We have already had our first autumn storm and when I took this book out for a walk to take some photos of it amongst the autumn leave...

Touring Picture Book: Storm & Conker Crafts

Monday, October 15, 2018 BookBairn 6 Comments

We have already had our first autumn storm and when I took this book out for a walk to take some photos of it amongst the autumn leaves that feature on the cover, I discovered that one of the trees along the river which runs through our local park had lost a huge branch into the river in the last storm. So when we were choosing our latest book for Touring Picture Book Club, we felt that this one was the most relevant book for the moment!

Storm by Sam Usher is the final installment in the quartet of seasonal books which highlight the special relationship a boy has with his grandfather, as well as beautifully depicting the changing weather and landscapes around us. In this book, it's blowing a gale and the boy and his grandfather decide that it's perfect kite-flying weather! (Now personally I think it's a don't try this at home sort of story as it's far too stormy to actually fly a kite but we will let this book have some artistic license because it makes for a wonderful and atmospheric story.) But, of course, they can't find the kite. Isn't this always the way? As they search through the cupboards for their beloved kite, they happen across a whole cacophony of items that allow them to reminisce of wonderful memories of their days out together and the special bond that they have.  And each page of the search is interspersed with the increasingly stormy weather developing outside, including a rather hilarious elderly gent who gets more and more swept up by the storm! When they do eventually find their kite and make it outside, they have their best adventure yet. So much so that they actually take flight!

The magic of this book, for me, comes from the incredibly dramatic illustrations of the stormy weather, so much so that as you gaze at the pictures you can almost hear the wind blowing (or perhaps that's just me because it's blowing a gale here as I type). The colour-palette of the greys of the sky is truly perfect when set in contrast against the bright rainbow of kites that tear across it in the breeze. The selection of autumnal leaves which swirl on each page are crafted so beautifully you can feel their movement. This book really is a wonder! And it's a perfect read for autumn which is why it made our 15+ Autumn Reads to Cosy Up With list.

Conker Crafts

After the last storm we went on a woodland walk along the river near where we live to the best conker tree in town and collected over 100 conkers that had tumbled to the ground in the gales. BookBairn loves collecting conkers, especially if she can find ones that are still inside their shell that she can help out. I love having a shiny flat-bottomed one to keep in my pocket, so this is fun for us both but my pockets can't possibly store all those conkers - thank goodness for her brother's buggy. But we have so many I thought we would try our hand at crafting with them!

This is the best conker tree in our local area!

Before I share some of the craft ideas I just wanted to say that collecting conkers is a great way to keep the spiders in your house at bay. As someone who lives in a cottage built in 1760 there are plenty of opportunities for spiders to sneak in but whenever we have conkers lying around for the kids to play with they don't. The only spider I have seen recently (and it was blooming huge!) was when we collected this whole bag of conkers and I suspect it was promptly leaving after being dissuaded by the conkers.

If that's not reason enough to have conkers in your house, I've got a few ideas for how you can use them to keep the kids busy during the next stormy day.

Why not add a play tea set and some water and make conker tea? BookBairn loves doing this and can spend a whole afternoon coming back to this activity over and over.

Similarly you could add some water, wooden spoons and a pot (or witches cauldron) and make conker soup or potions. BookBairn enjoys adding other ingredients too such as large colourful buttons or food from her play kitchen.

Stick some mini googly eyes on the conkers and create little critters that with a little bit of imagination can get up to all sorts of mischief. BookBairn likes to play hide-and-seek with them.

Add some play dough and googly eyes and have lots of fun making snails and then playing with them afterwards - you could even paint the conkers to look like shells.

Create a small world play in a big box by adding some of your other toys. The Wee Page Turner likes to move them around with his diggers. And last year I made a small world for BookBairn with some woodland creature toys and a bit of leftover astroturf from our garden makeover.

Why not set a challenge to see who can make the tallest tower? We used playdough as cement to glue to the conkers together but you could try other things too - even glue! As you can see we didn't manage taller than five conkers that didn't quite last long enough for our photo!

Some other things we are going to try:

  • Currently we have some water and conker muffin trays and bowls freezing in the freezer and I'm going to give BookBairn lots of different tools to crack them open.

  • I like the idea of painting with them by putting some splodges of paint on paper in a large box and rolling them around to create a masterpiece!

  • I think I will try pairing some of the rounder ones with our ball run for The Wee Page Turner.

  • I saw on Instagram when I searched for #conkercrafts that you can use cocktail sticks and florists oasis to make a conker tree which I think would make for a lovely autumn display.
Of course, you could always just drill a whole in them, thread them on to a shoelace and play traditional conkers too! Hope that has inspired you to go and collect some conkers!

Check out the other activities happening across the Touring Picture Book Club and pop over to Along Came Poppy's Twitter to be in with a chance of winning a copy of Storm by Sam Usher of your very own!

Acorn Books - Autumn Sensory Basket

Along Came Poppy - Sensory Playdough for Autumn

Mamma Filz - Autumn Globe  

And look out for our next touring picture book - "The Boy and the Bear" by Tracey Corderoy and Sarah Massini.

And if you've popped over from one of the other fabulous blogs - hello! And our regular readers - hello to you too! We would love to hear if you have any signed books that you love!

Happy Reading!
Mummy, BookBairn and the Touring Picture Book Team!

Disclaimer: all four bloggers were sent copies of the book after we reached out to the publisher and requested them and we were provided with an additional copy for the giveaway. Words and opinions are each of our own. 

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  1. Lots of great ideas. I like the sound of conker soup.

    1. I think Grandma gets the credit for that idea after her button soup!

  2. I love the illustrations in Storm, especially the way that there are so many different shapes of leaf. I love your little conker snails. I still always want to pick up shiny conkers, even though my kids are too old for them now!

    1. Thanks Sarah! The illustrations are spectacular and so detailed! You are so right about the leaves!

  3. That book would be perfect for the weather we currently have. I bet my girl would love to read it on a stormy day too!

  4. The illustrations in this look fabulous, your conker crafts are very cool - I think I need to try some more things like this with mine - I'm not that good at it though lol #KLTR