Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Whatever Floats Your Boat

Sissy Gandy
Santa Rosa District Schools


The students make boats by folding paper. They identify and draw shapes made during the creating process and place lines of symmetry on them.


The student describes symmetry in two-dimensional shapes.

The student determines lines of symmetry of two-dimensional shapes by using concrete materials.


- One copy of the book CURIOUS GEORGE RIDES A BIKE
by H. A. Rey, Scholastic Inc., N.Y., 1952.
ISBN 0-590-02045-5
- Plain white paper (8 1/2 x 11) for each student
- Pencils
- Coloring materials, such as markers or crayons
- Copy of activity sheet for each student (see attached file)
- Copy of rubric for each child (see attached file)
- Index cards


1. Get a copy of the book CURIOUS GEORGE RIDES A BIKE by H.A. Rey.
2. Get plain white paper (8 1/2 x 11) for each student to use. However, make sure to get extra because some will mess up and need another sheet.
3. Practice making the boat before the lesson by following directions on pages 17 and 18. To get your paper ready, it must by folded in half horizontally before you start following the directions.
4. Make copies of the rubric and activity sheet. (See attached file.)
5. Write -origami- on an index card.
6. Establish a place to display the fleet of boats made by your class.


1. Read CURIOUS GEORGE RIDES A BIKE by H. A. Rey to students.
2. Discuss the events in the story and direct students attention to pages 17 and 18 where Curious George folds the papers into boats.
3. Ask students, -How do you think George knew how to fold those newspapers to make a boat?-
4. Show students the index card with the word -origami- written on it. Explain that paperfolding comes from Japan. The Japanese people call it origami because -ori- means fold and -gami- means paper in their language. Tell students you are going to show them how George folded the paper to make a boat.
5. Give each student a piece of plain white paper.
6. Follow the step by step instructions on pages 17 and 18 in the book to fold the paper into a boat. Go slowly, pausing after each step to help students who need help and to allow time for discussing changes students see after each step. (Be sure to call student's attention to the different shapes that appear as you are making the boat.)
7. Discuss what symmetry is and ask students to tell where lines of symmetry are as they see new shapes appear. Explain to students that this boat is not flat when you open it up, so that means it is a three dimensional object having height, width, and depth.
8. Give students the activity sheet. Have students complete the activity sheet by answering the questions about their boats.
9. Have students use markers or crayons to decorate and put their names on the boats they made.
10. Explain that a group of boats is called a fleet. The fleet will be on display for classroom visitors to view. Show students where to display their boats.
11. Give the students the rubric. Pair them with a buddy. Tell them to read each statement about the lesson and circle yes or no about the statement. They may discuss it with the buddy if needed.


Students are assessed throughout this lesson by observation and by the creation of their boats. The students will complete the activity sheet independently with 90% accuracy to assess their individual knowledge of symmetry and identify those who need help. It does not receive a grade. The student will complete the rubric with a partner's help which provides immediate feedback from the lesson since the student will determine the grade on his work.


The online student lesson LET'S LEARN SYMMETRY will help students who have trouble identifying the line of symmetry and can be used to review.

The weblink can be used to extend the lesson by letting students use the computer to color a picture of a sailboat on line.

Check out a book about origami from the media center to incorporate into lessons and units that follow this lesson in other curriculum areas. I show students how to make a paper cup and allow them to get water from the fountain in it.

Origam projects make wonderful gifts. My class makes picture frames. (I have received several from former students on my birthday.) Origami animals lend themselves to literature and writing projects.

Paperfolding comes from the Japanese people which extends this lesson into a social studies unit on culture, mapping skills, or the background of origami which is very interesting.

Web Links

Web supplement for Whatever Floats Your Boat
Coloring Pages

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