Support for PBS Parents provided by:

  • Cat in the Hat
  • Curious George
  • Nature Cat
  • Daniel Tiger
  • Dinosaur Train
  • Odd Squad
  • Peg + Cat
  • Bob the Builder
  • Sid the Science Kid
  • Super Why!
  • Wild Kratts
  • WordGirl
  • Thomas & Friends
  • Arthur
  • Martha Speaks
  • Sesame Street
  • The Electric Company
  • Cyberchase
  • Between the Lions
  • Mama Mirabelle
  • Caillou
  • Chuck Vanderchuck
  • Oh Noah
  • Fetch!
  • Fizzy's Lunch Lab
  • Maya & Miguel
  • Mister Rogers
  • Postcards from Buster
  • Clifford
  • SciGirls
  • Wilson & Ditch
  • WordWorld
  • DragonFly TV
  • ZOOM
Sesame Street

Float Your Boat

Make predictions and use trial and error to engineer a boat that will float.


  • Construction paper
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Fabric
  • Playdough or clay
  • Cork
  • Other household materials (such as sponges, newspaper, and aluminum foil)
  • Tape or glue
  • Large container of water


  1. Talk about the concepts of sinking and floating. Explain to your child that when something sinks, it falls to the bottom and when it floats it stays at the top of the water.
  2. Choose three materials to put together to engineer a boat. Encourage your child to talk about his plan and why he thinks his design will float. What will he put on the top? On the bottom? How will the pieces stay together?
  3. Together, construct the boat.
  4. Make a prediction about what will happen when you place the boat in water.
  5. Place the boat in the container of water and observe what happens. If it floats, talk about why you think your design works. If it sinks, think of ways to redesign your boat and try again!
  6. Then, experiment with different household materials to make more boats. Which materials work well and which ones sink to the bottom?

Talk About It

Discuss with your child what may have caused the boats to sink or float. Talk about how the materials you used may have affected how well the boat stayed afloat. Based on what you learned from your investigation, what types of materials do you think engineers might use to build boats?

Take It Further

On your next trip to the park or zoo find different things in nature that float, like certain animals and plants! Notice how animals such as ducks, seagulls, and otters can float on top of the water. What part of their body helps them to float or swim? Also notice how plants, like lily pads, float too!

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Sesame Workshop logo Sponsor Logos Image Map
© 2009 Sesame Workshop. "Sesame Street" and its logo are trademarks of Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved. The contents of this website were developed under a grant, #PRU295A050003, from the Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.
Beaches logo United HealthCare logo Party City logo CPB logo Dept. of Education logo

What's this?

PBS Parents Picks

  1. Play Learn App

    PBS Parents Play & Learn App

    Get new seasonal backgrounds and fun fall stickers. Plus, more parent tips!

  2. Irrational Behavior image

    What to Keep in Mind About Irrational Behavior

    These incidents can be important opportunities to teach children how to manage emotions. Here's how.

  3. Science Birthday Party image

    Reading Food Labels: A Cheat Sheet

    When food shopping for young children, you only need to pay attention to a few things.

PBS Parents Newsletter

Find activities, parenting tips, games from your child's favorite PBS KIDS programs and more.