Friday, April 14, 2017

How you can make a toy boat that really floats

These toy boats really float, and would be perfect for a preschool unit, or high school science experiments in buoyancy.

The other day I wanted a couple of quick, cheap toy boats that would float. We were headed out out to our favorite puddle. Both of my little ones LOVE stomping back and forth through the puddle, and I love that their naps usually happen in a timely manner afterward.  However, our last puddle day had ended with swimming, and it's still a little chilly for that, even here in Alabama. So,to encourage wading in the puddle, I made a quick toy.

These easy to make bottle boats are the perfect toy for Earth day, my preschoolers loved them

When we lived in an apartment and weren't fortunate to own our own puddle, I'd put my children in their bathing suits, and let them play in the bath on rainy days. These boats would work great there too!

I ransacked the recycling bins, and came up with these functional upcycled boats. The longest part of the project was waiting for my hot glue gun to head up. They took about a minute to put together, floated nicely, and were even cute.

How to put together your own toy bottle boats


Two plastic water bottles
Hot glue
Popsicle or craft sticks
Rocks to add a little weight to the bottom of the boats

My preschoolers loved floating these in the puddle in front of our house

  1. Pre-heat your glue gun
  2. Start by cutting one of the bottles in half. You'll make two boats.
  3. Glue the two caps on the end of each half of the bottle
  4. Cut out two sails from the second bottle.
  5. Glue the sails on the craft sticks, and the craft sticks to the bottom end of the boats.

How you can make a toy boat that really floats from a plastic water bottle

When you get to the puddle, add a few rocks for weight.

That's it!

What children learn from playing with toy boats

It's pretty intuitive that kids should play with toy boats and splash in puddles. It builds their gross motor abilities. It satisfies their sensory development. It's just plain fun.

Did you know they're learning science too?

How you can make a toy boat that really floats with just a plastic water bottle

As the boats move around the puddle they are influenced by the breezes and by the currents in the puddle. They float due the buoyant force of the water. Check out my post "Why boats float" for more information.

My girls are just happy that they got to play with their boats. I'm pretty excited about what they're learning- and that they took their naps.

Learn more about Why Boats Float

More toys to make from water bottles

Itsy Bitsy Spider water play

Water guns

Parachute toys

Chaos Theory bottle


  1. My husband and daughter could spend hours playing with homemade boats. Using recycled items is so creative!

    1. I could too! I'd love to see some of their designs.

  2. I love this idea, which is so easy and the little ones learn so much by just doing simple STEM projects like these. Awesome ideas :)

    1. Thank you! Yes, I agree that for the little ones (and often bigger ones) simple is better.


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