MissMerFaery is a published author, online writer and home educating, work-at-home mum of two.
DIY Sailboat From a Plastic Bottle
Here's a super easy craft to make with your toddler or preschooler: make a bottle boat that really sails on the water, so they get to have lots of fun with it afterward!
This simple step-by-step tutorial shows you how to make a sailboat from recycled household materials, and explains how to make it so that it floats on the water.
We love making these and recently made one at Pud's forest school, where they also got to make a clay figure to sail their boat as well. The forest was recently flooded so they had fun floating their sailboats on a "lake" amidst the trees afterward!
Once you've made your boat, you could also make a sailor to sit inside—either from clay, play dough, natural materials or whatever you have to hand (a favourite toy works just as well too, of course!).
Materials, Tools, and General Info
Time Required: 15-20 minutes
- Empty 500 ml (0.5 liter) plastic bottle with lid
- Garden stick or a plastic straw
- A5 or similar sized piece of paper
- Some small stones or gravel
- Pens and pencils
- Screwdriver or similar tool to make a hole in the plastic
Step 1. Take your plastic bottle and remove the label. Using sharp scissors, cut a rectangular hole in the bottle (this bit is for the adults!)
Step 2. Make sure you cut more at the base of the bottle and leave more of the plastic at the top. As you can see in the photo of the finished boat, you need to leave space for your mast hole.
Step 3. Your little one can now design their own sail. This was a quick pirate one we made at forest school, but your child can make theirs as detailed and colourful as they like!
Step 4. When the sail is finished, take your garden stick (or straw) and make two holes in the sail at the top and bottom, so that you can push the stick through to make your mast.
Step 5. Another bit for the grown-ups now: Using a screwdriver or similar tool, push it through the plastic area you left between the bottle top and your rectangular opening to make a hole, and then push your mast and sail into it.
Step 6. Finally, fill your boat with a small number of tiny stones or bits of gravel. This will keep the boat upright and stop it from spinning in the water. Don't use too much, though, or it will sink!
Step 7. If your child wants to add any more decoration, let them be creative! They can also make a clay figure or pop in a toy to "captain" the boat! Here's Pud with her forest school creation, getting ready to sail it on the pond.
Step 8. Take your boat outside (or to the bath!) and see if it floats! Have fun sailing it and see how far it will go. Lots of fun to be had with your kids here. Is it windy out? Does the wind help the boat go faster?
You could also make several boats (or make them in a group like we did) and have a race!
© 2014 Missmerfaery444
Want to make a bottle boat? Share your feedback!
Aungkyawphyo on February 18, 2018:
I also would like to make like that. So, Could I join in your network
marsha32 on April 26, 2014:
a cute idea and lots of fun too
Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on March 25, 2014:
What a really awesome idea and craft for kids!
Missmerfaery444 (author) on March 22, 2014:
@Wednesday-Elf: They sure do - they couldn't wait to put them in the water when they were finished! :) Thank you!
Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on March 22, 2014:
What a cute idea. Besides being a great way to recycle/reuse, kids love things that float on water (or just playing in water...LOL). You are a clever crafter.