Walnut Boat Races — an easy craft with hours of play

We love cracking walnuts in our home, but those beautiful walnut shells seem wasted in the rubbish bin. So on a lazy Saturday morning, I did a quick google and came up with an easy and instant craft project — Walnut Boats.

These are very simple to make and use a lot of leftovers — walnut shells, scraps of pretty paper, old pieces of fabric and old ends of wax candles. It feels so good to give new life to things.

Here are the easy instructions for making these Walnut Shell Boats :

  • Pry the walnut open on the seam, using a sharp knife (a parent led activity as the walnuts easily roll). Find the smooth (not pointy) end of the walnut, and insert the knife to split open. You will find dry / older walnuts work better than new fresh ones.
  • Save walnut meat or snack while you work!
  • Then approach this as an experiment — we did and it means kids aren’t too precious about boats that leak, sink, or capsize. It is part of the fun!
  • Gather the materials and…

  • Cut rectangles for the sails, pierce two holes in them with your wooden toothpicks for the masts, and then light your candle!
  • Cover your work surface with old newspaper or parchment paper to protect it from the melting wax stage.
  • Trim the end of the toothpick so it is flat, it will sit in the boat.
  • We used old pillar candles, but you could use any candles. We found that old birthday candles were a bit tricky since you have to have very good accuracy when melting it into the shell.
  • Pour the melted wax in the bottom of the shell, just enough to make the toothpick stand in it. But don’t put the toothpick into it until the wax has slightly cooled.
  • You can speed up the wax cooling process by either putting them in the fridge, or by using the cold water ‘lake’ that we made with a big cake pan for the boats and dipping the shells in the water slightly.

It takes a bit of engineering to make the boat float. But that is part of the fun. Is the sail too big? The wind too strong? The wax in the shell too much? Try making boat races with them. I promise, you can tidy your whole house while the kids are playing away… at least that is what I did.

And parents even find it a fun project to build on too!

Sometimes there are storms at sea… so take that into consideration and play away. And once the playing is done, just dry the boats off near a radiator, (the fabric sails were more durable but the paper ones got soaked) and bring them to the bathtub later for more fun!

If you make any fun walnut crafts, please share! We also love this as a lazy winter craft with a few materials needed.





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