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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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.
What you’ll need
A reel of duck tape colours tape
Pens and pencils
An empty tin can
To make your Stationary Pot
Thoroughly wash a used tin can, we used an old evaporated milk can which had an attractive gold inside.
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
Carefully fold the overlapping centimetre of tape in to the tin and stick down.
Do the same at the bottom folding the centimetre spare underneath the tin.
Now wrap a strip around the middle to fully cover your tin.
To make your colourful pens and pencils
Take long thin strips of coloured floristry ribbon to coordinate with your pot.
Attach the ribbon to a small rectangle of Duck Tape Colours.
Starting at the tip of the pen attach the Duck Tape Colours.
Wrap the ribbon around the pen towards the top.
Secure the ribbon with another strip of Duck Tape Colours.
Leave a few strands of floristry ribbon at the top for fun and curling these with the edge of a pair of scissors.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
For my lead “Trash 2 Treasure” August post I detailed how of Farmer Nick made some amazing Woodland Mushroom Stools. He also used the base of the tree to make a table to place the mushrooms around. These have become the central focus of the fairy gardens in the largest clearing. It felt like an ideal opportunity to create a fairy themed tick tack toe board. On the lower levels of the fairy garden we have our bug hotel, so to continue the bug theme we made our counters into ladybirds and bees using pebbles from the beach.
It took the tractor and trailer together with the children to manoeuvre the huge slice of tree trunk into the fairy gardens and another into the end play area.
Once in place we made a wooden stencil template to create the criss cross boards then sprayed black wood paint on to the stencil. You could do it Free Hand but the stencil helped to keep the lines straight.
For the ladybirds and bees I painted beach pebbles with stone masonry white paint. When this was dry I went over the white with red or yellow then painting the black detailing on top to form the bugs. For the coloured paint I used outdoor gloss. I had painted extra pebbles up to add to the bug hotel. For here I also used some long thin pebbles to make centipedes and some round ones for spiders.
It took a couple of days for the gloss to dry before moving the pebbles to the tick tack toe table. I have reused the idea with the children staying for activity hour by handing out the pebbles with just white masonry paint on them allowing the children to make their own minibeasts with ordinary poster paint and adding googly eyes; great fun with no damage to clothes or skin.
In reality I’m not sure how much tic tack toe has been played, but the children holidaying here have loved seeing the lady birds and bees and making their own games up in the fairy garden. Our large painted pebbles, butterflies and other homemade trinkets have been endlessly moved collected and rearranged between the bug hotel mushroom stools and tic tac toe table in many an hour of imaginative play .
For more creative ideas on upcycling from things you would throw away or nature please join in with my Trash2Treasure linky which opens on the first Monday of each month and stays open till the end of the month. We also have three roles of colourful duck tape to be won each month from our partners at Duck Tape Colours.
Welcome to Trash 2 Treasure for August; the monthly link up sponsored by our friends at Duck Tape Colours. I’d love you to read what we have been upcycling and if you have a post to add please join me. All the linky guidelines are here so do jump on board.
Making Woodland Mushroom Stools
For this month’s Trash to Treasure post Farmer Nick’s skill comes into play in demonstrating how to carve a mushroom stool.
This was an idea I’ve had bubbling for months but was told I’d have to wait for the right tree to come down. We lost several in the winter storms but the trunks weren’t quite substantial enough to make the quality stools I had in mind. It was South Western Power that finally gave me my chance. One of our beautiful old oak trees had been hacked by them once too often along one side where it was dangerously overhanging the power cables to Coombe Mill, it was now looking unsafe to bear another year of full summer foliage and so we agreed it would have to come down. I couldn’t let a beautiful old tree like this go to waste.
All the chippings were used to renew the play areas and fairy garden pathways, smaller logs added to the log store and smaller branches given to the rabbits as extra play obstacles. The more substantial and similar similar width logs were held back for Nick to try his hand at carving mushroom stools. Nothing goes to waste here!
I can honestly say Nick had never tried chain saw carving before but he had watched the experts at work at country fairs and is a natural at all DIY. Each stool took about 10 minutes and his method for carving them worked a treat.
Remember to wear full chain saw clothes including steel capped boots, chain saw trousers and head and eye protection.
Place the log on its most stable end end
Shave the top of the log so that it’s rounded
Lay the log on its side and make a groove all the way round a little way below the rounded top. Make it about approximately 7cm deep being careful not to saw right through the log.
Shave a v shape from just below the circular groove up to the grove
Keep working this same line down the trunk towards the base turning the log after each motion.
Turn the saw around to finish off the base and ensure the mushroom ‘stalk’ is smooth
Stand the log back up and admire your finished mushroom stool!
A demonstration of making a wooden mushroom stool
Nick made seven stools in total which we placed in our fairy garden around a large trunk slice which made a table and stools. The children adore this space and can spend hours bringing many of our homemade fairy items in and out of the Fairy table. It is a delight to watch them and a great way to preserve a little piece of a great old tree.
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 format 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, like this month, 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 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 roles of tape to inspire your next project. Do check out their website for plenty of creative ideas.
Congratulations to Blossom and Badger who is July’s winner with upcycled old welly boots into funky planters.
Other inspired posts this month were:
The Free Range Family added some colour to their kitchen, upcycling old tin pots to look fresh and modern.
Some upcycling fun in the garden was had by 3 Kids and a Gluestick who turned an old pallet into a haven for bugs.
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
For activity hour this week I wanted to do something to introduce the children to our new bug hotel. It was a short step from here to forming a whole session on mini beasts.
I had a copy of the Superworm book by Julia Donaldson which I love and which many of the children were familiar with so we began our session over in the craft tent reading some of the fun situations in which super worm found himself.
With imaginations fired up I showed the children how they were going to make their very own super worm from wool and sticks. I have to confess this was a bit of an aptitude test for the parents too as they followed my instructions on finger knitting. The children all chose their Superworm colours and watched their worms grow along their parents finger before choosing a twig handle and the wool to watch their worm wriggle and squirm along the ground. If anyone fancies having a go at these I am going to follow up with a step by step tutorial over on my new linky #Trash2Treasure.
Worms completed we moved onto painting stone bugs like the ones living in our Fairy Gardens. The children finger painted bugs in their own designs on to the stones, some resembled real bugs while others created interesting make believe bugs, each were finished with googly eyes.
Our minibeast session was moving at quite a pace and next up I had pinned a lovely tutorial from Baby Budgeting some time ago for attracting butterflies to the trees. This was the perfect time to give it a go after not finding enough time on our butterfly and Caterpillar week. The children loved making their plate designs and it was something every age group could do to their own level.
We threaded string through the edges of the plates and took them over to the fairy gardens and bug hotel along with some old pot plant holders. Over in the gardens we added a few slices of banana to everyone’s plate and pot before hanging up the plates and wedging the pots in to any spare nook and cranny in the bug hotel.
We searched under logs and round canes for some real live minibeasts but didn’t manage to spot any as the Hotel is still very new. However I knew just where there would be some and took the children into the higher levels of the Fairy Gardens to look under the tree stumps. Sure enough a plethora of worms, woodlice and the like scurried away from the light to the children’s delight. They proceeded to lift every stump and giggle and the hive of activity that lay beneath picking them up where they could.
It was such a fun way to spend our hour and many of the parents were thrilled with the children’s reaction to the bugs thanking me for making the creepy crawlies so exciting.
If you are fans of the Superworm story, you may be interested to know that The Forestry Commission have a Superworm Trail running over the summer in many of their woods. It’s a great Country Kids day out at just the price of parking the car. If you are staying with us then Cardinham Woods is the closest at about 25 minutes drive from Coombe Mill.
Joining in with Country Kids
Country Kids is all about inspiring families to enjoy time outdoors away from sofas and screens. If you have a post that fits please do come and share with me. All outdoor fun including playing, crafting, learning and discovering are welcome. Please do check out some of the other posts linked up, there are always some great ideas to inspire your next outing.
Country Kids is around in these communities, I’d love you to join me:
Pin on the Pinterest Board Just ask for an invite to pin and include Country Kids on your pins for me to stop by on your boards too (no need for a hash tag in Pinterest)
“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.