Sunday, 28 September 2014

MY Sunday Photo #countrykids

Getting Crafty with nature in the forest garden, prestwich

My children love exploring the outdoors an while my eldest as away on Beaver camp I promised my daughter that we would visit the Incredible Edible Forest Garden open day at Prestwich Clough, unfortunately I was not well enough to go. However Nanna stepped in and took my little fairy to explore this local woodland garden and get crafty with some natural resources. They had a lovey time and I really wish i'd been able to join them. 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Five Fun Things to do with Conkers...

So it's officially Autumn! The leaves are beautiful shades of brown and the horse chestnuts are falling from the trees...

Nothing feels more autumnal to me than wrapping up warm and going on a hunt for conkers! My children were very excited to discover the huge horse chestnut tree (or Aesculus hippocastanum if you want to get all latin...) at the end of their grandparent's road. They set about filling their arms with a collection of shiny conkers from the same tree that their Daddy would have twenty odd years earlier. Hey who am I kidding? Daddy and I joined in too of course! I'm a big kid at a heart and I couldn't resist routing through the crisp amber leaves that covered the pavement to join the search...

Butterfly shaped conker horse chestnut shell
A 'butterfly' shaped conker shell we found!

Collecting the conkers is great fun and a good excuse to get your children outside for some fresh air in the colder weather but it doesn't stop there! There are lots of different things that you can do with your conker collections from crafts to educational games. I've brought together my five favourite conker activities...

1. Play Conkers! 

Play with Conkers - Horse Chestnuts

Be traditional, choose your strongest looking conkers, make a hole, thread through some string or an old shoelace and challenge your bestie (or Daddy!) to a good old game of conkers! Red Ted Art has a great video to show you how to play

2. Science experiments!

Science experiments with Conkers

Did you know that conkers contain a build up of steam? If you pierce them you can see this steam release or if you throw a conker on to  camp fire (adult supervision required, obviously!) then the build up will cause it to explode? There are lots of other was to experiment with conkers too, Science Sparks has a great experiment to find out how to make the strongest conker.

3. Sensory and Maths Play!

Toddler conker maths

This is a great one for younger children who love to help collect up the conkers but are a little too young to play with them in the traditional way. Being so solid, shiny and of varying shapes they are ideal for sensory play. Thread them on strings to make 'worms' increasing in size by one and use them to help your children with counting. My Little 3 and Me have some great Baby and Toddler conker play ideas.

4. Make Halloween or Christmas Decorations!

Make holiday decorations with conkers - spiders

It's always fun to get crafty with something you've found outside and conkers make an ideal base for a simple hanging decoration. Add some googly eyes and black or silver pipe cleaners to make a spider ideal for getting in the Halloween theme. Or why not get glittery and make a sparkly conker bauble and maybe get your child to paint their initial on it? Or add some felt and cotton wool to make a Santa head?

5. Painting with Conkers

Paint Play with Conkers - messy play

  Conkers are so shiny, they are ideal for getting messy with paint! This is a fun messy play activity for children of all ages! There are a few great ways to paint with conkers and I love how The Imagination Tree uses Rolling Conker Art to make gorgeous swirling patterns on paper that would be ideal for wrapping up gifts!

Finally, this isn't an activity but something I have just learnt... Did you know that Conkers contain a chemical that spiders hate? Pop a few bowls of conkers in the corners of your rooms and you may prevent those creepy crawlies coming in to your house! You could evening string them up and hang them from your windows, pretty and practical!

If you are looking for even more ideas using conkers check out this post at From Little Things and don't forget Pinterest, I love this Autumn Activities board from This Day I love.

What do you do with conkers? I'd love to hear your ideas...

Half price mobile offers until 30 September

TalkTalk Mobile is offering the biggest brands at the lowest prices just for its customers. And until 30 September customers can get half price of some of the very best brands including Samsung, Sony and LG. 

As part of its commitment to making TalkTalk homes better off TalkTalk Mobile has provided a simpler and affordable way to find a mobile match. And it has partnered with the best people in the mobile world to cut out the costs and pack in a whole bunch of savings. 

TalkTalk has half price offers on some of the very best brands until 30 September to kit the kids out for school without the hefty costs. Customers can get the Samsung Galaxy Fame from just £3.75 and the brand new Nokia 630 from just £5 a month. Customers can also get half price tablet and mobile bundles, ideal for back to school starting from £7.50 a month. Find out how you can take advantage at TalkTalk Mobile.

This post was written as part of my ambassadorship as a TalkTalk Family Blogger.  

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Holiday Crafts with Conkers...

We've been collecting lots of Conkers from local Horse Chestnut Trees and decided to get crafty with some of them.

Here's some holiday craft ideas with conkers...

A Spooky Spider Conker!

Halloween craft - spider - conker

Perfect for Halloween, this little chappy can be hung from the ceiling or simply placed on the table for a lovely autumnal twist on halloween decorations. (Did you know that conkers are meant to keep away real spiders?)

What you Need:

  • One Conker
  • 4 x silver pipe cleaners cut in half
  • 2 x googly eyes
  • Glue
  • String or silver ribbon (if hanging)
What to Do:
  • Get a small screwdriver and make four small holes in each side of the conker.
  • Push each of the eight pieces of pipe cleaner into a hole and bend them in the middle to form a leg.
  • Glue two eyes on the front of your conker.
  • If yo wish to use this as a hanging decoration, pierce a hole down the centre of the conker and thread some string or ribbon through, tying at the bottom.

I know it's early but while you have the craft bits out and you have more conkers to use up why not make some festive Christmas crafts that ill be idea to hang on the tree?

Painted Conker Baubles

painted conker baubles - christmas craft

What you Need:

  • One Conker
  • Paint
  • Glitter Glue
  • String or  ribbon 
What to Do:
  • Get a small screwdriver and pierce a hole down the centre of the conker and thread some string or ribbon through, tying at the bottom.
  • Lay down some newspaper, get out the paint and glitter glue and encourage your little ones to get creative. Why not get them to paint their name or initial on the conker?
  • Lay out to dry and when you come to get the Christmas Tree out in December your little ones will have their very own personalised bauble to hang.

Santa's Head Conker decoration

Santa's Head Christmas conker craft

What you Need:

  • One Conker
  • Paint
  • Glue
  • Cotton wool
  • Red cardboard, foam or felt
  • String or  ribbon 
What to Do:
  • Get a small screwdriver and pierce a hole down the centre of the conker and thread some string or ribbon through, tying at the bottom.
  • Lay down some newspaper, get out the paint and  encourage your little ones to paint a face on 'Santa'
  • Cut a rectangle out from the red card (or foam or felt) and bend into a cone shape, then glue.
  • Thread the string or ribbon through the hat so it sits on the top of the conker.
  • Glue around the bottom of the hat and then decorate with cotton wool.
  • Glue a 'beard shape' around the bottom of the conker and stick on more cotton wool.
  • Lay out to dry and when you come to get the Christmas Tree out in December your little ones will have their very own Santa's head conker to hang on it!
Have you been collecting conkers this Autumn? Check out these other fun activities with conkers...

I've linked this post up with Tuesday Tutorials

In The Playroom