Now is the time for going nuts! Tesco’s still have their post-Xmas sale and as usual I am there to pick up the bargains.

Admittedly I have been waiting for this moment. Over the years nuts with shells on them have become a less popular festive treat. Walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and almonds are at knock down prices. I bought five kilos for less than £5.

Until this year I had not fully considered the play value of nuts. Entering several Czech and Swedish nurseries where there were big bowls of conkers did wake me up to their potential.

Now if I had been more organised and not away gallivanting around Europe in autumn I would have enjoyed a leisurely stroll in the nearby woods to pick up some nuts including acorns, beech nuts and conkers. But I am mindful of the wildlife such as red squirrels which rely on nuts as a food source. This is important especially in my neck of the woods where the red squirrels have not been chased out by the grey ones.

One of my favourite ambulatory activities uses nuts. This is an activity that is done on the move. If you are taking children on a walk and returning by the same route, it works well. Basically, you do a wee chat before the walk about squirrels and other animals hiding their food. The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes is a good book to generate discussions here. Then you give each child a few hazelnuts or other native nuts to hide in different places along the walk. On the way back, their job is to try and remember where they have hidden their supplies. This helps children to understand the challenge of hibernating and then trying to recall where you stored your food.


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