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Classic Play Idea: Tin Foil Boat Float

Mar 29, 2017

You know those activities you grew up doing in school and still enjoy doing with your kids today? Those true classics? Well many of those classics appear on my list of absolute favourite activities to do with kids and for good reason. Most of the time they require minimal materials, they are incredibly easy to pull together and pack all sorts of punch in the fun and educational categories. No wonder they’re classics, right? 

Tin foil boat floats are just that — easy, super engaging, educational and a true classic.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • tin foil cut into 5 or 6-inch squares
  • a small bin or large bowl filled with water
  • pennies (or other coins)

A tub full of water, a bowl of pennies and a piece of tin foil.

First off, give your child a tin foil square and invite her to create a boat. Explain to her that it can be any kind of boat, with the goal that it will float when placed on the water and will hopefully be able to hold some pennies.

Girl makes a boat using tin foil.

When the boat (or in this case, triangular raft) is complete, have your little one gently place it on the water. If it floats — hooray!  If it doesn’t, no worries — just encourage your child to go back and make some design changes until it does. With a floating boat, it’s now time to carefully begin placing pennies on or inside the vessel.  We like to count these as we go but you can also count them afterwards. Continue adding and counting until the boat can no longer hold the load and sinks. 

Alright! Time rescue your sunken boat and pennies and discuss how it did. First off, how many pennies was it able to hold? What was good about its design? What would you add or change next time? Did the placement of the pennies affect its performance?

Girl take close look at floating tin foil boat with four pennies aboard.

Keeping those factors in mind, it’s time to build and test boat number two! Put it to the test by floating and filling it up with pennies; then reflect on its performance once it sinks just like you did last time.

Girl rebuilding tin foil boat.

Continue this process until you run out of foil or create a boat that exceeds your expectations in terms of how many pennies it can hold.

A successful floating tin foil boat with lots of pennies!

Now don’t forget to remember your record for the next time you build tin foil boats!

Article Author Jen Kossowan
Jen Kossowan

See all of Jen's posts.

Jen is a teacher, blogger, and mama to a spirited little lady and a preemie baby boy. She's passionate about play, loves a good DIY project, adores travelling, and can often be found in the kitchen creating recipes that meet her crunchy mama criteria. You can follow Jen on her blog, Mama.Papa.Bubba, and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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