September 21, 2011

Make a Homemade Paddleboat

Tokyo had a big typhoon today, so we came home early from school and work. My four-year-old and I watched a TV segment about how to make a paddleboat with recycled materials and just had to try it ourselves. Here's the way to make your own paddleboat if you want to try it at home.

  • Styrofoam tray
  • A pair of chopsticks (pencils or craft sticks would work too)
  • A milk carton or something similar
  • Electrical tape (Scotch tape doesn't hold up well in water)
  • A rubber band

  • Tape the chopsticks to the sides of the tray. We found that wrapping the tape all the way around the tray prevented the chopsticks from falling off when the rubber band was wound up.
  • Cut a rectangular piece from the milk carton for a paddle. Experiment to find the best size.
  • Tape the paddle to the rubber band and stretch the rubber band across the chopsticks.

  • Accessorize with Lego if you feel the urge.
  • Wind up the rubber band paddle, place your boat in some water, and enjoy! The video below is our paddleboat plying the waters of our bathtub.

You can use this paddleboat project to explore the ideas of potential and kinetic energy, or actions and reactions. Today we just had fun sending our boat back and forth across the bathtub. I'm just going to say that the physics lessons were learned intuitively.

Question: What's a rainy day activity that you enjoy? Please share in the comments.


  1. Ooooh PERFECT! This is what should be part of ANY childhood! I love love love!! my son will love it!

    Thank you for liking to Kids Get Crafty!


  2. Hi Maggy,

    Glad you like the boat. I'd love to hear back after you and your son build one. I'm sure you'll come up with some crafty customizations.