Who Sank the Boat? By, Pamela Allen

Five friends decide to go for a boat ride… This book is a who done it for preschoolers.  Will they be able to figure out who sank the boat? 


  • Plastic lids of various sizes.
  • A dishwashing tub
  • Naptime mat or blanket
  • Boat picture for writing center
  • Boat picture to cut around for art


  • Bay (harbor or cove)
  • Tilted (to make the boat angle crookedly)
  • Din (lots of loud noise)
  • Bow (the front of the boat)
  • Flutter (to make the boat go up and down)

Before reading the Story

Show the children the front of the book.  Ask if any have ever been in a boat?  What are these animals not doing for safety?  (Wearing a life preserver).  Talk about what a life preserver does.  Do you ever wear one when you are swimming?  Always wear a life preserver in a boat, it’s the law.

Physical Health & Development/Health Status & Practices; builds awareness and ability to follow basic health and safety rules such as fire safety, traffic and pedestrian safety, and responding appropriately to potentially harmful objects, substances, and activities.

Reading the Story

On the page where the reader is first asked, “Do you know who sank the boat”?  Stop and let the children make a prediction about who they think will sink the boat and why.  Each time the author asks, “Do you know who sank the boat”? stop and let the children change their prediction if they like.

Approaches to Learning/Reasoning & problem Solving; develops increasing abilities to classify, compare, and contrast objects, events, and experiences.

As the different animals are getting into the boat, can the children name the expressions? (fear, nervousness, relief). Can they tell you about a time that they felt these emotions?

Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; develops increasing abilities to understand and use language to communicate information, experiences, ideas, feelings, opinions, needs, questions,; and for other varied purposes.

After Reading the Story

Ask the children to name the 5 animals that were in the boat.  Ask the children if they think just one animal sank the boat, why?  Now ask the children if they noticed what was happening to the boat each time an animal friend got in.  Go back through the pages and show them how the boat is getting lower and lower in the water.  Ask them if they know what is causing the boat to sink?

Science/Scientific Knowledge; shows increased awareness and beginning understanding of changes in materials and cause-effect relationships.


Do a float and sink experiment.  Bring a variety of objects from the classroom over to a large tub of water.  Ask the children to predict if it will float or sink.  Can they explain why they think so?

Science/Scientific Skills; begins to participate in simple investigations to test observations, discuss and draw conclusions, and form generalizations.

Music and Movement

Sing Row Row Row Your Boat https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7otAJa3jui8  After singing it through once or twice, ask the children to get a partner and sit facing each other holding hands. Now sing a verse and have the children rock back and forth. Have the children sit back to back and row the boat. Sit side by side. What other ways can the children think to row the boat with their partner?

Creative Arts/Movement; shows growth in moving to different patterns of beat and rhythm in music.

In the story there were lots of rhymes today.  Who remembers what rhyming words are?  Sing Rhyming Words Sound the Same 

Rhyming words sound the same (clap, clap)

Rhyming words sound the same. (clap, clap)

Rhyming words sound the same (clap, clap)

Rhyming words sound the same. (clap, clap)

Say a word and see if the children can name a rhyming word. Bring in pictures of rhyming words. Put half the rhymes up on a board where everyone can see them and then each time you sing, hold up a picture from the other half of the rhyming words. Can the children see and name the rhyming words?

Literacy/Phonological Awareness; progresses in recognizing matching sounds and rhymes in familiar words, games, songs, stories, and poems.


Challenge the children to make boats out of blocks. Print and hang pictures of block boats.  Challenge your children to read the model and make their own boats from blocks.

Approaches to Learning/Engagement & Persistence; grows in ability to persist and complete a variety of tasks, activities, projects, and experiences.


Watercolor paints.  Can you paint a lake?  Give each child a simple boat shape to cut out and glue onto their lake picture when it is dry.

Creative Arts/Art; gains ability in using different art media and materials in a variety of ways for creative expression and representation. AND Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; develops growing strength, dexterity, and control needed to use tools such as scissors, paper punch, stapler, and hammer.

Cut out various sized squares, rectangles, and triangles from assorted papers.  Encourage the children to put them together to make boats.  Glue to paper.

Approaches to Learning/Engagement & Persistence; demonstrates increasing ability to set goals and develop and follow through on plans. AND Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; progresses in ability to put together and take apart shapes.

Sand and Water

Add water to the table today along with the counting bears and plastic lids.  Show the children how to float the lid like a boat.  How many counting bears can they get on the boat before it tilts and sinks?

Mathematics/Number & Operations; demonstrates increasing interest and awareness of numbers and counting as a means for solving problems and determining quantity.

Library and Writing

Give the children a copy of the boat picture.  Encourage them to draw friends, either real or imaginary in the boat. Ask them to tell you about their boat and write their words underneath.

Literacy/Early Writing; begins to represent stories and experiences through pictures, dictation, and play.

Dramatic Play

Use a mat or blanket to pretend it is a boat.  Remind the children about water safety, wear a life preserver.  Talk to the children about boat safety.  What were the animals NOT wearing that they should have been?  Life preservers.  Use scarves to be pretend life preservers.  The children can drape them over their shoulders and pretend to be out in a boat. Add fishing poles and a picnic lunch.

Creative Arts/ Dramatic Play; participates in a variety of dramatic play activities that become more extended and complex.

Math and Manipulatives

Today would be a good day to reintroduce your children to the balance scale. Put out a bowl of one inch cubes and a variety of small objects to weigh. How many cubes does a plastic banana weigh? How many cubes does a rock weigh? Can you find something that weighs less than a one inch cube?

Mathematics/Number & Operations; begins to make use of one-to-one correspondence in counting objects and matching groups of objects.

Outdoor Play

If you are doing this unit in the summer, have a water day on the playground!  Set up sprinklers for the children to run through.

Bring your paint outside today.  Hang a large piece of bulletin board paper on the fence today.  Bring out paper plates.  Pour paint onto the plate and use sponge rollers to make a body of water.  When it dries you can use it for the background of the children’s boats made in art.

Creative Arts/Art; gains ability in using different art media and materials in a variety of ways for creative expression and representation.


As the children prepare to go to the next activity ask each one to name an object that is heavier than a _____. Also try lighter than a _______, bigger than a ______, smaller, Longer/shorter.

Mathematics/Patterns & Measurement; begins to make comparisons between several objects based on a single attribute.


About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.