Friday, May 6, 2011

Early Childhood Fun: Float Your Boat!

Where I live, there are sidewalks and curbs lining the streets, making a great channel for water to float or race a boat on a particularly rainy day! If you have somewhere to float a boat, gather some materials together and make one! To make a "boat", all you need is a small piece of wood, like a piece left over from a house project or lightweight shims that you can find at a hardware store. If you don’t have access to wood, a container that is shallow with a flat bottom, such as a small tray from a frozen meal or a plastic bowl or lid would work fine! Look through your recyclables and get inspired :)
Whatever materials you decide to use, put together an “activity box,” including paint, stickers, foil, tape, cardboard and anything else you think might work! If you want to, include natural materials like small sticks or large leaves or pods for interest. Let the children create, going over some basic sink and float information while you “play!” (I needed some sandpaper to sand my wood a little, to avoid splinters! Then, markers or paint and a few stickers - and my boat was ready to try out!)

Have a larger shallow container ready with an inch or two of water to test the boats’ seaworthiness periodically! Sticky tape, such as the clear packing type, can seal areas that might not be otherwise waterproof – and, remember - sometimes, the simplest designs are the best at floating! (We found that a plastic lid from a food container made a great raft, like those in a water park - we imagined riding down the "river" in that!)

When you are ready, make sure there are no traffic hazards for your children, and get out in the rain! You might want to try to race boats made of different materials or try boats on different streets that have more or less incline (see if they go faster or slower!)  Brainstorm to come up with ideas that will prove/disprove different theories – scientists in the making!
Try adding some ballast to your boats and see what happens! We added plastic bags of coins and washers – maybe you have a favorite toy figure who would like to go for a ride?
Have fun!


  1. I don't think there is much that is more fun than playing in the rain - well maybe playing in the mud :)

    We made boats from watermelon skins once. Little guy loved it.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

  2. Hi Rory, just wanted to let you know that the Outdoor Play linky party will be back up and running again starting tomorrow (Friday). Would love to see you back sharing more great ideas for playing outdoors!