Sailboat Racer


Heave-to and learn the science behind what makes a boat sail. Design a sail shape that works best in a classroom experiment.


1. What makes a sailboat move forward? How is the wind captured and why does that work? Look at photographs of sailing ships. Study the design of different shaped sails. Using Crayola® Pointed Scissors, cut sails from recycled plastic, envelop fabric. Try triangular, rounded and square shapes. Remember you need to balance the size of sail vs. size of boat’s base so the boat does not tip over when the wind fills the sail.

2. Decorate the sails using Crayola® Color Sticks™. Run a bead of Crayola® No-Run School Glue down inside edge of sail and roll around a thin skewer (or chopstick).

3. While the sail is drying, cut strips of duct tape and secure four corks together with the tape to form the boat’s hull (base).

4. Poke the sail’s mast (skewer with sail) into the cork base. Test your design in a basin. Try a fan or hair dryer to generate some gales of wind.

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.

Outdoor Crafts—Choose safe outdoor areas, away from traffic and dangerous equipment. Close adult supervision is required.

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.

Wood—By its nature, wood is rough and may contain splinters or sharp points


  • Expand the experiment by adding additional skewers to the sail along the bottom of sail or outer edge. Does this affect the boat’s navigation?
  • Supplement this activity with a Language Arts component studying everyday expressions taken from nautical usage (like "know the ropes", "cut and run", "toe the line", "square meal", "rummage sale").

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

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crayola supplies
  • No-Run School Glue
  • Pointed Tip Scissors
  • Color Sticks™ Colored Pencils
household supplies
  • masking tape
  • floral tape
  • duct tape
  • corks
  • bamboo skewers
  • recycled plastic envelopes



  • Grades 1 to 3
  • Grades 4 to 6


  • Science
  • Visual Arts


  • Multiple Sessions


  • Students design sails from photographs and from their scientific imagination.

  • Students test various shapes for efficiency.

  • Students construct boats that float and move forward.


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