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Virtual Kids Club: Winter 2021


Anchors Aweigh!

The Challenge: Can you design and create a boat using sponges, building blocks, juice boxes and other materials from around your house that is capable of staying afloat in water?

Materials and Equipment


  • paper
  • scissors
  • tape
  • glue
  • building blocks
  • kitchen sponges
  • empty juice boxes
  • wooden skewers
  • craft sticks
  • straws
  • markers
  • crayons
  • coloring pencils
  • baking dish
  • sink
  • bathtub
  • towels
  • pennies
  • fan


Even though it's winter outside, it's fun to start dreaming about summer and the good weather ahead. That means boat season!

  • Gather available materials around your home for your boats. Think outside of the box! Re-use materials you might normally put in the recycling or trash bin.
  • Determine if you need tape or glue, or anything else to keep your sail attached to your boat, and get these items ready for the building phase.
  • Before you start building, sketch out a design for your boat on a piece of paper. Remember to keep in mind the size, shape, weight, and other properties of the materials you will be building your boat with. Once you are happy with your design, it's time to put your plan into action and start building!


These are some examples of boats you can make, but feel free to alter or make these designs your own with the materials you have available:

Sponge Boats

Look around the house for a sponge and a straw, craft stick, or wooden skewer. If you don't have any of these, you can look outside for a thin stick or twig. Make a sail out of paper, and feel free to color or decorate it. Make two small cuts, one at the top and one at the bottom on your sail, and thread it on the stick/skewer/straw. Secure with tape if necessary. Next, poke your sail and mast into the center of the sponge (make sure not to go all the way through the sponge!) You may need to make a small cut in your sponge for the mast. 


Juice Box Boat

Take an empty juice box and and find something to make your mast out of (straw, craft stick, wooden skewer, etc.) Cover the straw hole of your juice box with a piece of tape to prevent water from entering it. Make a sail out of paper, and feel free to color or decorate it. Attach your sail to your mast with tape. Poke your mast through the top center of your juice box, making sure to not puncture through the bottom of the box. You may need to make a small hole with scissors in the juice box first. Color and decorate your juice box boat with markers.


Building Block Boat


Make a flat base with building blocks, or use a small base plate. Building tip: Use less blocks to keep your boat light in weight, which will help it to float better. You can make a sail with paper and attach it to your building block boat with the mast of your choice (stick, wooden skewer, straw, etc.) Don't forget to add a mini figure passenger!

Boat Testing Challenges

After you've built a boat (or boats), it's time to put it to the test! Here are some ideas for challenges to test out your boats, but feel free to come up with additional tests as well.

Floating Challenge


Fill a baking dish, a sink, or a bathtub with water. Gently place your boat in the water and see if it sinks or swims! Keep a towel handy to clean up any spills or splashes.


Weight Challenge


Once you've built and tested a boat that can float, test it to see how much weight it can carry. Stack pennies one at a time on your boat, until it capsizes or sinks. How many pennies is your record?


Distance Challenge

Once you've built and tested a boat that can float, test it to see how far it can travel when blown with wind from a table fan. Experiment with different sail designs and see which one helps your boat go the distance! Use a ruler to keep track how far your boat travels.

Questions to Think About Afterwards

  • What supplies did you use for your boat? Which ones worked better?
  • What did you change or alter on your boat after testing? Why?
  • What kind of boats have you seen in real life?


Float on with a good book from our booklist for elementary school students.

Explore More!

Explore more about the Boat Challenge through these links to outside resources:

Virtual Show and Tell