A Brief History of Boats and Ships {Free Printables}

A Brief History of Boats and Ships

History is such a vast subject. Anything that happened, including yesterday, is history. So, pretty much anything can fall under that umbrella. I wanted to come up with a fun history lesson for my children with a hands-on craft and homemade printables (free for you in this post). We have also studied several ancient civilizations because we love history.

Take a look at what we learned. I hope you will find this appealing, easy and fun to do. The lesson can take as little or as long as you’d like. You can keep it brief and general or you can go in-depth and really study the subject of the history of boats & ships. We made the boat craft first and then played with the printable cards, but you can do it the other way around if you want.A Brief History of Boats and Ships

For this lesson, you will need:

  • walnuts, cracked, whole halves (I recommend 2-4 halves per child)
  • modeling clay
  • toothpicks for the sail (one per walnut boat)
  • small colorful right triangles for the sail
  • tape or tacky glue
  • printable boat and ship cards (free printable at the end of this post
  • laminator, laminating pouches, scissors (optional)A Brief History of Boats and Ships

For our walnut boats, we cracked them carefully and removed the insides. Then, we added a small blob of modeling clay to the bottom and pushed it down hard enough for it to “stick” to the bottom. After that, we taped the triangle to the toothpick to make a sail. The sail stood in the modeling clay so it can stand up. We matched the sails with the modeling clay, but that is entirely optional, of course.A Brief History of Boats and Ships

The fun part was to put the walnut boats to the test. We put water in a bowl and set our walnut boats inside. My children were fascinated that they floated. I confess, we did veer off history for a bit to talk about buoyancy and such. They loved blowing air into the sails and watching their walnut boats move! This craft is super easy and inexpensive to make and yet it entertained my children for a long time

A Brief History of Boats and Ships

And now, for the history part. We moved on to the History-of-ships-and-boats-cards 3 part cards. You can print the pdf file twice (in color) to create the typical Montessori 3-part cards. Or if you want to use them in a timeline or as reference, then print them once.

There are 6 cards and they can be arranged in order by date. Here is a link with more information on the history of each kind of boat and ship. The sky is the limit on how you want to use these cards, but this is how were used them: we started out matching them as 3-part cards. Then, we talked about the look of each ship and how they differ.

We also talked about sophistication, what they were used for, weight they could carry and how many men were needed to operate them. We even talked about which ones were our favorites and why! Next, I used 5 pieces of letter-sized paper taped together to create a timeline from 4000BC all the way to the 18th century. On the timeline, we place the cards in the correct order by date.A Brief History of Boats and Ships

We had so much fun with this lesson and we learned a lot. Maybe next time, I can make some 3-part cards of all kinds of modern-day boats and ships. 😉 Would you be interested in that lesson, too? Let me know in the comments below! But for now, click on the link to download your free printable set of the brief history of boats and ships.

History of ships and boats cards

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About the author


Tanya is a homeschooling mom to two children, a son and a daughter. She focuses on following their particular learning interests at their level and in building a strong Christian foundation in their hearts. To cater to their high giftedness, she uses an eclectic teaching approach, which complement each other and maximize the fun in learning. Tanya has a degree in elementary education, a minor in French and a Master's degree in school administration. She is happily married to her best friend and enjoys sharing her life and experiences in her blog to provide inspiration and bring new ideas.


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