Life cycle of a conker

by Fellowship Agency October 10, 2017

Spend some quality time outside with your class and with nature to learn all about the great outdoors and the life cycle of a conker.

You will need…

  • Shallow Gratnells tray with a 4-section tray insert.
  • Horse chestnut tree bearing conkers

What to do…

  • Head outside and find a big horse chestnut tree.
  • Collect leaves, conkers in their casings, empty conker casings and ‘hatched out’ conkers.
  • Place each item into a different section of the tray insert.

What is happening?

The horse chestnut is a deciduous tree. New leaves appear on the tree in early spring. In May the tree produces white and pink flowers. The flowers are pollinated by insects and each one develops into a conker (the seed) encased in a spiky green husk. In the autumn the husks split open, fall to the ground and the conkers fall out. Deer and other mammals like to eat the conkers, children also like to collect them and play the traditional game ‘conkers’ with them.

Further activities and questions?

Plant your conkers and grow new horse chestnut trees! Fill a deep gratnells tray half full with water and pop your conkers in. The ones that float can be discarded (or used for the other activities below), they have dried out and will not grow into new tree if planted. The conkers that sink can be planted individually about 2cm deep into posts of soil/compost. It is best to do this before the end of November. Water and place your pots in a sheltered spot outside. Protect the pots from predators and check regularly to see if they need watering. In the spring, re-pot young tress as they grow bigger. Once they are well established, plant your new trees out in a suitable spot – they will grow very large so think carefully about where to put them!

Play conkers: With the help of an adult, drill a small hole through the middle of your conkers. Thread ~30am string through the hole and tie a knot in the end so your conker cannot slip all the way through. Find a friend with a conker and challenge them to a match!

Conker creatures: Using conkers and other nature materials, make some minibeast inspired creatures or create your own mystical conker beast!

Health & Safety

As with all Gratnells Learning Rooms What’s in my tray activities you should carry out your own risk assessment prior to undertaking any of the activities with children.