Boat Shop

The Designs

Boats to be built will be selected from simple, proven, easy to build, plywood designs which include: In these designs, we will search out a link to a cultural or historic theme, which will be the topic of student research projects. For example, Westlake's Athabaskan interpretation "Yukon" opens the door to a project on Athabaskan cultures, pirogues have a long history in Cajun cultures, and Wacky Lassie has links to the Rushton era "Wee Lassie" of the late 19th century. Incorporating a design element such as an Aleut spirit line, or applying painted Tlingit designs to an otherwise ordinary boat could provide a meaningful link to the student's independent research.

These designs are simple, stable, and easy for children to build. Building techniques have been specially adapted for elementary-aged children. We will use non-toxic materials and hand tools only. Electric tools are occasionally needed but will be used by instructors when children are not present.

Ideally, a space can be located that could accomodate the entire class, during normal school hours. Failing this, the actual boatbuilding could occur after hours, as a special "club" activity. (Note: an Anchorage 5th grade class of 25 built 5 "Yukons" literally *in* their classroom). Hands-on building time is estimated at 20 hours per boat. 5 boats, with groups of 4 children per team. Best with 1 adult mentor per boat (need not have any prior experience with tools or boatbuilding).


The Real Thing! Building the Boats

Back to: Boatbuilding: An Integrated Interdisciplinary Approach for the Elementary School Classroom

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Contact:  Fritz Funk (