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.
March Events in Cornwall & Holiday Farm News
March Events in Cornwall for families looking for days out and all the latest developments on our holiday farm from the animals to the prope... Read More
I felt like I was due a lucky break, we had bravely fulfilled a few soggy activity hour sessions, dodging showers with wellies to complete our outdoor tasks and retreating into the games room for the crafts. This week we were blessed with a winter sun that felt more like summer and I was determined to make the most of it by collecting and using nature that wasn’t soaked through. An autumn scavenger hunt for nature’s treasures was my starting point and my mind was full of possibilities to make with our collected goodies.
A treat to start
I had set out quite a challenge for little legs so we started by enjoying a homemade cookie for energy while I explained the scavenger hunt and handed out collecting bags and pens.
Autumn Scavenger hunt
We set off and in no time the children had spotted the first things on their list. Acorns and acorn leaves, helicopter seeds and sycamore leaves.
Encouraged by our early finds we wandered through the fairy gardens for more treasures and on across the farm path where all the children managed to tick off everything on their list. I think the elderberries and hawthorn berries were their favourite, they looked so juicy and ripe unlike the blackberries which really were looking end of season.
Hello from the animals
We had added the pigs and the chickens to our tick sheet knowing we would pass them, but the sheep and goats also came to say hello in the hope a branch might be spared for them. Finally we took the footbridge back across the open field to our craft station where we emptied out our treasures ready to make some autumn crafts.
Autumn Scavenger hunt leaf keepsake
The children chose an oak or sycamore leaf card with double sided tape to arrange their autumn scavenger hunt find on. It made a lovely keepsake of all the things they found from the sheet.
The remaining collected items were used to thread into paper plate wreaths. Here all the pretty berries and flowers made a colourful collection to hang in each house. A few pieces of autumnal coloured floristry ribbon completed the wreaths and the children left happy with their afternoons work.
I can totally recommend a scavenger hunt as a way to motivate little legs on a country walk and learn about nature all at once.
Every year our Halloween Fun Day seems to grow a little more involved. I thought last year we had peaked; the weather, the events and the participation all came together to make the most wonderful experience for everyone involved. Yet each year I am conscious that for many who rebook from year to year, the children will be a year older with even high expectations than the previous year. For this reason I try to bring in fresh ideas with the old favourites. This year I really think we pulled that off, with a fun day to rival events anywhere. So much so I’m splitting the day over 2 posts and sharing part 2 next week.
Fancy dress animal feed run
The day begins with a fancy dress feed run. I dressed the tractor and trailer the night before so it was all ready to spook the children in the morning, though I fear I may have gone a little overboard this year as a couple of the youngest were a little afraid to climb on board! Even Farmer Nick and some of the parents joined in with Fancy dress which made the children laugh.
It adds a fun spin on the daily tractor rides as the children see if their costumes have spooked the animals or if they will still come over for their food. Needless to say food wins and the animals refuse to be spooked!
Halloween Fun Day Crafts
We have a couple of clear hours after the feed run to set up the rest of the day’s events which flow right though to the evening. The first one is the Halloween crafts. We had a trail run at most of these last week as we created the Halloween Display. However managing the crafts on a larger scale with so many children meant a few changes were necessary.
The lanterns worked well last week so we repeated this one. They also doubled up later in the evening to light the way alongside the pumpkins for Trick or Treating.
Next we reused the apple and potato fabric printing from last week, although instead of joining them all to make bunting, this time the children printed onto squares of material and mounted them on black card to take home.
With so many children we only had time for one more craft for our fun day. As most were older than last week we swapped ghost prints for spooky eyes. Cutting triangles into black painted toilet rolls gave us the eyes while placing glow sticks inside made them spooky in the dark.
Spooky Activity Trail
In the past for our halloween Fun Day we have had a trail with spooky things to spot and count up. This year with a little help from the triplets dressed in various guises we turned the static trail into much more of an interactive activity session.
First up was the Fairy Gardens which had a witch cast a wicked spell and fill it up with a spider’s web. The children had to clamber through the web collecting a spider ring each on their way.
From here we made our way to the den building area where the children had to ring the wind chime to make the ghost come out of his den and play his spooky message.
Across at the pirate boat an evil pirate had been baking gruesome cakes blood red from the blackberries inside! Each climbed up the stairs to meet the pirate before sliding back down with their cake. They must have been fooled as even the older ones had to ask me if it was OK to eat the cake!
Down on the farm path a witch was waiting with a basket of insects covered in sticks and leaves. Each child took a lucky dip to see what they could find.
Excited by the activities the children raced on ahead to find the devil hiding on the island on the island. Here they had to try and spray him with Holy Water to take the evil away.
After converting the Devil there was an evil intruder to deal with. He had been captured in the aviaries and needed pelting with deadly flour to ensure he didn’t escape.
Our chores were nearly done, just one last stop to make at the witch who had created her brew in the Mud Kitchen. The children had to delve deep in the pumpkin goo to find a glowing bracelet as a pass to ride on the Ghost Train later.
Already it had been quite a day, but we still had the excitement of Halloween Games, the Ghost Train and the legendary Coombe Mill Trick or Treating to follow. I hope you’ll catch up with me next week to see how we fared in part two of our Halloween Fun Day.
Our Halloween Fun Day has become quite legendary taking place on the last day of half term, regardless of when Halloween falls. It takes a huge amount of preparation and I like to practice a few of the crafts the week leading up to half term with the guests here in activity hour. With a group ranging from age 1 to 12 I knew it would be a good test for what worked and how long each craft would take. Needless to say I had far more planned than we managed but it did all make a lovely Halloween display stand for Half Term and a few extras to take home as keepsakes.
Lighting the way
We began by making decorative tea light jars. The children disappeared off in search of pretty autumn coloured leaves while I applied PVA glue to all the jars and placed a tea light inside.
By the time they returned I had a jar ready for everyone and a stack of coloured tissue paper to intersperse with the leaves.
We finished the lights off with a piece of ribbon and added some to the Halloween display and kept others back for the children to take home.
Halloween printed bunting
My Halloween display was taking shape with a while sheet and some Icicle lighting over a delivery pallet but it looked a bit plain. We used large windfall cooking apples to make Ghost, pumpkin and Bat stencils and printed triangles of sheeting to make festive bunting. I stapled each piece onto string to make the bunting but had a really job keeping up with my enthusiastic printers!
Watch out for the ghosts
The younger children then moved on to making spooky hand print ghosts on black card. It sounds so simple but they really had to think about how they were placing their hands on the card to create the ghost effect. We gave them each a little directional smudge to make them look like they were floating through the night. Adding fingerprint faces really brought them to life…..Oooooh!
Giant Pumpkin Painting
We wanted a new game for the fun day and came up with throwing spooky items into the pumpkin. Farmer Nick purchased a giant bag of plastic creepy crawlies on his travels which would work a treat and we set a couple of the older girls to work painting the pumpkin we had drawn on a giant reclaimed piece of card packaging. They did a wonderful job and I’m really excited to try the game now.
Still in full pumpkin flow the girls designed and carved a real pumpkin for me to take centre stage on our Halloween display.
I hadn’t even started on my toilet roll crafts and monster eyes but we had run out of time, the night was drawing in and storm Brian threatening to take hold! I wasn’t going to be short of crafts for our half term fun day, I just had to cross my fingers with the Cornish weather; more on that one next week.
Putting together our Halloween Display for Half Term
Faced with one of the seasons wet autumn days and a very young group of eager little helpers, I had had to have a quick rethink about my planned autumn leaf activities. Soggy leaves were just not doing it in my mind so I moved the theme to pig crafts. Our growing piglets are a delight to all our visitors and as one of their favourite foods is windfall acorns, I thought I could work on the idea of a nutritious snack for Sally the pig and her piglets and something fun and delicious for the children.
With tiny tots a story is often a good way to get things started. I chose a couple of very simple farm animal books to bring back all they had learned on a week at the farm. Gradually shyness melted away and interest grew.
I had the craft table indoors out of the rain and wind and handed out my piglet templates. The children set to work painting their pigs. There was no requirement to stay within the lines as we were going to leave them to try and cut out the pieces later on.
From painting pictures to decorating cup cakes with pig faces the theme moved on at quite a pace.
I had been tipped off about a special birthday and made a little cup cake pre-decorated with candles to accompany a birthday cake from the parents. Candles, a cake and everyone singing can be overwhelming when you are just 2, but the birthday girl and her new friends took it all in their stride.
A nutritious acorn snack
Finally the rain was easing enough for us to brave the outdoors and help digest the birthday cake. I handed out collecting cups and with raincoats and wellies we began hunting for acorns as a treat for Sally the pig. They were falling all over the car park and it didn’t take my eagle eyed tots long to start finding them.
A long walk for little legs
Collecting things is a great way to distract little legs who were rather hoping Farmer Nick would come by with his tractor to give them a lift.
Finally we made it to the pig sty with brimming cups of acorns and tipped them in for Sally and her piglets to enjoy.
What about those Piggy Paintings
We came back the shorter route over the footbridge to see how our piggy paintings were drying. Some were still tacky but they were dry enough to be cut and stapled together to make keepsake pigs for the children.
Everyone left with their pig crafts, pig face cakes and a tummy full of birthday cake. It was a busy afternoon for my eager 2 year olds. Many didn’t even manage the 6pm train I’d worn them out so much!
After a lovely activity hour studying the weather a few weeks ago I was determined to return to the theme as I still had plenty of ideas I knew our older children would enjoy. It turned out to be a good decision for two key reasons: We had a wide spread of ages and I knew my windsocks would work for everyone and the weather itself moved from threatening cloud formations to sunshine during the afternoon so we had plenty to see.
Measuring wind with windsocks
Last time we studied the weather we made rain gauges, this time I wanted to try windsocks made to my own patented design. We began by decorating a sheet of paper to wrap around an old plastic drink bottle.
Next the children chose colours of floristry ribbon to make the floaty tail for the wind to catch. We fixed these through the end of the bottle by punching holes with a hole punch. Doing the same at the top allowed us to add string to hang them up.
The little ones took great delight in racing up and down with their windsocks gathering wind in their wake while the older ones perfected their designs.
There were so many children our hour was almost up by the time everyone had finished their windsock, but they were so keen to carry on we just went with the flow. Splitting into two groups Amber led the successful weather experiments from a few weeks ago but made it more challenging for the older ones by encouraging them to say how the props could make each weather condition.
Meanwhile I took another group to make cloud study journals. I had the 4 basic cloud types printed in a chart and the children used this to make booklets to record the cloud formation each day for a week.
We sat down and looked up to the sky to see today’s cloud pattern. From nimbus earlier we now had cumulus and status cloud. Heading back to the table the children entered their first days cloud pattern to their journals.
The non scientific weather forecast
Will it be sun, rain wind or snow, you’ll have to play the game: I helped the children fold paper into a little game I remember doing myself as a child. I think we used to use them for fortune telling and silly statements, but I thought they would make fun weather predictors. The children added colours to spell out in the first layer and numbers to count on the second before writing in 8 weather conditions you could pick as tomorrow’s forecast. Lots of fun and arguably as accurate as the BBC!
By the time the evening train came round the windsocks were still flying high. Letting them catch the wind from the train was a lovely idea totally inspired by the children.
I wonder if any of them will go onto be weather forecasters when they grow up. It was top of my list as a child.
“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.