Sunday 28 September 2014

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...


  1. Catherine @FrmLittleThingsMonday, September 29, 2014

    I never knew that

  2. Catherine @FrmLittleThingsMonday, September 29, 2014

    oh bum I hit enter too soon...

    I never knew that about steam in conkers. Interesting!

    We also haven't seen any spiders recently since having tons of conkers lying around! Bonus!

  3. I used to love collecting conkers and taking them to school to play conkers (I'm sure they are probably not allowed them in schools now though) I love the toddler conker maths idea, I might have to try that!

  4. I like that no.1 is 'play conkers'! Excellent :)


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