Tag Archives: Country Kids

Sutton Bioblitz

Today we took part in the Sutton Bioblitz at the local ecology centre.

We arrived around 11.30am and collected our recording sheets and activity booklets for the kids. The area had been split into three zones, aqua, amber and jade. As you recorded in each zone the kids got a stamp in their booklet and once you’d been to all three zones you got a free garden wildlife calender.

We started off in the aqua zone, where they were pond dipping.

As I was on my own with the kids today I decided against looking in the main pond – see here for what happened last time – so we got our nets and looked in the smaller raised ponds.

We spent quite a long time pond dipping and found lots of different animals including damselfly larvae, lesser water boatman, a whirligig beetle, a ramshorn snail, a pond snail and mosquito larvae. We were so engrossed in finding and identifying that I completely forgot to take any photographs! But I did get this one after we had put the nets away and I was trying to convince Jasmine to move on to something else.

Bioblitz 1Once I had convinced all the children we should stop looking in the pond and do the next activity we moved into the amber zone to look for bugs. We didn’t really find many today, just the odd woodlouse and snail; I imagine because all the logs had been turned over several times previously!

On the volunteers table however, we did see thisBioblitz 2Eurycantha, or New Guinea Spiny Stick Insect.

Pretty scary looking if you ask me, but both Thomas and Jasmine were very keen to hold it.

So, after holding the giant stick insect and finding no minibeasts, we headed over to the meadow to complete the final activity and collect our last stamp.

In the meadow we did some butterfly catching with nets and discovered how hard it is to catch, and then keep the butterfly in the net! I did most of the catching and got a few butterflies in the net but took a long time to work out how to keep them there! The only one I managed was a ringlet butterfly. While we were there though someone caught a small blue butterfly, the first one of the day.

As i was trying to catch butterflies, Jasmine and Thomas had found a volunteer turning over logs looking for toads. He found a couple and then as I was chatting to him all 3 kids began their own toad hunt. They did well and Jasmine brought over a small toad and Thomas found a newt.bioblitz 3It was now almost 2pm and we still hadn’t had any lunch. We went to get our calenders and wrote comments on the event tree. Thomas wrote “I found a newt” and Jasmine wrote “I found a toad”! While Thomas was writing Jasmine did a spot more bug catching and managed to catch a couple of grasshoppers by herself! Her eye for spotting and her ability to catch almost any small bug astounds everyone and the volunteers nearby were very impressed with her patience!

But then it was time to leave. I don’t think any of the kids had thought about how hungry they were while we were there because they were having so much fun. But I bought them all a cake on the way out and suggested we go to Macdonalds for some chips, and I didn’t have too many problems getting them back to the car!

We had a really great time today and each time we do something like this I see the kids enthusiasm grow and grow. We’re so lucky to have such a wonderful place nearby!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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A picnic and fruit picking

Yesterday we spent a lovely day at Claremont Landscape Gardens and Garsons PYO Farm.

We started off at Claremont, arriving at lunch time and enjoying a delicious picnic in the shade by the lake.

Once everyone had eaten we set off round the lake to discover and explore. The kids and Gordon walked up the hill, all the way to the top, and ran back down again! Then we headed over to the woodland, explored a ditch, hunted for grasshoppers and found a cherry tree with some delicious cherries growing on it that Gordon and Ben enjoying tasting!Claremont 1As were walked round the grassy area and woodland we counted butterflies and recorded our results with the Big Butterfly Count. We saw lots of Ringlets and Small Whites and a Gatekeeper.

We continued round the lake, watching the fish jump out of the water to catch flies and the dragonflies zipping around. At one point we stopped to watch a dragonfly flying around the edge of the water and Jasmine noticed a Southern Hawker Dragonfly laying eggs in the bank right below where we were standing! We watched  it for quite a long time, having never been that close to a dragonfly before we were all amazed by how big it was!Southern Hawker DragonflyWe walked round the lake and back to the car park, and then drove the 5 minutes to Garsons Farm.

We have only been to Garsons once so far this year, for the asparagus picking, so there was lots we wanted to get today! We started with gooseberries and raspberries then went to the redcurrant field. Next was carrots, peas, mange tout and finally cucumber.Garsons PYOWhile the kids do enjoy picking the fruit and vegetables, they also enjoy taste testing what they can! I don’t mind them eating a few, however I try and make sure most of what they pick goes into the punnets!

It was so late by the time we’d finished at the farm that we decided to eat out at Pizza Hut, the kids favourite! After dinner of pizza and ice cream we went home, well past the kids normal bedtime but well worth the late night as we’d had such a lovely day.

Once all 3 kids were tucked up and asleep, Gordon and I started the long process of removing the redcurrants from the stems, ready for me to make jam today.

And that is where I must go now, The fruit was stewed and the juice strained over night. Now to begin my first jam of the year.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Painting in the garden

Following on from Thursday when we painted handprint caterpillars at Twins Club, today we got the paints out at home to create some more animals, flowers and general art work.

I wanted each of the kids to have their own art space so I got the easel out for Thomas and Jasmine, and used the tuff spot for Ben. This was important because I wanted to see what the big two would do and they were keen to actually paint something, whereas Ben is still in the “paint everything one colour then smear round with hands” stage, and he usually does this all over their work.

I set out the paints and a selection of brushes, sponges and old toothbrushes to paint with. The kids loved the idea of painting with toothbrushes and a lot of the first paintings were done using these. Ben had a wonderful time with the orange and black paint and some toothbrushes! Thomas painted a sunflower growing in a garden and Jasmine painted some flowers and a person.Painting 1aOnce they had all filled one piece of paper I mentioned painting with their hands. Ben got stuck right in and was soon covered in black paint! He did lots of handprints in different colours. Thomas added a handprint spider to his sunflower painting and then painted more bugs on a new sheet. I showed him how to paint a handprint butterfly and he also did some worms and another spider. Jasmine created lots of multicoloured hand-angels and she did her own butterfly, which I was very impressed with as she did it with no help from me.Painting 2When they started painting with their hands I had filled the sandpit lid with water so the could rinse the paint off when they wanted to use different colours. Both boys, but especially Ben, had just as much fun washing their hands as they did painting!

Finally, for their last painting of the day I added shaving foam as an option. I gave them all a tupperware container with some in and showed them how to mix some paint into it. None of the kids have ever been keen on using shaving foam in their messy play so I was interested to see how they would work with it. Having already had paint on their hands I was hoping this would encourage them to get the foam on their hands as well.

They all started off using the brushes and sponges to paint it on to the paper but Ben soon got his hands involved and was happily hand printing with the foamy painty mixture. This encouraged Thomas and he joined in, creating some wonderful “fireworks” on his paper.Painting 3Then, just as I was getting the boys clean and starting to tidy bits away, I turned round and Jasmine had covered her hands in the shaving foamy paint as well! This is a big thing for Jasmine and she always takes a long time to come round to getting her hands really messy (which is strange because she is quite happy to play in mud all day!)Painting 4All in all, we had a very successful painting session today. Now, I just need to find somewhere to display all the pictures!
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Let Them Play

While Gordon and I have been busy redecorating Ben’s bedroom, the kids have been happily playing in the garden.

Yesterday morning while the last bits of plastering were being done I tried again with the paint-bombing. I got some great ideas from people leaving comments on here and on Facebook and I decided to try dropping them from the climbing frame. I also found a sports cap bottle that made filling the balloons much easier too, as the end of the balloon fitted nicely over the spout.Paint Bombs part 2We got better results doing it this way that we got on Saturday, but the kids aim still meant that a good few paint-bombs burst on the grass! Thomas was definitely the most accurate and the most successful and he burst most of the balloons himself in the end. I love the final art work we created and in fact I have used some of it in Ben’s new bedroom!

After paint-bombing I had a tray full of black paint that had leaked out when I was filling the balloons. Rather than waste it (or spend a long time trying to get it back in the paint bottle) I decided to use it for some feet painting down the garden. I unrolled some more lining paper as a “road” and the kids stepped into the tray of paint and onto the road! I had also placed a bowl of water at the other end so when they had enough they could wash their feet.

When I initially mentioned painting with feet to Thomas he wasn’t sure at all. But he changed his mind as soon as he saw the piece of paper and the water at the end and was first in! Jasmine, who I did think might not join in at all, was straight in after Thomas, closely followed by Ben. They loved it, slipping round the paint tray and running round the paper leaving paint-y footprints. Of course, the paint being slippery meant that the boys fell in and didn’t just end up with paint-y feet!Paint RoadPoor Thomas did end up taking one tumble to many though and the activity ended with him in tears. Hopefully it hasn’t put him off and next time I will put the paint straight on the paper rather than inside a slippery plastic tray!

Today we spent the morning in the park with some local twin families. I love meeting up with other twin mums and I had a lovely chat while the kids played.

This afternoon they went in the garden again.

Jasmine began by finding a spider and insisted on catching it in a jar! Her bug obsession is getting bigger and bigger! I should be happy because it means she can now remove any spiders from near me when Gordon isn’t around, but when she comes and shows me a large spider I am not so keen!

I got the water table out for them this afternoon. I also filled up the top of the sandpit with water, coloured some water blue and put this in a bowl and put another large bowl of shaving foam out and told them they could use it as soap to wash their toys. They’ve never been keen on using shaving foam as a messy play material, so I thought that using it with water in this way would encourage them to play with it, knowing they could wash it off with more water at any time.

They spent all afternoon playing with the water; washing toys and rinsing them with their watering cans, making whirlpools, visiting the deep blue sea and lots of other things as well. They had a great time, were occupied for ages and were thoroughly soaked by dinner time!Water playWe’ve had a great couple of days in the garden and it looks like the sun is going to stick around for another day or so, so I imagine we’ll be out there again over the next few days.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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