Balloon Boats

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Make a Balloon Boat which will power itself across the water.

You can use this activity as an experiment as well by having a log chew/chat about what might make the boat power across the water - what is power, what sort of things might we do to make a boat move etc. We also talked about what might make a difference in terms of the shape of the container. What happens if you use a sail, or don't. What happens if you use two balloons!


Balloons, straws, rectangular trays (or any recycling materials such as margarine tubs, curry tubs, water bottles, tetra packs etc), scissors, white tac (stickier that blu tac), rubber bands. Stickers/Pens to personalise if you wish. EDIT and someone to wade in to the middle of the pond to get everything back!

A bag to take away all the boats that no-one wanted to take home :)


We also used stickers and pens for the children to personalise their own boats.

1. Use your scissors or a sharp knife to make a small hole in one end of your container just big enough for your straw to fit through.
2. Use your straw - depending on the size of your container you may wish to cut your straw in half and attach the balloon to one end using a small rubber band wrapped tightly and a bit of white tac if necessary to ensure it is secure.
3. Push your straw through the hole in your 'boat' making sure the balloon end is on the inside and the straw should be extended outside by several centimeters. If using a straw with a bendy bit, that can act as a rudder in the water.
4. Use your white tac to secure the straw on each side so it is watertight. You could also use Plasticine or similar for this.
5. Blow the balloon up using the straw. You need to put your finger over the end of the straw to prevent the air blowing out before you are ready!
6. Place the boat in the water, let go of the straw and off it goes - our Beavers LOVED this bit :-) The messy bit was when they wanted to keep blowing the balloons up. That got a bit wet and messy!.

Variation: just blow up the balloons and tie them and watch them float more sedately. You could have a race to see who gets them to the otherside.


  • balloons
  • boats
  • experiment
  • water activity

Badge Links

  • Adventure - Adventurous activity
  • Adventure - Outdoor activity
  • Experiment - Experiment
  • Skills - Problem solving