It’s acorn season.
We live in an area where huge old oak trees are everywhere, stretching their ancient branches heavy with acorns and covered in luminous green leaves almost down to the ground. Getting out of the car at ballet, or walking across the park almost requires a helmet as nuts drop randomly on the heads of anyone crazy enough to stay under the branches for too long.
Each day more and more acorns arrive at our house. They come in handfuls deposited on the table, emptied out of school uniform pockets as they go into the washing machine and I even found a couple in my bed last night. I’ve long since given up trying to stop them, there is no point, my kids are all compelled to collect them. So if you can’t beat them… join them, right?
We grabbed a collecting bag and headed to the park late last week looking for acorns. Not just any old acorns, three specific acorny things –
1. The girls were hunting for acorns with their caps still on.
2. Morgan was looking for empty acorn caps.
3. And Noah was collecting as many un-split acorns as he could find.
All set with their task the collecting began in earnest with the big kids helping each other and everyone helping Noah. There were lots of exclamations and excitement when a particularly good specimen was found and many other interesting discoveries to side track us along the way such as huge orange toad stools.
By now you might be wondering why I was not only allowing my kids to collect acorns, but encouraging it…. well that’s because collecting stuff is good for kids.
Whether they are collecting acorns, rocks, shells, sticks, stamps or something else children are learning and using skills such as number and counting, classifications, organisation and decision making.
Collecting natural materials have an added bonus, they are usually free! It also means the kids get outside, move, run, climb and explore. My kids were working together, sharing, helping each other and negotiating as they collected.
But even collections of store bought items have positives. As much as I really dislike Moshi Monsters my girls are learning to budget and make wise spending choices as they save their pocket money to buy the little bits of coloured plastic. They are also using all those mathematical and science skills mentioned above with lots of reading thrown in as they read about each character, and even make up their own stories to go with them.
But what are we going to do with all those acorns?
The acorns with their caps on became acorn people and have featured in many imaginative games and stories.
The empty acorn caps were made into ‘acorn cap jewels‘
And the rest of the acorns have been sorted by colour, lined up by size, used as pretend food, counted, crushed for ‘potions’, dumped in and out of containers, and planted so that one day we can have our own oak tree.
Do your kids like to collect stuff?
Have you got any more ideas for what we can do with all these acorns?