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20 Things to do With Conkers - Fun Activities for Kids

What to do With Conkers

Conkers, or Buckeyes for those of you in the US, create such an unusual response in people. What other seed causes children in their droves to run after school to the largest Horse Chestnut Tree in the village and start hurling sticks at it in a desperate hope to win their prize? That perfect conker, that's bigger and shinier than all their friends'. It affects adults too though, causing us to reminisce about our childhood and the autumn days spent running around collecting nature's treasures, playing games, making leaf rubbings and eagerly awaiting the first snow.

What do we do with our Conkers though once the excitement of smashing your friends is over and you still have your collection gathering dust in the Hall? The answer to that of course is so many things! There is more than one game that can be played with Conkers and there are lots of crafting options for them as well as using them around the home.

Playing Conkers

Playing Conkers

Conker Games

  • Conkers - The Original Game of course deserves a mention for those of you who have managed to avoid it thus far in life. Put a hole in your conker using a skewer, thread some string and tie it in place with a not then take it in turns hitting your friends conker with yours until one of them smashes and falls from the string. Try baking them, soaking them in vinegar and painting with nail polish to see if it really does help make a stronger conker.
  • Marbles - Conkers can be used as a slightly misshapen marbles set, you can even paint them if you wish.
  • Pretend Play, include them in your child's kitchen as an extra ingredient or make fairy furniture with them using cocktail sticks to display in the garden.
  • Plant one out and teach your child about how seeds germinate and grow. Most importantly enjoy getting muddy!
  • Counting Games to help your child with their numbers and practice early maths skills.
  • Throw them on the fire and see them explode (parental supervision of course)
  • Ammunition in a catapult.
  • Conker and Spoon Races - Far Less messy than eggs!
  • Play Boules. Use paint to mark your own and play on a table rather than in the garden.
Conker Art to Scare Spiders

Conker Art to Scare Spiders

Crafty Conkers

  • Skewer lots of conkers and use them as beads - this helps develop your child's fine motor skills.
  • Following on from the above conker necklaces are said to bring luck to the wearer. Don't just leave it at necklaces though, you can make a bracelet and ear-rings too!
  • Using pipe cleaners and glue you can make little conker men as demonstrated in the adjacent picture.
  • Thread them and decorate them to make Christmas Tree Decorations or thread a large quantity to make a conker garland. They can be painted or covered in glue and rolled in glitter as well.
  • Use them to paint with, dip in paint and either block print or roll to create different patterns on the paper.
Christmas Decorations with Conkers

Christmas Decorations with Conkers

Around the Home

  • Decorating with Conkers can create attractive and seasonal features which work from early Autumn right through Christmas. It can be something as simple as decorating a small basket with ribbon and displaying your conkers in it. Filling vases with conkers either by themselves or mixing a trail of fairy lights through it also looks good especially at Christmas.
  • Conkers are good for keeping spiders at bay so throw a few into the corners of your rooms or for a more artistic look use some of your conker men created above to display in room corners and window ledges. Vinegar is also supposed to affect spiders so try soaking your conkers in vinegar as well.
  • Conkers are also good for getting rid of clothes moths so put a few in the pockets of clothes or hand them from a clothes hanger either beaded together or in a small cloth bag.
  • Traditionally Horse Chestnuts have been used as a treatment for Varicose Veins. See here for details on how to take the gel and remember this is to be applied to the skin only. Horse Chestnuts are not safe to eat.
  • Make Soap - Really! Take about two dozen conkers, peel and remove the brown skin. Grate the white innards and place in a piece of cheesecloth in a bowl of water for a few hours. Lift the conker whites out of the water in the cheese cloth and squeeze out excess moisture before placing in a soap mould.
  • Washing Clothes - Boil the white chopped up insides of the conkers in a pan of water until the water turns milky and frothy. Strain out the nuts and the remaining water can be used as a detergent.
Washing With Conkers

Washing With Conkers

Photo Source: By Ben Francis

What do you do With Conkers?

Remember, Conkers aren't just for children and if you keep honing your skills you can even take part in the World Conker Championships!!

If there is anything special you use your conkers for then I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.


Rachael Tate (author) from England on November 25, 2014:

Poetryman6969 I've never heard of the Osage orange. I'm off to google it now!

Rachael Tate (author) from England on November 25, 2014:

Emilia, sweet chestnuts are for roasting. Horse chestnuts would give you a stomach ache.

Rachael Tate (author) from England on November 25, 2014:

Dzymslizzy I never thought about sticking them together like that. Great idea! Will have to try it next year.

jan93 on November 24, 2014:

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This is a very interesting article that I did not know about.Thanks for sharing this and for the tips.I want to try this someday to see how it works.

Emilia Riera from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 24, 2014:

Chestnuts are toxic? I used to collect and roast them. Not too tasty - much prettier in the shell. Maybe I didn't have access to the toxic kind. Anyhow, lots of fun - reminded me of the days in childhood where the "bad boys" would through the chestnuts still in the spiny hull, at each other. Youch!

poetryman6969 on November 24, 2014:

Reminds me a bit of the uses for the Osage orange. It's not edible either.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on November 24, 2014:

Contrats on HOTD!!

How funny--my mother used to tell about playing with horse chestnuts when she was a child. She did not mention calling them 'conkers,' or playing such games as these, or other uses.

She spoke instead about their outer, spiky hulls, and sticking them together, velcro-like, to build things.

I had no idea there were so many uses.

Voted up, useful, funny and interesting.

monia ben saad from In my Dream on November 24, 2014:

so sweet and funny

Rachael Tate (author) from England on November 24, 2014:

Thank you all for the quotes and the comments. getting the kids disconnected is so important. They might love the computer age but I always worry that they're missing out if I don't try to get them doing the things I used to do as a child!

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on November 24, 2014:

I've never heard of conkers, but having spent 10 of my formative years in Ohio, I definitely know about buckeyes. Thanks for the flashback to my youth and congratulations on Hub of the Day!

RTalloni on November 24, 2014:

Oh yes… :) Congrats on your Hub of the Day award! Sorry I got distracted by the quote thing… :)

mySucceed is on target--the ideas to get kids disconnected and give quality family time are some of the best here!

mySuccess8 on November 24, 2014:

There are various olden day kids’ activities that are unique to different parts of the world, before the advent of new technologies such as the internet, or before there were TVs. These brought quality family fun time that unite our children during those times. You have highlighted one of these activities very well, and added more fun to it for the present. Congrats on Hub of the Day!

RTalloni on November 24, 2014:

Okay, this hub is neat. Who knew there were so many great real-life uses for buckeyes?! But Julius Caesar made me laugh out loud this morning, and has started something…

"They conker who believe they can."

Julius Caesar on November 24, 2014:

I came. I saw. I conkered.

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