INSPIRATIONS - conkers
What is a conker, where do you find them and what can you do with them?
Useful items from our shop
- Conker Clamp (Kids at Work)
- Conker Clamp - Mushroom (Kids at Work)
- Softwood Hand Drill - Set of 3 (Kids at Work)
- Acrylic Pens - Pack of 5
- Buff School Clay - 12.5kg
- Discover Leaves & Seeds Set
- Palm Drills
- Sisal String
- Trail Disc - Fruit - Horse Chestnut
- Trail Disc - Leaf - Horse Chestnut
- Tree Identification Set
Consider the environmental impact of preparing, carrying out & completing this activity. Could this impact be reduced? Specific considerations for this activity could include:
- ideally collect conkers that will mainly fall onto the ground where they are unlikely to grow, such as paths, roads
- assess how abundant you feel the source is
- look at our Tips for foraging.
- many of your conkers could be returned back to where you found them after you have finished playing with them
Health & Safety Considerations
Follow your usual operating procedures and carry out appropriate risk benefit assessments.
Some considerations particular to this activity include:
- collecting natural materials
What you'll need
This activity has been provided by
Conker is the name used to refer to the fruit of the horse chestnut tree (aesculus hippocastanum). Often these trees grow to 25m tall, with a massive domed crown. The bark, grey in colour, is interesting and often flakes away in large pieces. Its limbs look twisted and can snap off when large.
Leaves are large, up to 25cm long, stalked and composed of up to 7 leaflets.
Horse chestnuts have large creamy-white blooms in the spring which are popular with insects, particularly bees. They are followed by spiky green seedpods developing over the summer, then in the autumn have shiny brown conkers bursting out of the seedpods which have turned from green to yellow and brown.
Horse chestnuts arrived in the UK in the late 16th century and there are now a couple of million trees in the UK. Almost half are infected by an invasive moth larvae know as the horse chestnut leaf miner. They burrow into the leaf turning the leaf brown and effecting the amount of food the tree can absorb by burrowing into and damaging the leaves.
A selection of ideas and resources to kick start and complement your child-led conker activities.
make your conkers more versatile for projects by making a hole through them. Look at our step-by-step conker drilling guide.
With gathered natural materials
Conker clay or land art
Collect lots of conkers and other resources and let the creativity begin!
Connect the conkers and create a person, creature or shape.
Add conkers to your work bench as a seasonal resource to explore and get creative with.
Such a simple thing, but to count and sort your conkers is an amazing way to learn whilst exploring your bounty.
Use acrylic pens to decorate your conkers.
Horse Chestnut identification:
Explore the differences between sweet chestnut and horse chestnut trees and fruits.
Muddy Faces also has lots of resources to help with identification:-
Conkers up close:
Explore the beautiful patterns on the conker shell – follow the swirls and watch how the light reflects.
Go on a conker hunt, then provide some magnifying glasses and and see what happens.
If weather appropriate, provide note and sketch books and see what words are used and what creative pictures are drawn.
Support the population of horse chestnut trees and help to ensure plenty of conkers for future generations. Follow our tree planting guide.
There are rules, tips and more on the World Championship Conkers website.
Once you have drilled the conkers see what the children do with some string. Stiffen the string using tape to help thread it through the conkers.
Disclaimer: Muddy Faces cannot take any responsibility for accidents or damage that occurs as a result of following this activity.You are responsible for making sure the activity is conducted safely.