Kids Get Crafty: Chestnut Crafts (Pencil Toppers)

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Welcome to this week’s Kids Crafts – this week we share with your our horse chestnut craftChestnut Pencil Toppers. Crafting with chestnuts, acorns, leaves and bits and pieces is something that I remember well from early childhood.. mainly we would make little animals, similar to the acorn critters from last week.

autumn crafts
First shared in Sept 2011

Chestnuts are slightly trickier to craft with, as they tend to be harder than acorns. So many Germans have a special chestnut tool! But we managed with a sharp pair of kitchen scissors (used by me only) and tooth picks. I do remember this being slightly frustrating and yet strangely rewarding as a child! So do help them, where you can!

I am also, always on the look out for new chestnut crafts (we made plenty of chestnut creatures) and loved the idea of making pencil toppers, that I found here. I thought they were rather adorable. But we didn’t have “all the bits” and I was worried about the longevity of them. So here are our own.. simpler ones!x

Our Book

The summer holidays are over. Red Ted is back at nursery school and there is a fresh bite in the air. The skies are blue. The parks are littered with chestnuts and acorns. There is definitely a bit of Autumn in the air!

Oddly, we don’t have that many autumn books to choose from – though we are going to library again next week and see what I can dig up. One sweet little book that I have reviewed before is –

Leaf Trouble

Leaf Trouble, Jonathan Emmett. This book tells the story of a little squirrel called Pip (perfect for our Pip Squeak!). Pip wakes one day to find that things are different: the leaves are changing colour and falling off the tree. Surely this isn’t right?! What is happening. His mum comes and explains why it is happening and that the leaves will come back again – a little like how the sun sets and comes back again the next day. I love the ending, where Pip compares the beautiful autumn colours to the setting sun. Very pretty.

The Craft

We made lots and lots of things in one session… doesn’t a bowl full of Autumn findings just look gorgeous?

Autumn Crafts

How to make Chestnut Pencil Topper Video:

Watch the video or read the step by step instructions below!!

Chestnut Pencil Toppers – materials

  • Chestnuts (aka Conkers)
  • Toothpicks,
  • a pen,
  • glue,
  • scissors,
  • funky foam/ card or felt (optional),
  • googly eyes (optional)

How to make Conker Pencil Conker Toppers and Animals

Our focus was on the chestnuts, as mentioned above, some people use a little chestnut tool to work with. We found, that tooth picks worked on some fresher and softer chestnuts and were not, our kitchen scissors came into good use. I would prick a hole and the children would add the tooth picks.. or instruct me as to where they wanted things to go.

Kastanien Basteln
Autumn Crafts

Red Ted LOVED the fact that the Chestnuts have “natural faces” and for once preferred drawing on eyes to using googley eyes.

Kastanien Basteln
Kastanien Basteln

We made a lion (that we also found here) a giraffe, some hedgehogs, a piggy and a boy (with drawn on face and belly button – we used some of those “flat chestnuts” as feet, so that it can stand up without toppling).

Kastanien bastlen
Kastanien basteln

I then made some pencil toppers for the children – cutting out some foam shapes for ears and features, drawing on faces. Above you can see, that I cut some slits for the ears and then glued them in… We loved using natural features – such as the markings of the chestnut for the nose of the bear… And with the scissors I carved out a hole big enough for the pencil.

Kastanien Basteln
Kastanien Basteln

[Mermaid just suggested in the comments to use a hot glue gun… yes, I believe that would make all the difference]. The Teddy was the most “durable” – as the inserted ears glue well. We discovered that the funky foam and the “shiny” part of chestnut doesn’t stick too well… I had to go back and sneak on some super glue. So.. design you chestnuts with “insertions” or try out what glue sticks best…. OR just keep the pencil toppers at home – they are fine in use at home, just not in a pencil case where they get knocked about!

See our full set of Chestnut DIYs here:

The video tutorial is also available on YouTube