Pirate Boat Builders

We’ve spent a lot of time the past two weeks learning about the Pilgrims and their journey to America on the Mayflower.  Today they tackled building a boat that could float and hold all its cargo!


Marshmallows were the pilgrims.


Tootsie rolls represented the livestock that traveled on the Mayflower.


The Pilgrim’s cargo was represented by ten pennies & the tub of water was the Atlantic Ocean.


First we talked a lot about what makes a boat float, how they could use the materials to make it float once they realized that clay sinks, and about how to make all their cargo fit on their boat without sinking. Then the crew got into groups to make their plans.  After that they were ready to build, test, redesign, and test again.

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They could make a clay boat that floated…. for a little while that is!IMG_0051 IMG_0052

They did so much talking to each other to brainstorm new ways to build if their original plan wasn’t working.IMG_0054

This group had an awesome boat that floated until cargo loading time!


Time was up and no one successfully build the clay boat that could hold all the cargo. They did successfully learn A LOT in the process and decided the clay was too heavy and they needed something lighter.  I remembered I had tin foil in the cabinet so I let them try the boat again and “Ta da” some of the groups could make their boat hold all their cargo.


Even with foil it took some practice tests to keep their boat floating with all that cargo.

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I loved their cheers today.  The crew then reflected on their learning.  I think they’ll definitely be up for a clay boat building challenge again with new ideas and insight.  We talked about how much this activity was like the Pilgrims who learned by building things, testing them, redesigning, and testing again.  At home, let your little pirate explore as well.  You might find them digging in kitchen drawers and cabinets for supplies but they learn SO much by trying it out themselves…. just remember to let them clean up the mess so they learn to do that as well! 🙂

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