Monday, 8 April 2013

bonkers about conkers

T loves conkers and acorns and fills his pockets ( and mine) whenever we find them. I thought we'd use some of the pile we've collected in the fruit bowl to make a little maths game- the aim of the game being to mix the numbers up and then put them back in the correct order. 

Since taking the photos I've also made an all important 0. I also made some dot cards so he could count the dots and match them to the numeral.

I set the dot cards out like the image below. The dots in rows show 5 as a benchmark so the kids can easily see more or less than 5.  I did this to help develop their subitizing skills, the ability to 'instantly see how many'. This skill plays a fundamental role in the development of childrens’ understanding of number. 

T loved the game and drew one conker out at a time matching it to the card building up a conker number line. I loved seeing his chubby wee finger point to the dots as he counted.

He also liked me drawing one conker at a time from the little wooden storage box for him to name. We used them to make up 2 digit numbers for the big school girl to read too.

Next we're going to make 11-20 so we can wor on those sometimes tricky 'teen' numbers.

There's so many ways to use them and they were found under a tree for free- bonus!

I painted numerals on them with white paint and gave them a quick spray of clear polyurethane.

Some more info on dot frames and ten frames:



While we're on the subject of conkers, I've always wondered how the game using them is played. It has too much potential for ' ouchies'  for us just yet but still interesting: 

Conkers is a traditional children's game in Britain and Ireland played using the seeds of horse-chestnut trees—the name 'conker' is also applied to the seed and to the tree itself. The game is played by two players, each with a conker threaded onto a piece of string: they take turns striking each other's conker until one breaks.

The game
A hole is drilled in a large, hard conker using a nail, gimlet, or small screwdriver. An electric drill such as a "Dremel" using increasing drill-bit diameters at intermittent intervals, produces less internal damage to the nut's core and is highly effective during the hardening period / process. Once ready for action, a piece of string is threaded through it about 25 cm (10 inches) long (often a shoelace is used). 

A large knot at one or both ends of the string secures the conker. The game is played between two people, each with a conker.

They take turns hitting each other's conker using their own. One player lets the conker dangle on the full length of the string while the other player swings their conker and hits.
The conker eventually breaking the other's conker gains a point. This may be either the attacking conker or (more often) the defending one.

A new conker is a none-er meaning that it has conquered none yet.

If a none-er breaks another none-er then it becomes a one-er, if it was a one-er then it becomes a two-er etc. In some areas of Scotland, conker victories are counted using the terms bully-one, bully-two, etc. In some areas of the United States and Canada, conker victories are counted using the terms one-kinger, two-kinger, etc.

The winning conker assimilates the previous score of the losing conker, as well as gaining the score from that particular game. For example, if a two-er plays a three-er, the surviving conker will become a six-er (the sum of the two previous scores plus one for the current game).
Hardening conkers

The hardest conkers usually win. Hardening conkers is often done by keeping them for a year (aged conkers are called laggies in many areas or seasoners in Ireland and Liverpool), baking them briefly, soaking or boiling in vinegar, or painting with clear nail varnish. Such hardening is, however, usually regarded as cheating. At the British Junior Conkers Championships on the Isle of Wight in October 2005, contestants were banned from bringing their own conkers due to fears that they might harden them. The Campaign For Real Conkers claimed this was an example of over-regulation which was causing a drop in interest in the game. In the World Conker Championship contestants are also restricted to using the conkers provided.

One factor affecting the strength of a conker is the shape of the hole. A clean cylindrical hole is stronger, as it has no notches or chips that can begin a crack or split.

Can you believe there is such a thing as the World Conker Championship? It's true, have a look here. The 2013 World Conker Championships will be held at Southwick, near Oundle, Northamptonshire, UK on 13th October 2013!- quick- book your tickets! : )


  1. As a conker afficianado i have to point out that the only way to string a conker is on a shoe lace! (Better grip/avoid friction burns). once had a six-bully, it was just naturally rock hard. I broke a few boys hearts with that baby. Have just oven dried some so i can introduce claud to a bit of her cultural heritage!
    I like your new use for conkers, nice to have them have something natural in their hands instead of plastic everything x

  2. he he Max, I can just see it, shattered pride and conkers and all. I might make up a few so I can challenge the the hubby to a game lol!

  3. This is pretty cool - haven't seen it before!