Horse chestnuts are inedible, but British children found a fun use for them around the 1840s by turning them into a game called Conkers. Serious conkers players dry their conkers for as long as a year, soak them in vinegar, or bake them-whatever it takes to make the hardest, strongest conker. Don't get too attached, though, because your opponent's goal is to destroy it!
What You Do:
- Adults: Drill a hole in the center of each horse chestnut.
- Have your child measure and cut a 20-inch piece of string for each chestnut you have.
- Next, push the end of one of the strings through the hole in the horse chestnut.
- Tie the end of the string in a double or triple knot that's large enough to prevent the horse chestnut from falling off. This is a conker!
- Repeat with the other chestnuts until they're all attached to a string.
How to Play:
- Have one player hold a conker by the string like a pendulum. It should be hanging completely still.
- The second player will sling his own conker at his opponents, and try to hit the chestnut. When aiming, instruct the player to hold the end of the string with his right hand (if he's right-handed) and pull the chestnut back with his left hand, as if holding a slingshot. Then tell him to snap the conker towards the opponent's.
- After three tries, the players switch and the first player tries to strike the second player's conker.
- The first player to break his opponent's chestnut wins.
Did You Know?
Horse chestnuts, also known as buckeyes, grow throughout North America. If you can't find any horse chestnuts, you can purchase edible chestnuts in most grocery stores.
Photo: Dan Noyes