pursuing simplicity, creating humbly, loving furiously

Bottle Top Boats

About 2 months ago I made the decision to take a break from “pre-school” and do more directed play that everyone can participate in. It has been a good choice for us.  I got this original idea from the “Family Fun” magazine and just edited it to work a bit smoother and be more educational for us.

Making and racing mini sailboats


  • bottle caps (the big juice ones work the best)
  • toothpicks
  • construction paper and markers
  • tape
  • modeling clay (not play dough) or hot glue
  • tin foil
  • optional: clear contact paper to laminate the sails

Make the sail boats: I drew out the sails and let them decorate them and cut them out and then I taped them to the toothpicks.  After that I hot glued each toothpick to the cap (if you use hot glue be prepared to have to hold them in place for a few minutes to dry).  I would have used clay but all we had was play dough and it wasn’t sticky enough to hold the sails in place.

Make the racing stream: unroll a long strip of tin foil and just roll up each side to make a wall and lay it out on a slightly slopped surface (I would suggest using heavy duty tin foil, but we used regular since that is all we had).  It was windy so i had to lay butter knives along the edge so it didn’t blow away.  Then just turn on your garden hose and start racing.

The kids loved this and raced boats for a long time and then finally just plopped in our stream and played in the water.   This took all afternoon by the time we made everything, set it all up and played.  Thankfully my 2 babies slept for most of that time which made it more enjoyable for the older 2.  We talked about triangles while we made our sails, why the boats with larger circumference went faster then the smaller ones,  what made some float and some sink, different kind of boats and what makes them move, and how exactly sailboats move through wind power.

Other sailboat Ideas to complete the day:

Since this was a last minute project we didn’t have any books about sailboats here.  So I gathered a bunch of books that had boats pictured somewhere in them, scattered them all over the floor and we did a “sailboat hunt” by having the kids see how many sailboats they could find in the pages.  Surprisingly they loved it!

We also watched this book on U Tube .  While it is not about a sailboat it is a cute story about a cat who goes to live in a house boat. (skip the ad beforehand)






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