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Boat Race Instant Challenge ~ Logic for Kids

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The kids in our learning group are really loving the Instant Challenges. The adults are too – enough that we want to be included in them the next time we are together!

Boat Race Instant Challenge



We pulled this challenge from one that Michelle from Delightful Learning provided a few years ago and put it to the test with the eleven kids in our group.

Instant Challenge – Boat Race

Our second instant challenge was to build a boat, have it be ‘seaworthy’, and race it against the other boats. The kids were divided up into 3 smaller groups {2 3-person groups and one 4-person} with a pretty fair mix of boys/girls in each group.

Challenge: Create a boat and race it across the water as quickly as possible.

Supplies: 3 straws, 10 craft sticks, 3 Styrofoam cups, 3 marshmallows, 1 piece of string, 1 piece of foil, 3 mailing labels, 2 chenille sticks, 1 piece of paper, and a tub of water

{see the downloads and more information here}

We gave each team a 2 minute ‘on paper’ planning time to talk over the ideas swimming around in their heads. This wasn’t a time to build or touch the supplies – just a chance to think out loud together.

Boat Race Instant Challenge (1)

The teams were given 8 minutes to build a boat using the materials they were provided {see supplies}. During the time that they were working together as a team, another mom and I walked around the room to see how the kids were working together as a team – but no help!!

Boat Race Instant Challenge (3)

Each team took a very different approach!! Here’s a look at the finished projects.

Boat Race Instant Challenge (4)

Vessel #1

Boat Race Instant Challenge (5)

Vessel #2

Boat Race Instant Challenge (6)

Vessel #3

Testing Sea-worthiness

Boat Race Instant Challenge (7)

Once the boats were completed, we took them all outside to race them across a tub of water and timed their travel. To be fair, the same mom gave them each a send-off.


Each of the teams was also given a chance to explain the process in their boat building – why they thought something would or wouldn’t work and what they would have done differently after seeing how their boat raced. This was actually very fun to listen to – and see how their minds were working when we might have been thinking “What in the world made them do that?”

Boat Race Scoring

Points were given to the team for a few different things: having a completed boat, speed the boat races across the water, creativity in racing, creative use of materials, and teamwork.

Out of all of the boats, Vessel #3 was the winner, although Vessel #1 was a close second. Vessel #2, sadly started taking on water and that hindered the progress. {grins}

Are you a part of a learning group? What fun activities have you done together to foster teamwork? 

Links to Work on Your Own Boat Race Challenge

In case you’d like to work on this Instant Challenge with your children, here are a few links to help you out:

Other Fun Instant Challenges

This post may contain affiliate or advertiser links. Read my full disclosure policy .

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  1. What a fun challenge! I love how their boats were all so different!

  2. Great activity! Thanks for sharing!


    Science for Kids

  3. the kids love them! Can’t wait for a new one next month either!

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