Make a simple sponge boat for a fun water play activity and craft for kids. They are perfect for hot Summer days or even just for bath time play. My girls loved playing with these outdoors, even though the day we made them was cold and grey.
Sometimes it’s fun to revisit a classic. I created these sponge boats back in 2013 when my kids were preschoolers as a DIY toy for their bath time (but they could not wait until bath time and wanted to play with them immediately outside!).
Older kids could make these sponge boats themselves as a STEM craft, and then experiment with floating them on the water by creating wind with straws and having races, or by placing a small toy on them to see if it still floats. We have also made a balloon-powered sponge boat which is great fun for older kids too.
The sails on our sponge boats are made from duct tape – and there are so many bright colours and patterns you can get with duct tape that you could really go crazy with them. Using what I had in the cupboard at the time ours are plain red, white and green stripes.
The good thing about duct tape sails is that when the boat inevitably overturns or the sponge gets waterlogged and sinks they are waterproof. When this happens just pull the boat out of the water, squeeze the sponge out and pop the sail back in.
How to make sponge boats with duct tape sails
You will need:
• Kitchen scourer sponges (or an ordinary thick sponge would also work)
• Craft sticks
• Duct tape in different colours
• Craft knife and cutting mat – note only an adult should use the craft knife
- Cut the tip of your kitchen scourer into a pointy end using scissors. It might help to rule lines on the sponge with a lead pencil first first so that it’s even.
- Using your craft knife, cut a small horizontal slit in the sponge for the mast (the craft stick) to be placed.
- Make the sail. Lay down a piece of duct tape, then stick a second piece of duct tape along side it also upside down but overlapping. The width should be approximately the same as the width of the sponge. Stick a second layer of tape down over the first, so that the sticky side faces down and the sail is smooth on both sides. Decorate with stripes of a different colour if desired, but this is optional.
- Use your craft knife or scissors to trim the edges of the sail. Make it a roughly square shape.
- Place two small pieces of duct tape around the craft stick mast at the top and close to the bottom where the base of the sail will sit. This helps to keep sail in place.
- Use your craft knife again to cut a small horizontal slit at the top and bottom of the sail.
- Thread the duct tape sail through the slits to make a curved mast.
And now… time to play!
More fun DIY toys:
• Make a straw swing set for imaginative play
• This giant dice made from cardboard is so much fun!
• Make a butterfly costume for your favourite doll from paper
• These garden rocks, painted folk art style, would make a lovely hand made gift