Posted on April 13th, 2018 - Fiona
I love Easter time. The farm is bursting with new life and the options for Easter crafts seem endless. I had so many ideas for activity hour around the Easter theme and an eager group to come and join me on Good Friday.
Making Easter Bunny bonnets
Easter wouldn’t be complete without an Easter Bunny. We have 3 new little bunnies on the farm and I thought I’d make some Easter bunny bonnets with the children. This was a very simple but effective craft from a paper plate and strips of fabric. The children needed a little help cutting out their paper plate and negotiating the fabric with not very sharp kitchen scissors but apart from that it was all their own work.
The finished results certainly warranted a group photo
Designing Easter Eggs for the Fairies
Now wearing our Easter Bunnies we set about covering Easter egg card shapes in silver foil and decorating them with Duck Tape colours and floristry ribbon to make decorative Eggs for the Fairy Gardens.
Out last craft before going off to hang our eggs was to make Easter cards. The children delighted in carefully colouring the Easter egg designs before cutting them out to stick onto coloured card of their choice. Messages inside went to family members, it was lovely to see them colouring and writing in the chilly March weather and really taking pride in their work. We parent were all for moving on from our Easter Crafts but the children were determined to take their time to make their cards just perfect.
Hanging Easter Eggs and a thank you from the fairies
Finally everyone was ready to take their Eggs along to the fairy gardens and find a branch to hang it from.
There was one surprise left; the fairies had left some chocolate eggs to find in return for their beautiful decorative eggs. A treat no one could refuse!
It was a lovely set of Easter crafts to kick start our action packed Easter weekend here on the farm.
Posted on February 23rd, 2018 - Fiona
Our February half term activity hour is always well supported by our hardy winter guests. It may have been freezing cold but we had warm hearts inspired by fun Valentine’s Day crafts. We even included a little Valentine’s treat for the wild birds and the fairies that in turn rewarded the children.
While we waited for everyone to gather, we had a look at the new Orchard Toys jigsaw I’d been sent. The children had no problem putting it together and pointing out the things they could see. There was some pretty bunting included which I promised them they would be making later in the afternoon.
Valentine Day heart craft.
When everyone was gathered round we set to work on our first craft. We shaped clay into simple hearts, added a hole with the end of a paintbrush and painted them to make simple decorations for the children to keep.
Valentines treat for the birds.
The hearts were going to need time to set before they were taken home so we laid them aside to begin our next task. I had premixed melted lard and bird seed which was now just beginning to set and perfect for moulding into shapes. With their new found heart making skills from the clay the children made heart chunks for the birds. We wrapped them in wool for them to take back to their gardens and hang up for the birds. Everyone took a bird spotter sheet to go with their food so they could see which birds came to their gardens to eat during their holiday.
Valentine’s Day Cards.
A quick clean up and we were onto Valentine’s Day card making. Our first job was to find some pretty pink petals. The children knew just where to look and raced off towards the Coombe Mill train tack and our flowering pink camellia bush.
Armed with petals we returned and set about cutting paper cards with pop out hearts to which we stuck the petals with a flour and water glue mix. The children added their own messages and pictures to personalise their cards.
Valentine bunting for the fairies.
Finally we made some valentine bunting to decorate the fairy gardens full of happy wishes for the fairies. We hung this up and in return the fairies sent the children looking for hidden treats in the gardens. Magically there was one for everyone with some careful hunting high and low. I do love our Coombe Mill fairies!
I think I sent this group home happy and tired with fond memories of Valentine’s Day. Fingers crossed they slept well and gave their parents a lovely evening together too!
Valentine’s Day Crafts and Treats
Posted on January 19th, 2018 - Fiona
The New Year break sees plenty of guests returning to the farm to see out the old year and welcome in the new. It has become a bit of a tradition for us to turn New Year’s Eve into a fun day for the children with crafts in the afternoon and a party early evening. This year was no exception and I had a group of enthusiastic children waiting for me at the games room to discover this year’s crafts of making New Year Calendars and Firework Paintings.
Making New Year Calendars
Last year we made lanterns and safe sparklers which the kids adored so I was keen to come up with something new which would be as fun and themed again. My homemade calendars worked a treat and the children were full of ideas for things they wanted to add. Some coloured in all their school holiday dates while lots of ideas went into writing to do lists for January in one side of the pockets we created.
They were all made from cutting out the calendar from a free printable online, then using a cereal box to mount the calendar and add ‘to do’ sheets. I do like to bring our crafts back to nature or the farm and so we left a pocket on our mounted calendars free to add the month’s nature finds. This took us outside just as the rain stopped and a rainbow came out.
We weren’t going to have long before the next downpour and the children ran between the nearby bushes and the fairy gardens in search of the perfect piece of nature that shouted Coombe Mill in January to them.
Back inside we added the final touch of nature to our calendars and carefully put on one side while we ventured back out under the shelter of the games room porch for some messy painting fun.
I’d used spray painting last year in our autumn collages and thought it would work brilliantly with lots of different colours on black card as firework paintings against a night sky. I filled a selection of old spray bottles with coloured watered down poster paint and each child took it in turn to choose their firework colours and design.
It was great fun even if we did manage to spray the windows a little too! thankfully with poster paint it soon washed off.
We hung them up to dry whilst talking over the fireworks show that Farmer Nick would put on for them after the party later that evening. I will need to be very creative to come up with two such successful New Year’s Eve crafts next year.
Making New Year Calendars and Firework Paintings.
Posted on December 8th, 2017 - Fiona
Inspiration for my activity hour comes from following up on learning from a week on the farm and anything topical and nature related. This week it was a new book arriving from Lonely Planet Kids called “Where Animals Live” that had my mind spiraling off into an afternoon of discovery with the wild animals and their homes here on the farm.
Where animals live
The book is packed with everything from the smallest creepy crawly to foxes and badgers and it provided a great way to start our afternoon. The kids took to the book instantly, lifting flaps identifying the animals and recognising from the photos where and how to find their homes.
A pebble Mouse comes to life.
It was a glorious afternoon and as we closed the book I introduced our first craft. Adding clay to pebbles we made mice with little stick tails.
Handing the children an egg carton each, they ran off to fill them with soft nature bedding as a home for their mouse. I explained that really they would look for a hole to hide in like at the bottom of a tree but that leaves would make it comfy just like their egg cartons.
We took advantage of the late afternoon sun which still had some warmth to make clay spiders in their web homes. The children enjoyed molding their spiders and counting on the stick legs, and weaving webs for them into paper plates.
Adventure along the wildlife trail.
We have a wildlife trail set up around Coombe Mill with laminated clues to take from reception. These have been heavily used by our holiday guests over the past year but no one had been on it this week. Instead of the clue sheets we used the video clues from the website downloaded onto my tablet. This was not only very clear for the children but visual too so they knew just which animal they were looking for as we made our way across the farm following the audio and video clues.
I was amazed how much energy the children had racing from clue to clue. We stopped to look for bugs and where they lived in the fairy gardens and bug hotel.
We even found a real mouse hole in the bottom of a tree, along with mole hills hiding the underground mole runs and the odd squirrel and wild rabbit that ran across our path. The children found all the animals on the trail, squelched through puddles, discovered hidden areas of the farm and gained an insight into the wild animals living in nature alongside our farm animals.
Nature has so much to discover and it is a pleasure to introduce children to the life going on around them on the farm.
Posted on December 1st, 2017 - Fiona
We have classic English Oak trees all over Coombe Mill. In autumn they shed their pretty leaves, twigs and of course acorns. We have already looked at acorn collecting for the pigs as part of our pig crafts, this week I decided to major on the old oak tree itself and crafts based on its autumn shed. We have a lovely big oak tree hanging over the Coombe Mill car park and fairy gardens so we didn’t have to go far for all the goodies we needed for our crafts.
We began our session by splitting the group in two based on the different ages. The older ones were enjoying a farm counting game with dice from our education pages on the website while the younger ones used wax crayons to colour in hedgehogs as we would be making these later.
Searching under the old oak tree
Before we could continue we needed to go off in search of acorns, twigs and oak leaves. It didn’t take the children long to spot them scattered on the floor of the car park and fairy gardens. In no time their pots were brimming and as the rain increased in intensity we retreated under the veranda of the games room to start creating with our scavenged floor finds.
Reverse leaf printing
Instead of just painting leaves, we arranged our leaves on the reverse of cereal boxes and loosely taped them down before dipping fingers in autumn leaf colour paints to paint around the edges. We used a scrap of the box to make the trunk the same way and then spray painted grass from watered down poster paint all around.
When the leaves and card board were removed a clever leaf print tree remained. We set these on one side to dry and continued to our next craft.
Oak Tree Crafts – Clay hedgehogs
I can’t remember when I last brought the pot of air dry modelling clay out for a craft session. Anyway it was the perfect medium to hold acorns and twigs in place as the body of our hedgehogs. The children moulded and remoulded to get their hedgehogs just as they wanted them. A great craft for all ages as they can be as realistic or alien as they want with no complicated sticking involved.
Oak Tree Crafts – Clay leaves
Most left us at this stage but the really keen stayed on to make clay leaves. By rolling an oak leaf onto the lay then carving around the printed edge and painting you have yourself a perfect reminder of autumn to keep all year round.
Despite the rain arriving we managed a full afternoon of outdoor activities to keep everyone busy. Thankfully the rest of the week fared much better. Just as well I had a few undercover crafts up my sleeve for the wettest afternoon of the week!
Have you tried oak tree crafts?