Sunday, 19 October 2014

Bonkers for Conkers!

I absolutely love this time of year! The colours, the crisp, clear skies, the crunch of the leaves underfoot... oh and the conkers!!

Image from

I have so many happy memories of going out, collecting conkers with my parents...but what do you do with them once they're collected?

Here are just a few ideas for you to try (besides the traditional game of 'conkers'!):

First things first

  • Get your coats on and go out for a lovely Autumn walk. Notice the changes that are happening all around and, of course, collect lots of conkers. Remember to pick up some that are still inside their spiky shells!


  • Why not set up an investigation table where the children can explore their conkers? Add a light box, some magnifying glasses, pictures and simple information books. 

  • Remember to ask some prompting questions to get the children thinking; for example "Do all of our conkers looks the same?"

  • You could also create some beautiful discovery bottles by adding the conkers (plus any other Autumn nature that you like) into a bottle either with or without water. These discovery bottles make a wonderful addition to your light table.

I love these seasonal discovery bottles from Sun Hats & Wellie Boots :


  • After collecting them, encourage your children to count how many conkers that they have in their bags, and develop their numeracy skills further by making comparisons i.e. Does George have more or less conkers in his bag than Belle?

  • Children can weigh and compare conkers using simple balance scales (if you don't have any scales, make your own using a clothes hanger and 2 pots!)

  • A simple muffin tin, or assortment of containers can allow children to sort and organise the conkers. This can be adult led and guided; for example "can you put 3 conkers into each pot?" or you can allow children to sort for their own criteria.

  • Create interesting designs and patterns with your conkers! Cover a large table with paper and draw some grids, circles or other outlines which the children can then use to create their own patterns.

Creative and Art

  • Painting a conker is a skill in itself! The children develop their problem solving skills as they work out how to prevent the conker from rolling away. Remember to add a blob of PVA glue into your paint so that it sticks to the shiny surface of your conkers.

  • Conker rolling: Using a deep tray or last years 'Quality Street' tin, line the bottom with paper, add some dollops of poster paint, add conkers and ROLL! Encourage the children to work out how to make the conkers roll across all of the paper by tipping and turning the tin in different ways.

  • Drawing pictures of the conkers is a lovely calm activity and encourages children to observe and notice details.

  • Transient Art is a type of art which is of the moment and not permanent. Provide some large sheets of paper (I find that black creates a nice contrast) and lots of loose autumn materials (leaves, conkers, twigs etc) and get creating!

Here is a lovely example of Autumn transient art from: NatureNurture :

  • Looking for a larger project? Try and create some large papier mache conkers. All you need is an inflated balloon, some ripped up newspaper (the children will enjoy helping with this!) and a thin mixture of PVA and water. Lots of messy, sensory fun to be had here!

Language and Literacy

  • Work with the children to create an Autumn word wall. Some 'conker' themed words include:



  • Encourage the children to explore their musical instruments to see if they can create spiky sounds (like the outer shell of the conker) or smooth sounds (like the conker itself).

  • Enjoy a music and movement session using some calming music (lots to be found on YouTube) and guide the children and they act out the growing tree, the changing seasons, and the falling of the leaves and conkers to the ground.


  • Use your computers/ tablets to access the Internet and find out more information about conkers. What are conkers? Do they have another name? Are there different types?


  • Another chance to roll those conkers! Build ramps using wooden blocks, large pieces of cardboard or long tubes and have a race! You can extend the learning by prompting the children to make predictions, for example: will the big conker or the small conker win the race?


  • Include conkers as well as other Autumn objects in your water tray area and learn about floating and sinking.

Fine Motor Skills

  • Drill a small hole through each of your conkers and allow the children to practise threading them to create a necklace or maybe even a conker caterpillar!

  • Provide a variety of spoons, ladles etc as well as a few different containers and allow the children to practise scooping and moving the conkers from one place to another. (This takes patience, control and good hand-eye coordination!)

There are oh so many more activities for you to try using conkers. 
If you're wanting more, I'd recommend visiting (a fantastic resource for all EYPs!) if you are not already familiar with it.

Have fun!!


  1. Ive JUST ordered some of the linked spoons from Amazon and we are going to do that activity with the conkers on Monday. You have inspired me...

  2. Brilliant Sarah! It's such a simple activity that can link into many different areas; introducing language, comparing sizes, turn taking, rule play... The possibilities are endless!! Have fun :)