We’ve been learning about the weather and seasons and watching the squirrels in our yard. It’s that time of year when the grocery store puts out nuts in the shells. Cracking nuts in preschool is fun because it’s generally a new experience for everyone, uses tools, is real work, and it’s rewarding. Actually, it’s one of the most fun activities we’ve done in a long time.
Before introducing this activity to your group, be sure no one has a nut allergy. Do not do this activity if you are unsure. You may want to get a permission form signed.
Cracking Nuts in Preschool
You might find a bulk bin of nuts at your grocery store during November and December. Our assortment includes walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and pecans. If you can’t find any nuts in the shell locally, they are for sale on Amazon.
I set up this activity outside since it was still nice out, and it’s a bit messy.
Tools for Cracking Nuts
The fun part of cracking nuts was using a variety of tools. This is what I found for tools kids can use to crack nuts:
- Assorted Nuts in the Shell
- Table Top Nut Cracker with Wood Handle
- Wooden Mushroom Nut Cracker
- Stainless Steel Table Top Nut Cracker with Wood Handle
- Hand Crank Mill
- Heavy Duty Shell Cracker Tool with Non-Slip Handle
Using pretend versus real tools in preschool – an article by Teach Preschool explores the pros and cons of allowing children to use real tools.
My recommendations are to use real tools in small groups and with active direct supervision. The day we cracked nuts, our practicum student was present, providing two sets of adult hands to help four children ages 3-5.
It is a good idea to provide children eye protection, just in case.
We used some of the following tools to crack nuts out of their shells. They all require supervision.
We found out that some nuts truly are “tough nuts to crack”. The most fun wer the big walnuts!
My group working on cracking nuts were ages 3-5 years old. They needed little direction, just got busy! This was a task they were highly engaged in and took seriously.
I provided small jars for them to put the nuts in after they removed them from the shells. Only a couple children were interested in actually eating the nuts.
Sometimes the kids needed help because they weren’t strong enough but mostly they were able to crack the nuts unassisted which made them feel so proud of themselves. Building self confidence is invaluable!
Considerations for Cracking Nuts with Young Children
Please use your judgement when considering this activity for your group. We will definitely do it again! It was super engaging for my crew, but it just depends on the ages of children you have and their level of ability.
Another method for safely cracking nuts in preschool would be to crack the nuts yourself as they watch and they can use the picks to get the meat out of the shell.
The process of sorting shells and nuts is fun too! Children love jars for collecting like items.
They loved using the nut picks. No one was injured in this activity. Sometimes we have to trust children to use materials and let them learn.
Using tools and machines help chidlren understand how things work and that they are capable.
I’m glad my practicum student was here to assist because it’s hard to do it all at once the way children like to do things! So if you can have help that would be ideal or work with each child one on one.
Cracking nuts is a wonderful fall and winter activity for little hands!
After we were done with the nuts, we put them in the garden for the squirrels who thoroughly enjoyed them!