Looking for Easy Fall Crafts For Kids. Then you will love these fun activities with conkers (aka kastanjes, buckeyes, and horse chestnuts).
There is something about big shiny horse chestnuts that children and adults alike are drawn to. Collecting them during the autumn months is a favourite activity for many families. But what do you do with them? Well, that is a good question and one that I have an answer to because I have some really fun fall craft ideas and activities that will keep the kids amused.
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Activities & Easy Fall Crafts For Kids Using Horse Chestnuts
Here in the Netherlands horse chestnuts (known as kastanjes here) are pretty popular and often used in kids’ fall craft projects and activities.
The kids make things like;
- little animals
- wall hangings
And the adults use them to;
- add to autumn floral displays
- display on trays with candles
- fill baskets and display them outside
- make DIY wreaths
Kastanje Dieren & Poppetjes (Horse Chestnut Animals & People)
This is a little fall craft an idea that I made together with the girls last year.
We made cute characters and animals using the horse chestnuts and other things that we were able to find in the park such as acorns, twigs, and leaves.
This is probably one of my favourite fall crafts for kids. It was lovely to see how much the girls enjoyed doing this craft and I was amazed at how creative they were making their little characters and animals.
Materials Needed To Make Horse Chestnut Characters
- Horse chestnuts
- Various other natural bits and bobs
- Metal skewer
- Wooden toothpicks
- Wooden skewers
- Glue (optional)
- Acrylic marker pens
How To Make Horse Chestnut Characters
- Use a metal skewer to make holes in horse chestnuts.
- Connect them together using a combination of wooden skewers and toothpicks (you may want to break off the sharp ends for younger children).
- Use a combination of the conkers and other natural items to create the characters (acorns, pine cones twigs, etc).
- Use acrylic marker pens to draw faces and details onto your characters (if you do not have acrylic marker pens then you could always make the faces by gluing on googly eyes or features cut out from paper).
Once the kids start the fun ideas keep coming and you will be surprised as to how many creative and funny characters they will come up with. It’s quite addictive and is an activity that can keep them busy for ages.
It’s also fun to take photos of them when you are done so when the autumn season is over and the characters have shriveled a bit you will still have fun memories of what you created together.
My girls are a little bit older so they were able to do most of it themselves but I did help when it came to making the bigger holes with the metal skewer (despite them saying “I can do it, mum, I can do it” I thought it was better for me to take charge of this bit). They told me where they wanted the holes making then they carried on with the toothpicks and wooden skewers after I had made the initial holes.
Horse Chestnut Spider Web (Kastanje Spinnenweb)
This is another cute fall craft idea for the kids. I’d love to say this was an original idea of my own but I got this from one of my daughter’s friend’s mum a couple of years ago when she came back home from a playdate proudly clutching one of these. At the time I thought it was so cute and have been planning to share it on here ever since (and now I have finally got around to it).
These are also great to use as Halloween Decor and look really effective when hung from branches. That’s what we did and we added some LED Lights too.
Materials Needed To Make Horse Chestnut Spider Web
- Horse chestnuts
- Metal Skewer
- Wooden skewers or toothpicks (6 to 8)
- Coloured wool or string
How To Make Horse Chestnut Spider Web
It’s a pretty simple idea that the little ones can do too (with a little help of course).
- Decide how many wooden skewers or toothpicks you want to use (we chose to use toothpicks here together with smaller conkers) and firmly push them at even intervals around the conker.
- Tie the end of the wool to one of the skewers
- Then wrap it around the next skewer and keep repeating until you have completed the whole spider’s web.
- When complete firmly tie off the loose end.
You can change the look of this by changing how many skewers you use and whether you choose to use just one colour or make it multi-coloured. And for a bit of variation, we also added some beads onto the ends of the toothpicks and sequins around the edge of a few of ours.
Have fun with it and see what the kids can come up with.
Horse Chestnut Decorative Wall Hangers
And the last idea in this post: horse chestnut decorative hangers.
You can make these very natural looking using other bits and bobs found outside or you can jazz it up by using paint and other accessories from around the home.
Materials Needed To Make Decorative Horse Chestnut Wall Hangers
- Wooden stick (about 30cm)
- Horse chestnuts
- Other natural bits (such as leaves, acorns, pine cones, twigs, etc)
If you decide to jazz it up a bit then you will also need:
- Paint (child-friendly)
- Beads and miscellaneous bits from around the home
How To Make Decorative Horse Chestnut Wall Hangers
- Make holes in your horse chestnuts and other bits you are planning to hang.
- Cut 6 lengths of string in varying sizes (or however many strings you want on your conker wall hanger).
- Make a big knot on the end of the string (I find knotting a bead to the end helps).
- Thread different combinations of your autumn treasures onto the knotted string.
- Repeat with other strings.
- Tie the finished conker strings at even intervals onto the wooden stick.
- Cut another longer length of string and tie it onto each end of the wooden stick so that you can hang it up.
I still have to photograph the one I made with the girls but I will get it done next week when the girls are back to school.
Traditional British Childhood Game Of Conkers
Conkers also remind me of my childhood, we would spend hours and hours collecting them ready to play conkers. Have you ever played conkers? As kids, we used to love it but I think it is a very British thing because when I mention it to people here and try to explain the rules of the game I only ever get blank stares and shoulder shrugs.
How To Play Conkers
- Find the biggest, strongest and shiniest conkers you can find.
- Use a metal skewer (adult supervision is recommended here) and make a hole through the center of the conkers.
- Tie a big knot onto the end of an old shoelace and thread one conker onto the lace so that it sits on top of the knot.
- Find a partner who also has a conker ready dangling on a shoelace.
- Now for the game – one person holds up their shoelace with the conker dangling at the bottom and keeps it very still (it is recommended to do this at arm’s length because it can get a bit violent).
- The other player then tries to smash the other person’s conker with their own.
- You keep taking it in turns to strike the other person’s conker until somebody’s conker breaks.
- The person with their conker still fully intact is the winner!
- This conker becomes a champion conker and you can go on to play other people with the same conker to increase its status. For example, if you beat one other person the conker becomes a 1-er and if you beat 2 people a 2-er, 3 a 3-er, and so on.
How To Cheat At Conkers
Not that I condone this in any way of course but …. as kids, we used to try all sorts of sneaky tricks to try and strengthen our conkers.
These tricks included;
- Baking them in the oven
- Soaking them in vinegar
- Polishing them
- Rubbing hand cream on them
- Etc etc etc
I’m not so sure any of these little tricks worked but I know that everybody secretly cheated and it was commonplace.
If you want to learn more about the traditional British game of conkers you can find it here The Game Of Conkers
Easy Fall Crafts For Kids Summary
I hope you liked these Easy Fall Crafts For Kids and that it has given you a bit of inspiration about what to do with your horse chestnut (conker) collection.
I also have lots more ideas on how you can use horse chestnut in other DIY and home decor projects but I will save that for another day and another post. In the meantime be sure to check out my other Fun Kids’ Crafts & Activities and Fall Decor Ideas and DIY Moss Pumpkins
I’d love to know what you think about these fall craft activities and to hear what your favourite ideas are. You can drop me an email or comment below.
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Looking for more kids’ activities? Then why not do some cooking together: Healthy Banana And Peanut Butter Cookies or make some Puppy Dog Finger Puppets?
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2 thoughts on “Easy Fall Crafts For Kids: Fun Activities With Conkers”
Did you cure the horse chestnuts?
I’m gathering materials for a wreath. I’ve already cured the acorns. I want the wreath to last, so would like to know if I need to do anything with the horse chestnuts.
Sorry for the late response (I have been out of action due to illness but getting back on track now :)), no I did not cure the horse chestnuts as I am not sure how to do that but I think it is definitely something I will explore for next year. How did you cure your acorns?