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Invite your children to finger-paint blue ocean waves on a large piece of paper. Allow the paint to dry. Give the children boat shapes cut from different colors of construction paper to decorate with crayons or markers. Then hang the wave mural on a wall and help the children glue or tape on their decorated boats.

Set out a variety of materials for "boat building," such as paper and plastic plates, small plastic tubs, paper, cardboard, plastic-foam food trays, cardboard tubes, paper cups, and pieces of wood. Include plastic straws and paper squares for making masts and sails, and provide tape, glue, string, and yarn. Let your children experiment with using the materials to make boats. When they have finished, encourage them to float their creations in water. Which materials made the best boats? Why?


Cut simple boat shapes and sail shapes out of different colors of felt. Use the shapes to play the following flannel board games with your children.
Place the boats on the board and add a matching colored sail to each one.
Give directions such as these: "Put the blue sail on the red boat. Put the green sail on the yellow boat."
Ask such questions as, "Can you line up a red boat, a blue boat, and a yellow boat? An orange boat, a purple boat, and a green boat?"

Set out an assortment of objects, such as a sponge, a leaf, a cork, a metal spoon, a rock, and a bar of soap. Have your children predict if the objects will float or sink before placing the objects in water.
Float a plastic-foam food tray "boat" in water and let your children add such items as bottle caps or small rocks for cargo. How much cargo can the boat hold before it capsizes?
Let the children experiment with fashioning aluminum foil into various shapes. Have them place their shapes in water to see which are best for floating.

Find a large cardboard carton, such as an appliance carton. Secure both ends closed. Then turn the carton into a "boat" by placing it on one side and cutting out a large hole in the top side. Let your children decorate the boat as desired and use it for dramatic play. What might they use for a pretend sail? For oars? For a motor?

Talk with your children about various kinds of boats, such as sailboats, motorboats, tugboats, tankers, barges, rowboats, and canoes. Then call out the boat names, one at a time, and have the children act out their movements.

Tune: "Jingle Bells"

Motorboat, motorboat,
Going round the bay.
Motorboat, oh, motorboat,
This is what you say,
Putt-putt-putt, putt-putt-putt,
Putt-putt all the way.
Motorboat, oh, motorboat,
You putt-putt-putt all day!
Liz Ryerson
Let your children "putt-putt" around the room as you sing.

For each of your children, make a small paper sail and thread it onto a toothpick "mast."
Stick the mast into one of the foods below to create a "sailboat."
Deviled egg half
Banana section
Peach half
Apple wedge