DIY Kids: Making Toy Boats with Found Objects
One day earlier this month when it rained nonstop for three days and our alley turned into a fast-flowing creek, I pictured racing handmade toy boats down the rapids with the kids. This inspired an afternoon craft project – making boats with found objects. Our guidelines would be to use mainly natural materials, plus a few odds and ends from around the house – corks, popsicle sticks, twine, wire, champagne wire hoods, bottle caps, toothpicks, plus scissors and wire cutters.
For a few days on walks, we gathering materials on the ground – big magnolia leaves, bark, twigs, and nuts. We would use wire or twine, but no glue. The challenge was to figure out different boat designs using only the materials at hand.
Nadja and her friend Parisa, along with me and Javaun, Parisa’s dad, had a lot of fun fashioning boat designs. The girls made boats with beautiful masts and sails…
…boats that resembled pontoons.
And a teeny-tiny nut boat for a fairy or sprite.
Javaun and Parisa worked together to weave a miniature raft, an “homage,” said Javaun, “to Huckleberry Finn.”
I made one too.
Javaun said this boat made from two pieces of bark, held together with criss-crossed twine, was his favorite. He said it seemed like “a toy that might have come out of a Pharoah’s tomb.”
These are the champagne hoods turned chair for Playmobile people. Javaun remembered making ziplines with his brother for little contraptions like these, so we may try that out too.
We weren’t sure if our boats would be seaworthy, so that night Nadja and I tested them out in the bathtub. Unfortunately, the tiny nut boats sank, as did the champagne hood boats. But the leaves, cork pontoon boats, and especially the rafts proved especially sturdy and buoyant. They could even carry passengers.
We’ll keep all of the boats handy for our next big spring rain storm, maybe refine our designs, and have more ready to go for a rainy day regatta.