Let It Float: Easy Walnut Shell Ships

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When it comes to quick and easy, this simple little walnut shell boat will make a quiet afternoon come alive with tales of the high seas. All you need are a few basic ingredients and it’s smooth sailing indeed. Read on for the how-to.

walnut boat in teacup

You will need:

Walnuts: whole walnuts, shelled in half

Toothpicks or small twigs

Scotch tape (optional)

A candle

For the sail: Thin paper, leaves, fabric  (whatever floats your boat)

walnut craft

Step one: Crack that nut!
You’ll probably want at least half a dozen (which is only 2 whole nuts) or more depending on how many kiddos you have. Crack your nuts, eat or set aside the yummy innards.

Step two: Hoist that rag!
If you are using paper, have the kiddos decorate your sails. Or gather the just-right leaf, or fabric piece: it will need to be small, thin and relatively stiff. You can create triangle sails or rectangle, tall or wide. You’ll probably have to experiment a bit to get the right size sail, but roughly 2” x 1.5”  is a good size.

Step three: Drip it, drip it real good.
Light that candle and let the wax drip into the shells. You want just enough to be able to poke one end of the toothpick or small twig into the wax. Let the wax cool enough and stick the mast in. Attach the sail to the mast by poking it through. (You can use scotch tape to reinforce or even tape the sail directly onto the toothpick, just keep in mind added weight up top may cause a capsized boat). 

walnut boat

Step four: Sail away!
Use the sink or a small bowl and sail your little walnut shell boats. Have a breath-powered race to see who reaches the other side.

Tips & Tricks
No wax? Try a marshmallow, a small bit of silly puddy or even playdough: all you need is to hold the sail up without adding too much weight to sink. 

Poke the sail through the stick before you “raise” it in the wax.

If your boat sinks, try trimming the sail and keeping it closer to the hull.

Have you ever made a walnut shell ship? What other cute crafts can you make from a walnut shell? 

—Photos and copy by Amber Guetebier