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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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!
I had a real mixed age range for half term on the farm and wanted to come up with a craft that would appeal to them all, especially the 9 and 10 year old boys who I suspected wouldn’t join in if the activity wasn’t spot on. I’ve not run a session of bow and arrow making in years, however I had inkling it would be right up these boys street from youngest to oldest. I was right, despite being the nicest day of the week I had quite a gathering return from the beach in time to join in.
I had enlisted the help of Guy who, reliving his own childhood had made a template for us to follow. He and his brothers then proceeded to fire it around the garden and I was worried it wouldn’t survive till activity hour! Turns out it was well made and only a lost bow into the trees needed recreating.
Sticks from the Fairy garden
Guy had been pruning some trees for Farmer Nick and saved the best bow style twigs to scatter in the fairy Gardens for the children to find. They also each chose a length of bamboo for a lightweight arrow.
Back at the craft tables Guy whittles notches in the end of the bows and arrows. He also explains a little knife safety.
Making a Bow and Arrow
Now we were ready to turn twigs into bows and arrows. We used strong string in the groves cut by Guy to create the bow. A length about 20 cm over the length of the stick is ideal for tying and tensioning. A slight bend in the stick will occur, just like a real bow.
Bow and arrow decoration
We used a mix of colourful floristry ribbon and wool to decorate our bow and arrows. Some of the boys just wanted to go straight into play, but when I reminded them we needed to identify whose arrow went furthest they relented and began to choose their colours and materials. By the end even the most reluctant was embellishing their design with a wrap around hand grip.
Making a Target board
To make things more fun I laid a white sheet down on the slope of a hill and the children helped me paint around a dustbin lid to make a target. This is perfect for giving them a direction to fire in and something safe to aim for.
Target practice fun
Needless to say they had a great time firing at their DIY target. To make things fair the younger children were helped by parents and stood closer. The older ones relished the challenge of standing further and further back.
Tips if you try this at home
Tension good quality the string well.
Use a stick with a slight bend for the bow but not too flexible or it may snap.
Keep the stick to a maximum of ground to chin height, otherwise it may become unwieldy to use.
Arrow needs to be long enough to pull back without going beyond the string.
Ensure arrow is straight to control direction.
Having a target keeps a focal point to the firing.
Make sure children are supervised with using the knife.
Why not make a nature crown or headdress to go with your bow and arrow.
Easter Holidays bring Easter crafts. Here on the farm the weather has been dry and sunny inspiring plenty of fun on the farm and friendship building. We have been rounding off the Easter weeks with a lovely nature inspired outdoor Easter card and decorative log craft session.
Setting the challenge
It is always a joy to be able to set up outdoors in the sunshine for our craft session. I was soon joined by some eager crafters keen to discover what we would be making. I showed them my example Easter card and Decorative log pointing out that none of the things to make theirs were in sight. This had them a little confused, until I handed out a list of things for them to go and find for themselves in the fairy gardens.
They didn’t need telling twice and raced off with their lists in search of all the things they would need. There was quite a few items to collect and it kept them busy hunting.
Easter Decorative Log Craft
Once back at the craft table, the children set straight to work on their log craft. In anticipation of a large group I had a big tub of flour and water paste ready for them to all dig in and start designing. I love the creativity that emerged, they may have taken inspiration from my log, but they certainly added their own Easter design and took an enormous amount of pride in their creation.
As the finishing touches were added to the decorative logs I began to explain how to twist the wool around their Easter card frame.
Next they scoured the surrounding field for pretty spring flowers and leaves to weave into the frame. Finally they opened their cards to write and draw their chosen Easter Messages.
A treat from the Easter Bunny
They were some delightful results with both the Easter cards and decorative logs. With so many attending I was glad I had prepared well with all the basic elements, leaving the children with the creative finding and decorating. I know from our Christmas Logs and Halloween Logs just how much time they can take. There was just one final treat, the Easter Bunny had revisited the Fairy Garden while the children were working and hidden some little chocolate bunnies for them to find.
“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.