Posted on March 24th, 2017 - Fiona
Despite having quite a few staying with us, our craft and activity hour clashed with the best day of the week and most of our guests had taken advantage of a chance to visit the beach. I had just one little girl come along who had been looking forward to it all week. Having stayed before I knew she would be fine on her own and at just 4 years old I took a gamble she would be up to understanding the frog life cycle and the associated crafts I had planned.
We began by talking about frogs and seeing if we could find one in the My first Animals book I had just reviewed. This proved no problem.
Encouraged by her understanding I moved onto explaining the life cycle from frogspawn to tadpoles, froglet and finally frog with some helpful printables to match and label.
At just four I was keen not to overdo the formal worksheets on holiday so we set off in search of frogspawn on the farm. I’d double checked beforehand that the place I’d identified last week still had some frogspawn there.
What I hadn’t tried before was wading into the depths of the stream to pull some out. It was very boggy and I didn’t want our guests stuck in the mud so I volunteered to carefully step down the bank and pull some up in our bucket. To our complete joy there was not only live frogspawn but tadpoles already formed and swimming around. We tipped the contents of the bucket into a jam jar to carry back to the art table and have a closer look, stopping on the way to see the toad under the bridge, a little clue along our wildlife trail. At this moment I wished he was a frog, but it was a chance to explain the difference.
Getting the magnifying glass out we were able to see plenty of movement in the jar.
While the tadpoles swam round we drew frogspawn with chalk on black paper. This was super effective and easy to create a lifelike effect.
We skipped drawing tadpoles and moved onto our creative frog game. In no time a toilet roll and a stick had become a frog with a fly to catch. I promised it was possible and had the parents both trying as well as the little girl.
With some pre-made paper frogs we squeezed in one more activity, decorating frogs that jumped and then laughing over table top frog races.
Time ran away from us and we caught up with the other families returning from their days out for a last train ride. There was great interest in the crafted frog game and our little 4 year old kindly let the other children have a go with her frog.
I’m so pleased I didn’t shy away from taking on the frog life cycle theme with just one, it was great to have the time and energy to ensure understanding in one so young and the frog turned into a wonderful keepsake game.
Have you tried explaining the frog life cycle to little ones?
Posted on March 18th, 2017 - Fiona
So, I send Farmer Nick off to buy more animal feed and he comes home with 3 goats and a bag of feed all for free! He may forget our children’s names on a daily basis, but clearly his old negotiation skills from his Tesco buying days are still with him. I was quite taken aback with how he managed this one. Apparently as he was waiting for our regular feed delivery to be loaded he spotted a “Free to good home” Advert on the shop notice board and followed it up. 2 nanny goats and a castrated Billy in a neighbouring village to us all sounded too good to be true, but as it was so close he popped back to hook up the trailer and go and see. Before I could ask what they were like he was back here complete with 3 gorgeous looking goats in the back of the trailer. “They even gave me the bag of food they had just bought” he exclaimed.
We let them out into the field adjacent to our existing goats for a day before opening the joining gate to let them familiarise themselves together. The newbies did look a little overwhelmed with their new spacious field and boisterous companions.
Even though little Queenie did her best jumping tricks to impress the new goats.
We have no idea on the age of the new goats but I’m rather hoping Billy will show a keen interest in the nanny goats for some late season kids. Farmer Nick on the other hand is suspecting we have been sold a set of oldies, as the boy is looking a little arthritic. Either way I’m sure they are going to be happy with us.
Speaking of kids, I’m sure “Hairy” is beginning to gain a bit of a tummy. Fingers crossed this means kids in a month or two here on the farm.
If you fancy a spring break and meeting the ‘new kids on the block’ we still have spaces for the Easter holidays and some great prices either side of these.
Posted on March 11th, 2017 - Fiona
I remember wakening in the early hours of the morning to the sound of rain pattering down on the roof window. Snuggling down under the duvet, I was quite unaware that out in the field a baby lamb was being born. Timing was not great, in the open, the wind and the rain, on the bleakest of March mornings.
Hello Baby Lamb
It would be a few hours later before I would discover the little lamb in the distance whilst on my morning farm checks. Racing round to check the other animals had survived the wild night I ran back for my camera and a closer look. At a distance I couldn’t see the mother close by. Returning the lamb was still stood in the same place, looking lost and lonely in the field. I approached with caution, hoping this might reveal a protective mother and I was indeed met by a ewe at the hay feeder who began to walk towards her new born lamb. I retreated and crouched down with my long lens camera. All looked well as Mum nuzzled her lamb.
Out on the feed run it was a very muddy trek for our little visitors to get a better look. The rain was still present and the wind whipping around us. Separating Mum and Baby from the rest of the herd turned out to be much harder than it should have been as a vital post gave way under the muddy ground. Finally we edged them into a little field of their own with field shelter that would hopefully keep them dry and safe from foxes and badgers. It was Farmer Nick’s newly build shed we really wanted to use but this was just too far from where they were and the ground too soft to take the stock trailer across the meadows to move them.
I was back and forth all day checking up on them, moving the little baby lamb inside out of the rain; they seem to have precious little common sense! Finally I caught them through the shelter slats enjoying the hay and looking very united. In case you are wondering about the orange stripes, this signifies the 1st lamb to the 1st Mum. A twin would have had 12 sprayed on and Mum has a single line for first mother.
We should be lambing from now until mid May. It really is an exciting time to visit the farm and hopefully with a little sunshine the fields will be less muddy!
Posted on March 3rd, 2017 - Fiona
After a quiet January it was lovely to see the number of visitors back up at Coombe Mill for the half term school holiday. We had been away ourselves for a few days mid week, but were back in time for an afternoon of springwatch themed crafting fun. What a delight to discover a group of children who had become the best of friends during the week.
Eager to begin with our spring crafts we started by painting pictures of the farm snowdrops. As always the little ones had to wait for the older ones who were creating some beautiful meadow scenes.
When everyone was finished we searched around for some sticks that would be needed for the next two crafts.
Returning to the table our longer stick was used as the stem of a daffodil, the head being created out of a toilet roll.
The children knew just the place for their daffodils. They had been working on a den together during the week and decided daffodils were just what were needed to finish it off. Carefully they carried them over to our den building area to show off their den and plant their daffodils around.
I love this photo of them all crowded inside.
We hunted around from here for signs of spring to take back to the craft table. The Camellias were out, as well as the daffodils and snowdrops, so there were plenty of colours to find.
The children arranged their spring treasures along a strip of paper which I helped them tape into place.
Next we curled and fixed the paper around two short sticks to make film and used some old chocolate egg boxes I’d been saving since last year to make a TV.
As if by magic their spring finds were now on a TV show!
My thanks to Cheryl from Time To Craft, who reminded me I was storing my egg boxes to make TVs with this post linked to my #Trash2Treasure Link up.
All the children embraced our springwatch crafts with such enthusiasm I shall be using elements from this session again over the coming weeks. We have good availability throughout March if you fancy joining us.
Have you been on springwatch in your local area?
Posted on February 27th, 2017 - Fiona
In an era where on line games are becoming smaller and smaller as children play on tablets and phones, I am a big fan of encouraging real life games that you physically engage in and not just absorb children through a screen. Make these larger than life and the fun really begins.
I remember as a child playing the classic 4 in a row connect 4 game with friends for hours. It was one of those games everyone had and a perfect way to start a play date. Roll on 30 years and the amazing Big Game Hunters have a big and jumbo version of my favourite childhood board game that is perfect for the garden or a playroom; in fact they have a whole range to choose from. There is no sitting still just exercising your fingers and thumbs as in an online game, children actually have to bend and stretch and move around as well as think strategically and try to outwit their opponent; the perfect way to exercise mind and body and improve social skills too.
Jumbo 4 Connect
Delivery and Assembly
We received the Jumbo 4 connect. Delivery was super swift tracked by email at every stage. On arrival we had it unpacked and assembled in minutes. There are instructions to help you but to be honest it is very intuitive to put together with just sides to slot into place and a pull out tray at the bottom to release the counters at the end of play.
We have past experience of Big Game Hunters as our children’s trampoline and the Coombe Mill ones have come from them. Based on the high quality and long lasting nature of their Sky High trampolines I had high hopes for the Jumbo 4 connect and I wasn’t disappointed. It is made from study wood which is well finished with smooth gloss paint. It feels substantial and looks high quality which is important for us as I know it is going to be used week in week out by our holiday guests. In a home I can see this being a game that is handed down from generation to generation to enjoy. The counters are plastic, light weight enough to lift easily, yet sturdy enough to take the constant dropping into slots and clattering to the floor at the end of a game. We have the perfect games room to keep it in, though I can see it coming outdoors too.
Jumbo 4 Connect in Play
Our Jumbo 4 connect arrived just in time for our half term guests to give it a go. We set it up at the start of activity hour outside the games room and a couple of the girls knew straight away how to play and started trying to create their lines of 4 in turn while we waited for everyone to assemble. This is when it really struck me how much movement was required as well as skill and social interaction. That’s three big wins from one fun game.
Capturing the girls on video you can almost hear their minds at work trying to our wit each other to make a line of 4 first.
The Jumbo 4 is just right for our little ones staying here on the farm, however for older children, adults or to really stretch those little ones movements you could opt for the Big 4. Standing at 1.2m tall it is the largest wooden 4 in a row game on the market and would be perfect for family gatherings, team challenges and a guaranteed to be the highlight at any garden party.
Need to Know:
|Jumbo 4 Connect||Big 4 |
|73.4 cm x 84 cm x 20 cm||120 cm x 120 cm x 4.8 cm|
|Quality Wooden Frame||Quality Wooden Frame|
|Plastic Counters Included||Plastic Counters Included|
|Easy to take apart for storage||Easy to take apart for storage|
|£94.99 available from Big Game Hunters||£144.99 available from Big Game Hunters|
Win your Jumbo 4 Connect from Big Game Hunters with Coombe Mill
For a chance to get your kids up and moving with this classic game on a grand scale why not enter to win below. Good luck to all taking part.
I was sent our Jumbo 4 connect to review in this post however all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.
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