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.
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:
- Wash and dry the conkers.
- Using a small screwdriver or skewer pierce through the conker to make a hole. Brush away any loose debris.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Extend 1 and 2 by having digit cards. Children can pick a card then count out that many conkers to drop into the tin.
- 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 Tree Craft and Math Game
Leaf Sewing- Fine Motor Skills