Posted on August 19th, 2017 - Fiona
A new sand pit has been a project I’ve had on the back burner all summer. Finally with the school holidays approaching and all our holiday cottages and lodges full I managed to bring this fun outdoor project to the top of Farmer Nick’s to do list. I have a full post to follow on the project and what this new feature replaced. However for today I wanted to major on the excitement of the sandpit contents. We have 5 shiny new mini diggers thanks to our play expert friends at Big Game Hunters. No sooner had the mini diggers been assembled and added to the giant sand pit than the children appeared creating imaginary games and digging for gold. If you have ever been to an adventure play park and seen the industrial version of these little diggers you’ll know what a draw they are for little ones. Personally I have lost count of the hours I have sat admiring growing mounds of sand and arbitrating over whose turn it is. If only we had these wonderful little diggers ourselves back then.
They have only been in for a week and already they have hardly been out of use. With the showery weather this month, having another undercover play area has been most welcome and very timely. I think this is going to be as popular with the preschool children in September as it has been for the school kids in August.
Mini diggers in a newly completed sandpit
Digging for gold in imaginary play
Building holiday friendships alongside sand mountains
If you have a sandpit in the garden I can thoroughly recommend one of these little diggers. At just £22.95 they are an affordable summer fun. For more on how we built the sandpit watch out for my upcoming post.
Posted on August 18th, 2017 - Fiona
We have been experiencing a summer of sunshine and showers here in Cornwall. I thought we might take advantage of the changes in the weather and try our hand at some weather studies. It turned into a good beach day and many of the older children stayed out till late, but I had two eager younger visitors keen to learn and play for activity hour.
Bring the weather alive challenge
We began with a series of weather experiments which was just right for the children. They were full of curiosity and intrigue by all the things we had laid out and couldn’t wait to get started. At each station they had an activity to do and a weather type to guess. I think the rain and clouds were their favourites which they repeated over and over just for the fun of it. The tornado was a new concept to them but seeing the water swish in the bottle they soon understood how it could happen.
Making it rain through plastic cups with holes||
Simulating wind blowing into a windmill|
Spotting the rainbow reflected through the water in a glass ||
Spotting the rainbow reflected through the bubbles|
|Feeling fluffy clouds from alpaca fleece|
|Watching bubble clouds|
|Creating a sun shadow with a torch and a sheet|
|Simulating a tornado with water swished at speed in a bottle|
A DIY Rain Gauge for the farm
After working their way through all our interactive weather studies we set about making rain gauges together, taking inspiration from a post linked to my #Trash2Treasure linky from Charlie Moos. We used some colourful duck tape colours over the top of our cut plastic bottles so there were no sharp edges to hurt little fingers and used felt tip on pieces of paper to make the measurement guide which we taped to the side of the bottle.
Delighted with the finished results they decided they wanted to leave them in the fairy garden and pop back to check on them there each day as rain was in the forecast for the following day.
Creative hand painting
Back at the craft table we had a messy painting activity to show rain. By painting their hands grey and adding spots of blue down their fingers they created some beautiful printed rain pictures to keep.
Fair Weather Games
With a ready paddling pool of now bubbly water from our rain and bubble cloud experiments the children were able to wash off all the paint ready to end our afternoon with some fair weather games.
I already have an idea forming to expand my weather studies activity when we have a group of older children looking at weather forecasting, cloud formation and making a weather diary for the week.
Posted on August 11th, 2017 - Fiona
We may not have cattle here on the farm, but that never stopped a good adventure. I was admiring a post from Little hearts Big Love on Country Kids a few weeks ago where the girls had a lovely time in a DIY garden teepee and it reminded me I’d been meaning to do something Wild West themed for ages. The forecast was dry and I had a crowd of eager children keen to get involved as cowboys and cowgirls.
I planned to take a few bamboo canes from the Welly Walk tunnel to make the frame, but I suddenly thought there might be something sturdier in the den building zone. Right over the entrance was the perfect wigwam of branches. I added a couple more to make our teepee larger and knew this would be stable and perfect for what I had in mind.
Cowboy and cowgirl costumes.
As everyone arrived and I explained the Wild West theme the children dug into my box of dressing up clothes, I had a few cowboy jackets and added some fairy dresses, there has to be a little poetic licence with little ones after all!
We set to work making our cowboys and cowgirls hats with sheriff badges. I was thrilled with the results just from cut up cereal boxes and the kids loved them.
Making the Teepee.
Our cowboys and cowgirls were all ready and eager to decorate the teepee I had prepared from a super-king duvet cover saved from our marked linen collection. As all our business bedding is plain white it was perfect for adding some paint. From cactus plants to cowboy hats, smiley faces to hand prints; the kids relished the messy play on a big scale.
We lifted the giant decorated cover and wrapped it around the frame I had embellished earlier, adding our Brug inside to make cosy seating. The kids soon piled in to listen to a story about the hungry beast of the Wild West.
Talking of food made us all a little peckish; I had anticipated this and was armed with a batch of freshly baked cookies from my oven for everyone which went down a treat.
Refreshed, the children spotted my musical logs and began to create their own cowboy music.
Back in the tent a caterpillar caught the attention of others as it climbed the trunk of the teepee.
We left the children playing in and out of the tepee to enjoy the rest of the afternoon together. I was thrilled to see one little boy still wearing his cowboy hat as he left Coombe Mill the following day.
When the cowboys and cowgirls came to Coombe Mill.
Posted on August 5th, 2017 - Fiona
Last week I shared the fun of the school holidays here feeding the animals. This week the age range is a little younger, at least in part as I have my gorgeous ‘great’ niece and nephew staying. Seeing the magic of the farm through their eyes and the play time with my children, their ‘big’ cousins, is wonderful. Despite my niece and her family living up in the North West of England, they love to come and visit us at Coombe Mill.
Never mind the age gap
We see my niece at least twice a year and the bond developing between the cousins is a delight to watch. The family connection negates the significance of the obvious age gap with my kids taking on a nurturing role. I wish I’d taken more photos over the week, but that’s always the way when my focus is on enjoying the time together. Still we had a happy week which will keep the all important bond alive until next time.
Time out from animal feeding for a little play time by the goat field whilst modelling the new autumn range from Blade & Rose
Play time in the garden over the new series 4 Nom Noms making use of our handy Brug.
Hey cousins where are you?
Not the best photo technically but an endearing rescue of a tired little cousin at our lovely local pub at dinner time.
Learning through play time on holiday
The daily activities here on the farm mean it isn’t just my own children and their cousins benefiting from holiday play time and friendships. The morning animal feeding, various play areas and afternoon play areas are all opportunities for children to come together. Learning here isn’t just about the farm, it’s about friendship, play time and a whole range of social skills.
Becoming friends at play time on the pirate boat, a favourite play area while waiting for the evening train to arrive.
Posted on August 4th, 2017 - Fiona
With a summer that has been characterised by sun and rain the bugs and insects are rife here on the farm. Rather than say “ew”, we have been embracing them and making them part of our activity hour studies and crafts. We had so much fun a few weeks ago despite a very damp day I decided to revisit the world of the minibeast on a sunny afternoon with frogs and some new crafts.
A Giant Minibeast Board Game
The make-believe bug pair’s game of last time was a big success so I built on the idea for this week with a giant minibeast game that the children helped to create. I had a worm board and a dice with some challenge cards and squares set out and the children added the rest.
They made coloured counters from milk bottle tops with fingerprint minibeasts on the top and decorated the playing board with lots of little creepy crawlies in fun colours.
When they were all finished we played a game. It was great fun with everyone joining in the challenge questions like “Leap like a frog” and “sing Incy wincey spider” to move up 3 places.
The game provided the perfect mix of jumping around and concentrating on counting on places together with painting fun. I’ll definitely be looking at DIY games more in the future but for now my discerning little ones had spotted my pebbles waiting to be painted.
Painting Bug pebbles
I collected and painted white a selection of bug shaped pebbles from a family beach trip the day before and the children couldn’t wait to get turning them into bees, ladybirds and centipedes like the ones in our fairy gardens.
Off on a minibeast hunt
Once everyone was cleaned up we left our pebble bugs to dry in the sun and headed out with magnifying glasses to find some real bugs down in the fairy gardens. Farmer Nick’s carved fairy toadstools always reveal a wealth of little beasties scurrying to and fro and the children were thrilled with crowing round to identify them all. We saw centipedes, beetles, woodlice and lots of worms. There was even a shiny unidentified bug that had everyone confused and fascinated in equal measure.
We progressed down through the bug hotel peering into pipes and dislodging logs where we saw spider webs and snails but no spiders in residence.
Baby Frogs on the farm paths
From here we headed over to the farm in search of baby frogs. We were rewarded with lots of little jumping frogs that leapt from our hands. The children laughed as it was just as they had practice leaping like a frog in our minibeast game right at the start.
Help the frog catch a fly
Back at our craft table we continued the frog theme with some fly catching frogs that made another great little game for the children to keep. I’m going to follow up with a tutorial on these for #Trash2Treasure as they are such fun and easy to make.
Mini beast crafts have so much millage and so many possibilities; I have a stack in my head I still want to try. They are great for normalising touching and investigating these little beasties in real life for kids.
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