Ready-To-Use Teaching Ideas: Problem Solving


  • sponges
  • chart paper and marker
  • Styrofoam (large pieces or cups, bowls, or small plates)
  • wood scraps
  • cardboard scraps or small boxes and lids
  • egg cartons
  • paper tubes and straws
  • foil wrap
  • plastic containers
  • variety of paper: oaktag, tissue paper, construction paper
  • child safety scissors
  • glue and tape
  • water table or large basin
  • variety of fans

Objective: Children will strengthen science, math, creative-thinking, and problem solving skills as they explore boat making.


  1. Engage children in a discussion about boats. Encourage them to share what they know about boats.
  2. Invite children to make their own boats to use for floating/sinking experiments. Set out the boat-making materials. Encourage children to be creative with their boat-making.
  3. Ask children to take their completed boats to the water table. Explain that some boats may float and others may not and that if their boat doesn't float, they can make another one. Ask children to observe which boats float and which ones sink. What do they notice about the boats? Are the boats that float made of similar materials or are they similar sizes? Does the size of the boat seem to matter? Record children's responses on chart paper.
  4. Engage children in discussions about why some of the boats sink and others float. Refer to their recorded observations. Encourage them to notice different types of materials, the various sizes of boats, and the weight of materials.
  5. Invite the class to think of ways that they could make their boats move without touching them. Provide them with materials to investigate with like plastic straws, a small battery-powered fan, or a paper fan. Have a boat race to test the different materials.
  6. Place the boat materials in a labeled container so children can continue making boats and learning about materials.

Curriculum Connection: MATH

Sinking Ships. Collect several small plastic tubs (such as butter containers), marbles, wooden blocks, pom-poms, and small toys. Place the empty tubs in the water table. Ask children to predict what will happen when the different objects are placed into the empty containers. Will the tub sink or float? Encourage children to experiment with the different materials. What will cause a plastic container to sink?


The Boat Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallota

Boat Book by Gail Gibbons

Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen