Conkers - Not Just for Smashingby Leyla Brooke
My middle child seems to get very excited by the idea of finding conkers. Every year she fills her pockets at every opportunity she gets. Eagerly scouring the ground to see how many she can find. She likes to find the ones still in there shell and smashes it open with great enthusiasm to revel the treasure inside. Every year this means we end up with 100s of conkers at home, and to be honest there are only so many conker fights you can have.
1. Paint them
Conkers coincide with Halloween which is actually quite handy because you can paint them. Using acrylic or nail varnish conkers can be painted and made into scary decorations for Halloween. We love to use orange nail varnish and paint them into pumpkins, using a little bit of black to create spooky designs on them.
2. Paint with them
You can also paint with them to create some pretty cool patterns. Using a box lid or tray stick a piece of plain paper onto the lid or tray. Dip a conker into paint and place onto the lid or tray. Then tilt to make the conker roll. As it rolls it leaves behind paint trails to create some rather unique pieces of art. My girls first did this at 3 years old and still enjoy doing it 6 years later. They do get creative though and put more than once conker in at a time which can create some even more unique designs
3. Create animals
Conkers can be stuck together to create a variety of animals, all you need is glue and some googly eyes! You can get more creative by adding paint too or even pipe cleaners the only real limit is your imagination. If you have lots of conkers you could stick them together to create a snake or a caterpillar.
I have used conkers to aid my children's learning. With phonics, I have used a black marker to write letters on to the top. I then use the letters to write words to help my children blend the sounds together to read the word. Starting with SATPIN and then progressing to the other phonics sounds. It is a good way to visualise the individual sounds and encourages them to pick out letters and try blending sounds together.
Just as with phonics I have used conkers to help with maths. I might draw a number and ask them to get out that many conkers. This is a good way to have children count out and work out how many there are. Conkers can also aid in simply division by sharing them into certain pots. For some children this visual representation and actually performing the task of sharing can help make the concept click into place.
5. Conker wreaths
Create a wreath with a conker is a simple as you want to make it. You don’t have to do a circle shape if you don't want to. Once the shape has been decided upon stick the conker together to form the shape leaving the centre blank. You can make the wreath as thick or as thin as you would like and obviously to what size you want too.