When I was young, most children used to love collecting and keeping conkers – the girls because of their beautiful deep colour and patterns, the boys because of the games they used to play with them. (That probably would be classified as sex discrimination now, because girls can play conkers too…. but in my childhood it simply didn’t happen, at least in the school playground!)
Well, I’m 60 now, and I still love them – I have them in my hurricane candle holders on my window sill in the lounge. My husband was telling me that when the boys in school used to play conkers, they soaked them in vinegar prior to stringing them – apparently it made them harder, and delivered worse bruises on your opponent. (More political incorrectness I’m afraid… health and safety this time!)
So, if you would love to instigate a love of Nature and Trees in your children, start them on collecting Conkers!
You could begin with a simple trip to the park, and go foraging together. For younger toddlers it’s good for motor skills, (although of course you will have to hold the collecting bag!), and for older toddlers and young children it’s good for counting, simple maths, and of course will get them in the fresh air away from the television.
Your imagination will help you make up conker games, but here’s your “starter for 10”. (For those who ever watch / watched University Challenge, they’ll understand).
• Count them
• Sort them – try in size order, biggest first, then smallest first, dark brown and light brown / round shapes & odd shapes etc.
• Arrange them into simple, but different shapes – squares, triangles, rectangles and circles.
• Practice elementary maths – with conkers in front of the children, the abstract concept of 1+1, 2+3 etc. becomes visual, real, and understandable.
• Try to build a tower either together or as a competition.
• Practice putting them in and taking them out of a variety of tins, pots and jars – excellent again for motor skills development, as well as estimating. (How many conkers can fit in this pot?)
• Throwing competitions…put a towel on the floor, and take a few steps back. Then see if your child can throw the conkers onto it.
• Or put a large object (a stone if outdoors, perhaps a bowl if you’ve moved indoors), then see who can throw their conkers closest to the stone. For older children, you can throw in counting here – draw numbered chalk-lines on the patio, and award points depending in which ring the conker lands!
I hope that you have found this blog informative and interesting.
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