a design, counting and water challenge for the summerCamp PBS Parents

Ready the Reveille, Camp PBS Parents is here!

What’s Camp PBS Parents? All summer long the PBS Parents team will bring you ideas for boredom busting fun and hands-on learning to stop that pesky summer slide.

I’m excited to kick off Camp PBS Parents with an activity that combines design, counting, water play: Penny Boats!

For centuries, humans have relied on boats to carry our precious cargo. This summer, let the kids design their own boats to see how much treasure it can hold.

You’ll Need:

  • Roll of aluminum foil
  • Pennies
  • Bucket or tub of water
  • Paper and pencil
make penny boats this summer

Step 1

Plan: Draw a picture of how you’d like your boat to look.

Step 2

Design: Use a length of aluminum foil to create boat. Don’t forget to name it!

Step 3

Test: Is she seaworthy? Place a penny in the boat. Still afloat? Add another. Keep adding. Make sure you keep count of how much it can hold before it sinks.


Looking for ways to extend this activity?

    • Get older kids started by having them do a little research about different kinds of boats.
    • Have kids draw a design for their boat before they get started. What types of qualities should their boat possess?
    • After the boat sinks, go back to the drawing board. See if you can design a boat that holds even more cargo!
    • Turn this into a money math activity by having kids place different coins in the boat. Have kids calculate how much their boat is worth (ie. how much is in it) before it sinks.
    • Turn it into a challenge by offering everyone the same length of foil. Or, you can do trials with different amounts of foil. Does the amount of foil change how much the ship can hold?

More Adventures in Learning

About Jennifer Cooper

Jennifer Cooper

Jennifer Cooper is the blogger behind Classic-Play.com, an online resource for creative families.  Her favorite past times include: dancing around her living room, watching the Pink Panther with her kids and daydreaming. She lives in Baltimore, MD with her husband, photographer Dave Cooper, and two children. 

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