There is a park by our house with maybe 12-15 Oak trees and every year in late August thousands of acorns fall to the ground. Last year I collected a bunch to use in a sensory bin for the girls, but they went moldy within a few weeks and I ended up throwing them out.
This year, when the trees started littering the park with acorns, I knew there must be an easy way to preserve them for crafts and play. So off to Google I went and found a blog post from Mod Podge Rocks all about it! The process is super easy. Basically wash, bake, use. Baking dries the acorns out and keeps them from decomposing, and bonus, kills any little bugs that may have burrowed inside.
Start by collecting your acorns. I did this with my girls on one of our visits to the park. It is like a fun scavenger hunt for them looking for the best acorns with no broken tops or squirrel bites taken out of them. Once our pockets were full, I washed them in some warm soapy water and lay them out to dry overnight on some paper towel.
The following day, I baked the acorns at 200° for probably 2 hours. To be honest, I popped them into the oven and forgot about them! I remembered 1-2 hours later and luckily none had burned. I simply turned the oven off and left them in there to cool until the following day.
Once baked, the acorns changed colour and a few lost their caps. I used a little hot glue to quickly re-attach any caps that had fallen off . If you like the natural look, you can leave the acorns as is, or spray them with a coat of varnish. I decided to paint mine with some of my favorite Folk Art acrylic paints.
Most colours needed 2 coats, some needed 3 or more. Generally the red and vibrant pink colours are a bit more translucent and need more coats. If I had thought ahead a base coat of white would’ve saved me some time.
I absolutely love how these acorns turned out and now I’m thinking I may keep them all to craft with. I still have only painted half, so I may let my girls have a few to use as loose parts, and keep the rest for a new wreath.