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Boats Afloat

Make boats that can float.  


  • water table(s), large tubs, or plastic wading pool, if outside (limit the number of children at a water table or tub to four or five, or use multiple water tables and/or tubs) 
  • toy boats
  • Styrofoam trays, plastic plates, pieces of Styrofoam
  • plastic containers
  • soda bottles with or without tops
  • straws, craft sticks
  • aluminum foil, cut into six-inch squares
  • masking tape
  • camera/video

Key Science Concepts

  • Objects behave differently in water. Some float; some don’t.
  • If you add enough weight to a floating object, it will sink.


Encourage children to use words related to sinking and floating such as tip, tilt, shape, weight, leak, and waves, along with science process words such as observe, notice, compare, same, different, change, test, and predict.


Tell children that they’ll make boats that can float.

  1. Invite them to use any of the boat-building materials you have supplied.
  2. Encourage them to build several boats of different designs. As they build, ask:
    • What did you use to make your boat? Why did you choose that material?
    • What will you do to make sure your boat doesn’t sink?
  1. Take photos/videos of the floating boats.

Reflect and Share

After they have built their boats, ask them to describe what they like about it. Ask, Tell us about its shape and what it’s made out of. What do you think helps make it float?