This ended up being a really fun activity with not much planning involved.
Rice Paper (or regular paper cut into a square)
Old Play dough
Bowl/Bucket/Sink of Water
This is a good extension of a sink/float activity.
We started by making paper boats using rice paper- Barrett has been really into origami after getting a fun cultural pack from Japan.
Here is a link to some Simple Instructions
We used a wax crayon to "waterproof" the bottom. After a minute or so it sank. That got us (well Bear) thinking- What else can we make a boat out of?
We tried to make one out of play dough:
His sank immediately. We talked about why it sank- it was too heavy.
(note: you play dough will most likely get ruined, sooo... don't use it if you don't want to ruin it)
I recommended maybe using the foil from our sails to make a boat. He tested it by placing a small flat piece of foil in the water.
You can ask what shape the foil should be or provide little hints along the way.
His idea was to make it super flat:
It was actually a pretty good idea- I was surprised!
Finally, if you have a floating object (boat) test it out by seeing how many coins or marbles you can place in without it sinking!
We found that if it was evenly dispersed we could hold a lot more coins than if we dropped them all at once.
Soak (the paper soaked up the water)
Make a boat from natural materials- like straw or sticks. Use the computer to find what different cultures use to make different types of boats.
After posting up our activity I found a really great resource here:
(it will show up as a pdf download)
Don't be afraid to let them try and experiment even if you know it will fail miserably- There is no better way to learn!