Friday, August 3, 2012

DIY Play Boats (Mini Tutorial & Preschool Activity)

Olivia and I were both getting a little bored today.  We tried playing outside, but none of our friends were out and it was getting hot, so I lured her back into the air-conditioned house with the promise of "making a boat" after we finished her reading lesson.  Truth be told, I didn't really have anything specific in mind when I told her that we'd "make a boat," but it sounded fun in my head.

I thought she had forgotten about it, but as soon as we finished her reading lesson (which was so fun and easy today--thank goodness!) she reminded me that it was time to "make a boat."  Hmm.  We had made paper boats (like this) for preschool before and they didn't go over so well.  They get soggy and sink, even if you make them out of wax paper.  So I started looking around the kitchen for small things that might float and we came up with a fun and easy little boat design.

What did we come up with?

Ta-da!  This little boat is fun and easy for little hands to make and play with.  Want to make your own?  Then let's get crackin'!



To make your own, here's what you'll need:

  • a small plastic tupperware dish
  • a sticky note
  • a toothpick
  • a small piece of clay
  • crayons
  • scotch tape (not pictured)

Step 1: Color sail

Commission a local artist to draw fancy designs on your sail (i.e. sticky note).

Step 2: Squish clay

Get a small amount of clay*, roll it into a ball, and then squish it onto the center bottom of the boat (i.e. plastic tupperware dish).

*We used a small piece of Fimo clay, but play dough and other kinds of clay will probably work well too.

Step 3: Affix sail to mast

Have an adult poke the toothpick through each end of the sail.

Step 4: Tape sail top

We added this as an afterthought because our sail kept slipping off.  Get a small piece of scotch tape and fold it over the top of your mast (i.e. toothpick) so your sail will stay in place.

Step 5: Mount mast

Stick the bottom (non-taped) end of the mast (i.e. toothpick) into the clay.

That's it!  Now you're ready to get sailing!

Preschool Activity:

Once our little boat was sea worthy, I filled a small baking dish with about an 1" of water and we set to work playing with our little vessel.

Blow the boat

First Olivia put it in and I showed her how to blow the sail to move the boat around without touching it.

She got pretty good at it.

See what the boat can hold

Then we thought we'd better see what this baby could handle.

Test #1
Object: two crayons
Result: floats great!

Test #2
Object: 4 crayons
Result: floats great!

Test #3
Object: Tigger
Result: floats great!

Test #4
Object: little elephant
Result: Hmm... he seems a little heavy for our boat, but he's not totally sinking it.

Test #5
Object: cow
Result: floats great!

Test #6
Object: Airplane
Result: ...

...Too heavy!

After our little boat capsized, the left side of the sail was a little the worse for wear.  Makes me want to try this again with some kind of waterproof sail.  Any ideas?

Which animals go in the water?

Next Olivia tried this little froggy in the boat...

...but soon decided in that since he was a frog, he belongs in the water.

Then the frog was joined by Sebastian the crab.

Drop the animals in the water

Eventually a dinosaur took over the helm and Olivia decided it was time to do some splash tests.

I am happy to report that both the frog and Sebastian tested well.

All in all, she had a grand old time playing sea captain as she drove her little boat around (by hand and by wind/breath), tested its limits, and helped her animals dive in and out of the water.  A simple, fun activity and a definite preschool success!


Find more fun and easy preschool ideas on the Preschool page.  You can also find them by clicking on the Preschool button in the header.  Enjoy!   


Alma Boheme said...

This is a great activity! My toddler loves water play and loves things that float. I was thinking of using the idea of the boat with some corks I have.

Veronica said...

Neat idea! What about parchment paper for the sail? That should be colorable and water-proof; it's mostly grease-proof, right? You could also see whether square, rectangular, circular, or other shapes of tupperware travels best through the water (i.e. is easiest to blow and direct with only wind).