Peeps Sailboats

How many Peeps did your kids (or maybe, you?) inhale over Easter?  Don’t eat them all!  Set up a little water science activity with some of the Peeps! Your dentist will thank me for this!  Just some simple supplies from around the house is all you need to keep your littles one sugar-free, occupied and sticky.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Peeps
  • Bin of water
  • Scissors
  • Different materials for sails (We used: felt, foam, construction paper and cardstock)
  • Toothpicks
  • Tape


Cut out triangle shaped sails out of the different materials.  My older superheroes were able to do this on their own, but for the tots in my class, I cut them ahead of time.

Attach a sail to the toothpick with the tape.


Place the sail into a Peep and repeat with the different materials. IMG_1315 We ended up with 4 Peeps sailboats, each with a different type of sail.IMG_1317

Now it’s time to test the different sails by placing them in the water.  We used small bins, but it would be fun to do in a water table or a small plastic wading pool.

They started blowing on the sails to see how they move


Some tipped over, others moved quickly, and one barely moved.


They raced with each other.


Eventually, they started playing with them and ended up all sticky!IMG_1327

We also noticed that the combination of blue and yellow Peeps in the water turned it green!

The science behind the activity:

There is plenty of room for experimentation with this activity

  • Which of the materials make the best sails?
  • Which spot is the best place to insert the sail?  Do some spots make the boat tip over easier than others?
  • How does the wind affect the movement of the boat?
  • Why do the Peeps float?
  • Might different shapes of sails affect the movement of the boat?
  • Try different types of Peeps (Bunnies vs. Chicks)  How do the different shapes of the Peeps affect their movement and the placement of the sails?

In a larger container of water, races are fun and a discussion of which boats floated the farthest or fastest involves plenty of critical thinking.

For more details and to see where I got my Peep-y idea from, please visit:

Check out my other science activity using Peeps: Dissolving Peeps Experiment

Mayflower Boats

Here’s a super easy craft that you can make with your kids that also allows for some science exploration.  I call these Mayflower Boats because we made them during Thanksgiving, but really you could adapt this for anytime of the year.  There are SO many ways you can use these little boats and so much learning to be had.  I had a chance to do this with my son’s class and the kids had a BLAST!  So grab a few supplies and let the kids busy themselves while you get some of that Thanksgiving cooking done!

Materials Needed per boat:

  • 2-3 wine corks  (If you are a parent, I’m SURE you can easily go through a bottle or 2 of wine on those “trying” days!)
  • 1 rubber band
  • coffee stirrer, wooden skewer, or craft stick
  • paper, cardstock or foam sheet to make the sails
  • scissors
  • glue
  • Straw
  • Bin with water (we added blue water color for fun)


To make the Boat:

Place a rubber band around 2 to 3 pieces of cork to make the base of the raft.


Using white paper, card stock or foam sheets, cut out sails to make it look like the Mayflower (for Thanksgiving) or any shape you want at other times of the year.  Attach them to the mast with glue.  Allow the glue to dry.

IMG_4103 IMG_4105

Add a a craft stick or coffee stirrer to create the mast.  We just tucked ours in between 2 pieces of cork but you could certainly use a wooden skewer to stick it into the cork to make it more secure.


Voila! There’s your little Mayflower boat.  Now it’s time for some science exploration!


To explore with the boats:

We talked briefly about the pilgrims who journeyed across the ocean from England to America on the Mayflower.  I told them that our boats represented the Mayflower and the Bin with water represented the ocean that they traveled across. (You can totally omit this for a non-Thanksgiving lesson)

I then gave each child their own bin with blue water (yes, I added blue watercolor because colors make everything more fun!) and had them place their boats in and explore.


Immediately the kids used their hands to make waves, dropped their boats from up high and watch them splash in the water and still float.  Some noticed that their boats floated upside down.


Then I gave them straws to blow on the sails to make the boats move.  What i didn’t anticipate (and I obviously should have) was that the kids put the straws in the water and started blowing bubbles because “bubbles make waves happen”, according to one little guy.


Oh the storms and waves and hurricanes that they created.  And loads of splashing and giggling.


Since we are in the middle of a sever drought in California, we weren’t able to use water and rain gutters to do races and explore the effect of an incline on the speed of the boats.  But that would be a fantastic extension for this activity!

You could also have the kids race their boats across a large tub of water, in the bathtub or in a small wading pool.  Again, due to our drought, none of these were possible for the class.


Science behind the activity and Extensions:

This activity is great for investigating and exploring. “What happens if I…?” is the best part of this activity.  By blowing on the sails, the kids can see how the wind can “push” a boat along.  For older kids, you can certainly introduce Newton’s Laws of motion to explain how the boat moves.  You can even introduce simple weather concepts and see how they affect the movement of the boat from a windstorm to waves to whirpools, etc… There are so many extensions for this activity.  Encourage your kids to test out different materials for the boat (craft sticks, styrofoam, plastic cups, clay, etc…) or different materials for the sails (paper, foam, felt, etc…).

For more details and to see where I got my ideas from click on the 2 links below.  I merged the 2 activities together to create this one.

For another fun boat activity, check out What Floats Your Boat? on my Density/Floating page.



What Floats Your Boat?

What kid doesn’t like to play with water?  Add a bit of science and math to your water play next time with this easy experiment to set up at home.  I used to to this same experiment with my middle schoolers in the classroom to demonstrate concepts in buoyancy but for the little ones, it is just fun!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • small bin or deep dish for water or even your water table!
  • water (I added some blue color for fun)
  • Foil
  • pennies or small rocks


Add some water to the bin.  My kids love colored water so we added a drop to simulate ocean water.

The tricky part is making the foil boat.  Younger kids might have trouble with this and might tear their boats.  Feel free to help them. Ours looked like bowls.


Place the foil boat in the water and make sure it floats and doesn’t have any leaks.


Next, we added pennies, one by one, to the boat.


You will be amazed at how many pennies this little foil boat can hold!


And then there was one penny to many… and the boat finally sank!


Lastly, they colored in their lab sheet and had to write the number of pennies their boat held before sinking.  There you go!  Math, science, coloring and some healthy sibling competition:)

Extensions for older kids: Compare what happens to 2 identical pieces of foil when placed in water: one in the shape of a boat and one wadded up super tight to minimize the amount of air trapped inside.  Why do you think this is possible?  Also, try this experiment with salt water.  Predict what effect salt water would have on the boat’s ability to carry cargo.

The Science behind the Activity:

When doing this experiment with older kids, I discuss the concept of buoyancy, which is the ability of an object to float when placed in a fluid.  Surface area greatly affects the buoyancy of an object.  The larger surface area allows the force (weight of the cargo/pennies) to be spread out over a larger area, thus allowing the boat to float even with the “cargo”. The larger surface area displaces more water.  This is why a large hull in a ship is able to float on water.  And if the ship is floating on salt water (like the ocean) it can carry even more cargo since salt water is denser than pure water.  It’s a bit more complicated than my simplified explanation, but hopefully you get the point.  And for the little ones, it’s just fun to sink the boats:)

For a more detailed explanation click on this link: