Conkers: A British Kid's Game
Horse chestnuts are inedible, but British children found a fun use for them around the 1840s by turning them into a game called Conkers. With the 2012 London Olympics coming up this summer, it's the perfect time to introduce your child to this traditional British game. 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 Need:
- Horse chestnuts
- Drill or rotary tool
- Heavy duty string
What You Do:
- Help your child drill a hole in the center of each horse chestnut.
- Have your child measure and cut a 20" 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, which is 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 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 try to sling his own conker at his opponents, and try to hit the chestnut. When aiming, hold the end of the string with the left hand (if you're left-handed) and pull the chestnut back with the right hand, as if holding a slingshot. Then 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