Conkers for Counting

This week the fine Autumn weather tempted us to the local park with Daisy, while Mummy and Daddy did more boring things at home.  As Daisy ran along the tree-lined path to the playground a strong gust of wind shook the branches overhead and conkers dropped from the sky, one bouncing of Daisy’s head (no harm done).  The swings had to wait while Daisy and Grandpa harvested the windfall and soon conkers, in and out of their green spiky shells, were piled in the buggy.

A pile of conkers (or horse-chestnuts) on the grass.

When the possibilities of the playground were exhausted the conkers were ferried home, Daisy carrying a special ‘baby’ conker.  At home we put groups of conkers out and talked about them.

We selected five conkers and helped Daisy sort them into size order talking about the biggest and smallest ones.

We then used the conkers as counters, and together we counted them into groups of two, three, four and five.

Clusters of conkers in small groups on a green background, ready to be counted for a numeracy activity.

These activities were perfect ‘natural’ ways of continuing to use the language of size and practising counting.  Based on your grandchild’s age you can decide how many conkers to count.

Finding conkers about to emerge from their ‘shells’ gave Daisy the opportunity to explore how they may be prised free, their shiny appearance when fresh, their soft ‘bedding’ and the contrasting tough outer shell.   Daisy also tried fitting some of the conkers back into the spiky shell pieces.

Some spiky shells house two conkers and this ignited childhood memories from Grandpa and he explained the relative merits of the different sizes and shapes including the much prized ‘cheese-cutter’.   Further research by Grandpa revealed that as seeds, conkers will germinate if still fresh; they need to be soaked well in water before planting into pots.

Granny Smith says

Conkers can be a choking hazard and are classed as semi-poisonous so please take care and keep away from pets.


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