Baby and Toddler Conker Play

We are bonkers for conkers !

All my children have loved conkers (buck eyes) from when they were tiny and shook them in sensory bottles, to toddlers collecting piles of them in their toddle trucks, to big kiddies playing conker fights. I love them too and always have a tray of them in the hearth that stays there all year. They dry and shrivel a bit over time but I still love them!

Working with pre-schoolers and their families this week I have been sharing my love of conkers with them and thought I would share it here too. Conkers do pose a very real choking risk to the very young but with some simple threading they become much easier to explore more safely. Here’s some of my all time favourite baby and toddler conker play ideas.Baby and Toddler Conker (Buck Eye) Play Ideas

How To Set Up Baby And Toddler Conker Play

You Will Need:

  • Lots of fresh big conkers
  • Screwdriver or skewer 
  • String or wool 
  • Empty cardboard tubes, tubs, boxes.

Method – Baby Sensory Conker Play:

Baby and Toddler Conker (Buck Eye)  Play Ideas

  1. Wash and dry the conkers.
  2. Using a small screwdriver or skewer pierce through the conker to make a hole. Brush away any loose debris.Baby and Toddler Conker (Buck Eye)  Play Ideas
  3. Thread the conkers onto string or wool and tie together  to form a big hoop.

Doesn’t it look inviting? It just calls out to be felt and explored doesn’t it? Although stringing the conkers like this makes it safer for young children to explore them it does not remove all the danger. Never leave your child unattended with conkers and check them regularly for signs of damage or wear.

Additional sensory play ideas: 

Babies will also enjoy listening to conkers shake and roll inside bottles and boxes.

Babies will enjoy watching conkers roll inside transparent tubs or bottles. You could add some glittered water to make beautiful sensory bottles.

Method – Toddler Conker Worms:

Baby and Toddler Conker (Buck Eye)  Play Ideas

  1. With supervision your little toddler will enjoy threading the conkers with you after you’ve made holes in them. (Follow step one above.) To help them with this wrap some sticky tape around the end of the string/wool. This makes it nice and rigid for threading and you can adjust how long and how rigid you want it to be to match the needs of your little one.Baby and Toddler Conker Play Ideas from My Little 3 and Me
  2. When you have a nice thread of conkers tie them off at the beginning and at the end of the thread to make conker worms.Baby and Toddler Conker Play Ideas from My Little 3 and Me
  3. Provide a selection of vessels for these worms to move around in. Cardboard tubes were a big hit with my boys but any boxes, tubes and tins work well and toddlers will love putting the conker worms in and out, over and over again.

Additional conker worms ideas:

Providing a range of simple accessories are great for sound play too. Conkers falling on metal sound great, try it!

Children might also like to use the conkers as beads and thread up necklaces or bracelets. You could even paint them too!

Method – Toddler Conker Maths:

Baby and Toddler Conker (Buck Eye)  Play Ideas

Conkers can easily be used to help children learn to count and understand one to one correspondence and develop number recognition.

Here’s a few of my favourite conker counting activities.

  1. Have a metal tin (This is a noisy activity but that’s what makes it fun!) simply scatter 10 conkers out and then tidy them into the tin, one at a time, counting out loud and letting each one clang to the bottom. Children will love joining in. Tip them out and repeat.
  2. Extend the above by seeing how loud a certain number of conkers are. this way your little one can count out three etc and drop them all in together for a really loud crash! Imagine how loud ten falling conkers are!
  3. Extend 1 and 2 by having digit cards. Children can pick a card then count out that many conkers to drop into the tin.
  4. If you want to work on number recognition and one to one correspondence how about attaching a number to the string and then your little one can thread on the correct number of conkers for each numbered string.

Conkers pose a danger of choking, never leave your child unattended with conkers.

These are just a few of the things you can do with conkers. We’d love to hear what you get up to with them. Do your children ave a favourite conker activity?

Looking for some more Autumn ideas? You might like these:

Autumn Sun Catchers

Fall art window Painting a simple and pretty activity from My Little 3 and Me

Autumn Tree Craft and Math GameFall Craft and Math Game

Leaf Sewing- Fine Motor Skills

Autumn Crafts For Toddlers: leaf sewing from My Little 3 and Me

Thanks for visiting!

We’d love you to come and chat with us on our social channels. :-)


  1. April says

    Awesome ideas….note: conkers= chestnuts. Chestnuts are a tree nut, so the can be allergenic to children. I am going to try spraying mine with acrylic spray. This is the first year it hasn’t been raining so I could collect them (Seattle)! Good luck!

    • Emma "My Little 3 and Me" Smith says

      Hi April, thanks for dropping by. I hope the rain holds off long enough for you to do some collecting; they’re such fun to play with. I think you are absolutely right and we need to be aware of possible allergic reactions when we introduce anything new to our little ones. Have fun. :-)

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