration step 5
How to Make a Christmas Gift Tree Decoration step 6 6. Add your Christmas Gift Tree Decoration to your Christmas tree.

A few Extras you could try.

  • Try filling and wrapping match boxes instead of toilet rolls  

  • Why not look up a few Christmas Jokes to put inside instead of a Christmas Message?

  • Make them rustic style with brown paper and rough string and add a sprig of holly or Ivy.

  • Why not make 25 and use them as advent calendar presents. 
Match box and Rustic Christmas Gift Tree Decorations



How to Make a Christmas gift Tree Decoration Tutorial Vlog


Trash 2 Treasure

Colour by Nature Seasonal Activities for Kids.

Posted on December 2nd, 2016 - Fiona

Autumn colours are so beautiful and I was determined to have an activity hour to make the most of the rich seasonal colours on the farm. This was only a few weeks ago yet already the  vibrant leaves are few and far between now December is here. We do still have the last of the Hydrangeas from summer turning rich shades of blue and purple and the fuchsias are still blooming, though suffering from the frost this week, in our mild hidden valley. For our activity hour colour by number became colour by nature with some numbers thrown in too. A great afternoon of learning made fun for our preschool children.


Colour by Nature Autumn Activities for Kids

Nature Scavenger Hunt.

I find with preschool children that preparation is the key. Things need to be fast paced and easy to complete to keep their attention. I had an afternoon set up that I was sure would deliver.  Thankfully the weather was on my side and we were able to do everything outside without the children feeling the autumn chill.  After explaining what we would be doing, we set off with collecting trays in search of the colours of the rainbow in nature.


‘Colour by nature’ collecting colours of the rainbow from nature. #craft #activity #countrykids #countrykidsfun #coombemill #autumn #naturehunt #scavingerhunt #sunshine #fun #outdoors #kids #outdoorkids #holiday

A video posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on



Collecting nature for our farm colour by nature exercise


Colour by Nature.

Autumn is so rich in colour it wasn’t hard to fill our trays and the children returned to the craft table eager to begin colour matching their finds to the rainbow chart. I had already placed little pieces of double sided sticky tape already on the card so they were all ready to peel and stick. The children were quite competent with their colours and delightful in their enthusiasm to complete the task.



‘Colour by nature’ filling in our colour charts from Autumn leaves and flowers on the farm. #activityhour #countrykidsfun #holiday #outdoorkids #craft #craftykids #homeeducation #education #kidslearning #learningisfun #learningbydoing #activekids #creative #creativity #creativekids

A video posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on



Making colour by nature cards for Activity Hour at Coombe Mill Farm Holidays


Colour by Numbers.

By the time we finished, the one year olds were tired but the others were all keen to join in my colouring farm game. Each child choose a different coloured pen and take it in turns to roll two dice , add the numbers together, find the farm animal with that number and colour it in. This is in our early years educational section on the Coombe Mill website, as developed with twinkl UK, however, at just age two and three, I wasn’t sure they would manage it. The children really surprised me and colour by nature became colour by numbers.

colour by Numbers with the Coombe Mill Early Years Education sheets


Painting with Nature.

As they took the last few turns at rolling the dice I sensed their concentration waning and set up a table of paints. This was just what they needed. Once again colour by nature was in control as they painted the remaining scavenger hunt items and printed them onto paper. Energies were revived and concentration was back up to 100%. We had dinosaur steps with sound effects, raindrop splashes and all sorts of creative ideas flowing from the nature prints.


Nature painting crafts. #kidscraft #naturecraft #autumncraft #toddlercrafts #activeminds #activekids #countrykids #outdoors #outdoorkids #craftykids #nature #learning #homeschool #homeeducation #painting #paint

A video posted by Coombe Mill (@coombemill) on



Colour by Nature Painting at Coombe Mill

The Colour Experiment.

The children left armed with all their good work for the afternoon, but not before one last colour test: to see what colour would result when all the paints were mixed together. The result was, unsurprisingly for the grownups, a sludgy autumnal brown!   I did feel sorry for the parent left with taking home the brown mixing plate as an extra souvenir from a fun afternoon.




If you have a preschooler age 2 to 5 I really recommend ‘colour by nature’ as a great afternoon of learning made fun.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall