Dive Into Submarines


Dive deep! Make your own model submarine while learning about the ups and downs of living and working in a huge underwater ship.


1. Submarines sink underwater, rise, and float on the surface. How? They change their weight using ballast tanks, which can hold either air or water. If the ballast tanks are filled with water, the sub becomes heavier and sinks. If the water is forced out, the weight of the vessel decreases and the sub rises. Find out more about submarines, how they work, and their history.

2. Discover what it’s like to be a submarine crew member by studying illustrations and reading descriptions of life on a submarine. If possible, find someone to interview about life on a sub. Now you’re ready to make a realistic model submarine scene.

3. Sculpt a sub. To make the hull, use Crayola® Scissors to cut a cardboard roll to the desired length of your submarine. Make two balls of aluminum foil. Insert them half way into each end of the roll. Glue in place with Crayola School Glue. Air-dry the hull.

4. Bend a chenille stick to form three propeller blades. Glue them in place on the aluminum foil. Air-dry the blades.

5. Cover the hull of your submarine with Model Magic. Cut out two small posterboard rudder rectangles. Insert and glue them near the propeller. Air-dry your sub.

6. Add Crayola Model Magic stripes to the hull. Cover the rudder rectangles with a layer of Model Magic.

7. To make the conning tower, make a small cylinder out of Model Magic. Gently press it on the top of the hull. Use white Model Magic to make porthole windows on and trim around the base of the conning tower. Roll and bend a thin cylinder of Model Magic to make the periscope. Press the periscope on top of conning tower. Air-dry your construction.

8. Craft a diorama. To make an underwater diorama in which to display your sub, remove the top from a recycled cardboard box. Use Crayola Washable Markers to color wide stripes on white construction paper for a background scene.

9. Cover your art area with newspaper. Use a Crayola Paint Brush to lightly brush over stripes with water to blend colors and show currents. Air-dry the scene.

10. Use Crayola School Glue to glue the background paper inside the box. Air-dry the box.

11. Glue your submarine in place. Air-dry your diorama thoroughly. You could even create a fleet of your own futuristic submarines!

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

Crayola Modeling Materials including Crayola Model Magic®, and Model Magic Fusion™, Crayola Air-Dry Clay, and Crayola Dough—

  • Keep away from open flames. Do not use to make candleholders, hot plates, trivets, or other similar objects that will be used or placed near fire and other heat sources.
  • Do not put in an oven, microwave, or kiln.
  • Do not make into vessels/containers that will hold unpackaged food.
  • The use of modeling material to make items that look like food is discouraged for children younger than age 5 to avoid their confusion with real food.
  • Unless sealed with a water-resistant glaze, do not make projects exposed to or immersed in water, such as boats or outdoor bird feeders. They would disintegrate when exposed to moisture.
  • Crayola Dough—contains gluten (wheat flour) as an ingredient.
  • Crayola Air-Dry Clay, Crayola Model Magic and Model Magic Fusion are gluten-free. However, they are produced on the same machinery as Crayola Dough which does contain gluten. Although the machines are cleaned prior to the start of each production run, there is a slight possibility that trace amounts of gluten from Crayola Dough may be present in the other modeling compound products. For information regarding specific ingredients or allergic concerns, please call our Consumer Affairs department at 1-800-272-9652 weekdays between 9 AM and 4 PM Eastern Standard Time.

Recycled Cardboard Tubes—Use paper towel tubes, gift-wrap tubes, or long cardboard tubes that can be cut to any length. Health professionals caution against using recycled toilet paper tubes for arts & crafts projects because of the potential fecal contamination.

Scissors—ATTENTION: The cutting edges of scissors are sharp and care should be taken whenever cutting or handling. Blunt-tip scissors should be used only by children 4 years and older. Pointed-tip scissors should be used only by children 6 years and older.


  • Collect various small items. Record predictions about which items will sink or float in combination or individually. Experiment to check on your predictions. Analyze your data.
  • To locate their targets, submarines use sound waves that travel through the water and then reflect back to the ship. These sonar systems use the same scientific principles that bats, whales, and dolphins use to locate their prey. Learn about echolocation and then try an outdoor activity in which a few hungry predators search for food in a large designated area (sky or ocean). To play the game, most of the class remains stationary around the perimeter of the designated area. Students choose a sound to make, from a list of four or five brainstormed suggestions. Four or five students are then blindfolded and each one is assigned one of the specific sounds to locate. As student prey is located, they join the teacher to watch the fun continue.
  • Since space on a submarine is so limited, crew members must fit all of their personal belongings in a shallow bunk pan under their beds. Make a list of all the items you would take with you on a 60-day sea patrol. Measure the perimeter of a twin size mattress to see if a 4-inch (10 cm) deep container the size of the mattress would hold all of the items on your list. Make a new list of items that will fit in the container. Explain your reasons for discarding some items and keeping others. Compare and discuss lists with classmates.

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

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crayola supplies
  • Paint Brushes
  • Markers
  • Model Magic®
  • No-Run School Glue
  • Pointed Tip Scissors
household supplies
  • recycled newspaper
  • aluminum foil
  • recycled boxes
  • posterboard
  • paper towels
  • chenille sticks
  • container(s) of water
  • recycled gift wrap or paper towel roll



  • Grades 4 to 6


  • Science
  • Visual Arts


  • Multiple Sessions
  • 30 to 60 minutes


  • Students research the history and scientific principles of submarines.

  • Students read about living and working on a submarine.

  • Students design and display a realistic replica of a submarine.


Research Canada Standards
Research UK Standards
Research U.S. Standards