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Boat Making Challenge- the perfect rainy day activity for kids!



We discovered an AWESOME rainy day activity for kids!


A RAINY DAY ACTIVITY FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!

Whether you hear those big drops clatter on your roof in California, Missouri, Florida or Massachusetts, one thing is for certain: parents are always desperate for rainy day activities for kids. I know I am. We are a family of 5 living in a 1,000 square foot living space so our small-living family can start to feel pretty crowded on those rainy day.


We had a BLAST today for hours, doing a very fun creative rainy day project.

Of course it’s super easy to fall back on screen time (and no judgement if you are having a “pull your hair out” kind of day and are too tired to find fun projects for your kids. We have all been there!) but we had a BLAST today for hours, doing a very fun creative rainy day project. I have 3 kids, a toddler, a 9 year old and a tween and this creative project kept them all engaged.


We did…


A BOAT MAKING CHALLENGE! ⛵️☔️🎨

This is such a fun, rainy day activity for kids young and younger! Looking for a rainy day activity for toddlers? My little guy had a blast helping with our boat making! A rainy activity for kids in elementary and middle school? This boat making craft will float all their boats (sorry, I couldn't help making that pun 🫢.)!


fun rainy day activity for kids and rainy day activity for toddlers is a boat building craft
Boat building is a fun rainy day activity for toddlers as well as big kids!

All you need are some basic crafting supplies from your creative pantry, sundry recyclables, a puddle of water, and some good old-fashioned creativity. Of course, even if it isn’t a rainy day, you can still do this super fun steam activity using a big bowl full of water.


Looking for a rainy day activity for toddlers? My little guy had a blast helping with our boat making!

Today however, we happened to be looking for an outdoor rainy day activity. Everyone was getting cabin fever- especially our two year old. As everyone knows, when toddlers start to feel pent up things can go haywire pretty quickly, so some fresh air was a must do.


Here’s a list of all the supplies we gathered for this project.


SUPPLY LIST 🎨

In our creative pantry

-tape

-hot glue

-pipe cleaners

-card stock

-sharpie fine tip marker

-scissors (righty and lefty)


Household items

-tea light candles

-Aluminum foil

-a lighter (used with supervision of course)

-saran wrap

-egg carton

-cereal box



We used the common household items, scissors and wax paper among other things, to complete our rainy day activity, a boat musing craft
Some of the supplies we used for our rainy day, boat making activity.

IF YOU ARE SHORT ON SUPPLIES...

Even if you don’t have all of these craft supplies in your home, I can almost guarantee that you have what you need to make a boat. All you need to do is take a few minutes to brainstorm some boat making ideas by focusing on what objects in your home might float.

An empty plastic cup for example! Or a piece of cardboard taped on top of two spoon!


Anyone who has made origami knows that boat making with paper is a thing, although perhaps not super durable. All you need is something that floats, which you can easily test in the bath or a large bowl of water.



Testing common household items, to see if they will float in our boat making for kids craft
It is so easy to test different household objects to see if they will float. This is a great steam activity!

IS THAT A CHALLENGE?! ⛵️

My kids and I also decided a few things ahead of time. We didn’t want it to be a boat making contest but rather a boat making challenge. The goal was to learn as a group which features made the boats most successful versus pitting ourselves against one another. We do competitions sometimes but the kids and I decided that we wanted a more laidback version.


COMPETITION CAN IMPACT CREATIVITY 🎨

For me personally, as an artist, I’m always thinking about how competition helps creativity and how, sometimes, it can just get in the way. One of my kiddos is very competitive by nature and I wanted to make sure that their drive to win didn’t get in the way of them thinking deeply through the challenge at hand, so I suggested a challenge instead and they happily agreed.


We did not want it to be a boat making contest but rather a boat making challenge. We do competitions sometimes but the kids and I decided that we wanted a more laidback version.

BOAT MAKING CHALLENGE GOALS ⛵️

Then my kids thought it would be useful to come up with some goals so that, once our boats were built, we could assess how they did. I thought this was a great idea! We brainstormed for a few minutes and came up with this list:




We further refined that list to this:


LIST OF BOAT MAKING GOALS ⛵️

  • How does it float?

  • How evenly does it float? No listing for example.

  • Does it move?

  • Can it hold cargo?


FOR THE KINETIC LEARNERS

This list seemed pretty good but there was something missing. I have quite the mix of learning styles and personalities in my family of 5 and the experienced art teacher within me was giving me a nudge. I realized that the kinetic learner in my family (in our case, the 9 year old lil dude!) might not have his curiosity fully activated by this list. So we threw in another feature that we wanted our boats to have:


  • Battle readiness.


I’m a huge lover of the peaceful life but I’m also pretty into military history. While I am interested in instilling my kids with a passion for building peaceful societies, the study of war is not just an important part of understanding human history. It’s also just about the best way to understand what a huge impact thoughtful allocation of resources can have.



For our rainy day activity for toddlers and rainy day activity for kids, we did a boat making craft for kids.
Our table got pretty messy with all of our rainy day boat making supplies!

I was quite into “battle readiness” as a category because 1) it would give us the chance to  organically dive into naval history if we wanted to (which, let’s be honest, is a HUGE part of maritime history AND of ship building) and 2) would give us the perfect opportunity to throw rocks at our boats and see how they would fare!


I have learned over many years of hanging out with kid of all temperaments that throwing rocks is a universally cherished activity. It is one that I observe readily, as long as no one or no cherished things are harmed in the process.


AI image of a child enjoying time in the rain; included in blog post about boat making kids craft, which is a fun rainy day activity for toddlers and a fun rainy day activity for kids.
Playing in the rain is the best! We were so excited to find this fun rainy day activity.

We then realized that the same qualities that would help a boat fare well in battle are probably similar to the qualities that would help a boat withstand rough weather or accidental collisions. So we decided to change "battle readiness to":


  • Sturdiness


CHOOSE YOUR TESTING GROUND ⛵️

Last but not least we thought it would be fun to test our boats in the rainy season pond across the street from our home. There are a few prime spots where the ground is depressed and a small pond always forms when the rainy days come, so we knew we’d have an excellent testing ground for our homemade boats. It’s probably not the cleanest water around but we are living urban and we do not own land. It has always been important to me to get my kids outside, to encourage them to use what their environment provides and to practice creativity wherever possible. Our rainy season pond across the street definitely fits that bill!




BUILDING OUR BOATS ⛵️

After making all of these important decisions, we put our materials out on the table and got to work building boats. We had to think through what shapes we thought would do well and which materials would work best. In the end we came up with 4 different boats. They were:


OUR BOATS ⛵️

TINY BOAT

  • Made from a single cup from a cardboard egg carton, that we covered with the melted wax from two birthday candles (I handled the wax melting).

  • We also put a pipe cleaner mast in the middle with a little flag tapes onto it. It took us a minute to decide how to attach the mast to the boat. In the end we decided to twist the bottom of the pipe cleaner into a small loop and then hot glue the loop to the inside floor of the egg cup.


Boat made out of household materials that we created for our rainy day activity for kids and rainy day activity for toddlers, our boat making challenge.
How cute is "Tiny Boat"?! Made using an egg carton cup covered in melted birthday candle wax.


CRANE BOAT

  • An origami homemade boat with a toilet paper roll on the bottom (the cylinder reminded us of a pontoon).

  • We also attached a sail made out of toothpicks and Saran Wrap.

  • Then, for the back, we attached an empty scotch tape canister with a small plastic cup and tea light on top of it.

  • We planned to light the tea light candle because it would look pretty.

  • Normally in California we would never mess around with candles out in the open but it was very wet outside and had been raining for days so we left the option open to ourselves, depending on how conditions looked once we were outside.


Boat made out of household materials that we created for our rainy day activity for kids and rainy day activity for toddlers, our boat making challenge.
"Crane Boat" was inspired by origami boat patterns.

BEST BOAT

  • This homemade boat was made from two cups that we cut from a cardboard egg carton and covered with aluminum foil.

  • We placed that contraption on top of a raft of wax paper.

  • We hoped that the wax paper and aluminum foil would help the egg carton stay water resistant.

  • Then, we created a mast with a wooden skewer cracked in half, and a boxy sail from the bottom of a small Kraft lunch bag.


Boat made out of household materials that we created for our rainy day activity for kids and rainy day activity for toddlers, our boat making challenge.
Here is "Best Boat". You can guess which boat was made by my kiddo with a healthy competitive streak!


TIN CUP

  • We pulled four tea light candles out of their aluminum cups and used those as pontoons.

  • We also made a long box out of orange cardstock, using our hot glue gun, which we placed on top of the tea lights.

  • We added a few portholes and a mast with a decorate flag, and were ready to go!


Boat made out of household materials that we created for our rainy day activity for kids and rainy day activity for toddlers, our boat making challenge.
"Tin Cup" was glued on top of tea candle tins.

GET YOUR BOAT MAKING CHALLENGE CHECKLIST!

The test was a lot of fun and we definitely learned a lot about what makes boats work well! Those observations will be for an upcoming post. In the meantime, please take advantage of the soggy weather by downloading our Boat Making Challenge Checklist and get rolling on your own designs!


Remember, in creative families are no bad ideas! There is only creativity, learning, and pride in making something brand spanking new that wasn’t there before. We had a blast making our rainy day, homemade boats. I hope your family feels inspired to embark on your own Boat Making Challenge. After you have downloaded your checklist and created your own designs, please tag me on Instagram so I can check them out. I can’t wait to see what you do!


⛵️☔️🎨 DOWNLOAD MY BOAT MAKING CHALLENGE CHECKLIST! ⛵️☔️🎨


See you at the drawing board!


Xoxo

Emma





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