Lemon boats were invented on a whim and are now in regular rotation whenever we make lemonade. Explore sink and float with this dynamic sensory table invitation!
Lemon boats were a surprise discovery and are a delightful addition to water play
When you live in the Sacramento region of California, a Summer day is often over 100 degrees.
The skies are bright blue, you wear short sleeves, and each day, you wonder if this will be the day you melt into a puddle.
Because our Summers are hot, we get creative with ways to stay cool, which often includes copious amounts of water play and lemonade. Water play is available every school day, and it’s always a center bursting at the seams.
Related: Science is one of our favorite subjects, and we have dozens of science demonstrations in our beautiful Virtual Preschool!
We discovered lemon boats on a scorching summer day after juicing what felt like 700 trillion lemons
On this day, we juiced many lemons and then had giant bowls full of lemon peels.
What could we do with these peels instead of just throwing them away? They were small, smelled good, and looked like little boats.
On this day, lemon boats were born. 🎉 🍋
Looking for more lemon activities? We’ve got you covered:
- Lemon and Watercolor Science – Friends Art Lab
- Lemon Stamp Art – Friends Art Lab
- Freshly Squeezed Lemonade Recipe – Kids Activities Blog
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- Juiced lemon halves – juiced with a handheld or electric juicer
- Large buckets filled with water – any size
- Small, lightweight toys – this family set of counters is a top favorite of ours
Note: my mom juices a whole Costco-sized bag of lemons at a time and freezes them in ice cube trays. This way, she can pop a cube into her water whenever she wants, AND we can make lemon boats in any season.
Set out the materials and let your littles explore, play, and imagine!
It’s a delight observing the kids filling the lemons with water and watching them sink, trying to find each lemon boat’s missing half, and chatting with each other about what they are doing and seeing.
Encourage kids to see how many toys a lemon boat can hold before it sinks. Explore using different items of different weights. For example, a lemon boat might be able to hold six family counters, but only two rocks. This is an excellent science exploration of buoyancy.
Is this a sensory activity?
It sure is! Basic water play connects the sense of sight, touch, and sound, also known as a multi-sensory experience.
When you look at these photos, can you imagine how the water feels? Can you hear the sound of dropping a lemon into a water table? YOU know how it looks and sounds because you have touched water and lemons many times in your life, and for kids, this is how they build their foundational knowledge.
And it gets EVEN BETTER.
When you add the lemons to this, you also add the sense of smell and possibly even the sense of taste (especially if you’re making lemonade beforehand).
Lemons smell fresh and inviting, and they elevate a regular water table to an irresistible one, just like that.
Don’t be in a rush to end the lemony water fun
At the end of your play session, dump out the water (you can use it to water your plants!) and gather all your lemons. If you put them in the refrigerator overnight, they’ll be as good as new to go again the next day.
We use our lemon boats for about a week before they eventually get tossed. Feel free to toss them out if you notice they rip apart.
Lemon boats are EVERYTHING
They smell good. They float. They’re perfectly sized for little hands.
They give extra life and purpose to something that would have otherwise been thrown away!
What’s not to love?