Summer Water & Sand Activity: Float a Boat
Help children construct their own seaworthy vessel
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2
SKILLS: Children will expand upon their problem-solving and creative-thinking skills as they learn about the concept of sinking and floating through making boats with various materials.
- cups (paper, styrofoam, and plastic)
- empty milk cartons, egg cartons, butter tubs
- styrofoam packing pieces and trays
- small cardboard boxes
- foil, paper rolls, and craft sticks
- glue, masking tape, and yarn or string
- water table, small wading pool, or basin
- waterproof marker
- camera and album
IN ADVANCE: Send a note home to families requesting the suggested recycled materials for this boatmaking activity.
1 During group time, read books about boats, such as Boat Book by Gail Gibbons (Holiday House) or Boats by Byron Barton (HarperFestival).
2 Engage the children in a conversation about boats to find out what they already know. Ask children to think about what makes a boat float on water and what makes it sink. Explain to children that they will each have an opportunity to design their own boat to float in the water.
3 Set up the art area with the suggested materials. Invite small groups of children to the table to work on their boat. Encourage them to look at the different types of materials and experiment. Leave a small basin of water on the table so that children can test their creations. Offer assistance if needed.
4 When children have completed their boats, explain to them that most boats have names. Encourage them to think of a special name for their boat. Help children write the name on each of their boats with a waterproof marker.
5 Now it's time for a sailing party. A snack of cookies and juice is a perfect W way to celebrate. Fill your basins, wading pools, or water table with water. Take a picture of each child with her boat. Also photograph the entire "sea of boats." Make a class "boat book" for the children's library.
For younger children: Spend some time working on float/sink experiments. see if they can guess which objects will sink and which will float before they test each one.
For older children: see if children can find ways to sink the boats they create. What objects and materials will make their boats sink quickly? What objects and materials can the boats carry without sinking?
Have a Regatta! Explain to children that the word regatta means a series of boat races. Include the children in planning different ways to use air to propel their boats. Provide the children with straws, cardboard, and paper tubes. Ask them to think of ways to use these materials to create wind for the boats. An electric fan could be used with adult supervision. Encourage children to experiment.