Recycled Box Boat

recycledboat This simple activity is a perfect craft idea for Earth Day since it uses recycled materials, and it also makes a neat water play toy!


  • To teach children how to recycle common household items from "trash" into "treasure"
  • For children to have fun creating their own unique play toy
  • To reinforce or introduce concept of floating if you have a water play area

Before You Start:

Have children collect clean, empty juice boxes from home for this activity. (The teacher may want to bring some boxes also for those who do not have their own.) Poke a small hole (the size of the diameter of the straws you will use for this activity) into one side of each box. Teachers may want to make a triangle-shaped template to use for the “sails” (about 2-4" tall) on sheets of heavyweight construction paper ahead of time, or have the children make them; you’ll need one for each boat. Provide a variety of colors of Colorations® construction paper and straight plastic straws. Set out Colorations® crayons, markers, stickers, and other light-weight decorative items to decorate the boat boxes.

Let's Get Started! Step 1. Have the children lay the juice boxes on their side with the hole facing up. Demonstrate how to insert the straw into the hole as the mast for the boat.

Step 2. Help the children cut out their triangle "sails" and color or decorate them any way they like.

Step 3. Help the children punch a small hole at the top and bottom of their triangles. Show them how to thread their sail onto the straws.

Step 4. Have the children decorate their boat bases any way they like. Encourage them to experiment with different colors and designs, reminding them that the bottom of the boat may be in the water.

Step 5. Now each child has a unique toy to use at play time in "pretend" or real water and it’s made from recycled materials.

Furthermore: Talk to children about ways they could recycle other materials at home to help the environment. Consider expanding this into a science lesson and having the children collect other household items to take turns guessing and then seeing which ones will float in water and which ones will sink.

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