A sail boat is a classic toy enjoyed by all ages, especially if you make your own! Next time you’re by a body of water, be it a pond, lake, creek, or even your bath tub, make sure to have on hand the supplies to create a fleet of wooden ships. Scissors, fabric scraps, twine/string, and a Phillips head screwdriver will ensure some fun for everyone. Gather natural materials like drift wood, sticks, and bark. Arrange your finds by size and similarities. For the smallest sailors, simply watching a stick or piece of bark floating is quite exciting. However, older siblings and parents may want to invent their own sailing crafts.
Here are some tips on three basic designs for inspiration:
To make a bark boat: use a Philips head screwdriver to “drill” a little hole into the center of the bark. (A young child will love turning it once the hole has been started.)
Insert a stick into the hole. Create a sail by making two little snips into your fabric a few inches apart and weaving the stick (mast) through them. Large leaves make nice sails, as well!
A raft is wonderful challenge for an older child, but a young helper can gather sticks and arrange them by size. Start by tying a simple knot around the first stick. Continue to wrap and knot each stick. Follow the same steps for the opposite side. Lash a stick to the center for a mast. Try a Y shaped stick for a different kind of sail. Cut a piece of cloth in a triangle shape similar in size to the Y of the stick. Snip two holes and attach.
Catamarans are very sea-worthy vessels. This version is created by tying four sticks together. Arrange two long ones for the bottom and tie on two shorter ones perpendicular to the longer sticks. Create a traditional sail by securing a piece of fabric to a stick mast and weaving in a cross piece at the bottom. This makes a sturdy wind catcher.
If you don’t want your boats to drift away, tie a long piece of string to one end and attach the other to a stick. Wind the excess string around the stick like a spool.
Maya Donenfeld lives and plays in rural New York with her husband and two children. They sail boats down their creek and make frequent visits to nearby Cayuga Lake. She shares her adventures in nature and crafting on her blog maya*made.