There is something about having children that makes you think back and reminisce about your own childhood. Taking our baby daughter for a walk through the park on an uncharacteristically lovely North German autumn day, hubby noticed the abundance of chestnuts on the grass. “Have you ever made little animals out of chestnuts?” he inquired. “I don’t think so…” I replied but, as he continued explaining what exactly he means by chestnut animals and how they are made, old memories begun resurfacing.
Of course I know what chestnut animals are! However, in my childhood autumn crafts I used acorns more often than chestnuts. In fact, one of my favorite childhood stories was about the adventures of a little acorn man, “Zīļuks” in Latvian.
We spontaneously decided to gather some chestnuts and acorns to make fall decorations for our home. Who cares that our baby daughter is still too small to participate, it should not stop us from reliving our childhood memories, right?
We had a lovely evening creating little animals from the chestnuts and acorns. Half the fun was trying to figure out what it is that we had made: is it a caterpillar or a snake? A goat, a horse, or a donkey? Hubby even created the little acorn man from my childhood fairytale!
Making little figurines out of acorns and chestnuts is a typical activity for kindergartners’ and pre-schoolers’ both in Germany and Latvia, and I am sure also many other countries. It gave us adults a lot of fun and it is a truly great fall activity for doing with kids: first you get to run around in the fresh air to hunt down the nearest chestnut trees and oaks, and then you can work together and let your imaginations run wild to create the cutest little animals or other figurines. Here is how.
Chestnut Zoo: Fall Craft with Kids
You will need:
- Chestnuts and/or acorns
- Toothpicks or matches
- A tool for boring small holes
- A scissor or a nail cutter
- Some glue
- (optional) glueable googly eyes
- (optional) a white or silver permanent marker
The creation process is fairly simple and straightforward. Both chestnuts and acorns are soft so holes are made easily. You can make holes in each side of the chestnuts to connect them to one another with the help of matchstick or toothpick pieces to create a caterpillar or a snake. You can make many little holes and stick in toothpicks to create a hedgehog, or put a chestnut on four skinny legs and attach an acorn head to create a four-legged animal of your choosing.
If you have also found some acorn tops, they make great hats or shoes for the figurines and are best attached with some glue. Once your little animal is done, you can decorate it with a pair of googly eyes or draw its eyes, nose, and mouth with a white or silver permanent marker. It gives them more personality, don’t you think?
This is our little zoo:
Have fun creating your own chestnut and acorn animals! If you need more inspiration, just do an image search for “kastanientiere“.