8 Fun Ways to Teach Kids About Boating

Back-to-school season is the perfect time to focus on making learning fun for your kids! Although boating is a great way to escape reality, it can also be used as a tool to explore and learn about the world around us.

For instance, many of us appreciate nature more when we’re out on the water. And although we may not realize it, we utilize lessons about geography, math, and other subjects when operating a vessel, fueling up, and performing other boating tasks.

In this post, we'll explain how you can make learning onboard fun for your kids!

8 Boat Lessons that Kids Will Love

1. Use “red right return” to teach left from right

This famous saying could've been one of the first concepts you learned when you began boating. The alliteration is a reminder to keep red navigation aids on the starboard (a.k.a. right) side when returning from the open sea or heading upstream. It’s a simple concept that young children can comprehend, especially if they're learning left from right. 

2. Use markers to teach ABCs and 123s

Small children love to count numbers and sing their ABCs. Conveniently, all sorts of markers have numbers on them, so you can use this as an opportunity to help your child practicing counting. 

For instance, ask your kids to look for specific numbers. Or, ask them to recite each number as you approach the markers. Use the opportunity to explain what the numbers mean, too. Older kids who are proficient readers can read aloud signs about hazards and obstructions.

3. Teach them to plot a course

Middle-schoolers are old enough to understand distances between home and a favorite anchorage. They can hone their math skills by learning how many nautical miles there are between the two and what a nautical mile is versus a mile on land. 

In addition, you can show them how to use your chart plotter or nautical maps to plan your next outing.

boat lessons

4. Calculate fuel consumption 

Are you struggling to make math seem fun to your child? Next time your family heads out on a boat, have them help you calculate fuel consumption for your trip.

First, tell them how many gallons of fuel your boat holds. Then, have your boater-in-training calculate how much fuel you’ll likely burn on your next trip based on the average consumption. Double-check the numbers together to see if they were correct after the trip.

5. Examine aquatic life

Budding biologists will love lessons about all of the marine life that you can see out on the water!

For example, you can use a dropper to collect water from the lake or ocean and check out the liquid beneath a microscope. All sorts of cool microorganisms will suddenly become visible. 

If you don’t have a microscope, no worries. Sit down together at home to look up what flora and fauna inhabit your boating area. Then, try to identify as many of them as possible while onboard. If you enjoy fishing, use this as an opportunity to teach your kids about the importance of catch and release, promoting sustainability.

Read Next: All-Purpose Fishing Boats


6. Identify cloud formations

Finally, make learning fun on your boat for mini meteorologists by teaching them to keep a watchful eye on the sky. 

Cloud movements tells us what direction the weather is approaching, and the types of clouds reveal when the weather is changing. Overall, cloud colors, shapes, and sizes are all scientific signs of weather and atmospheric conditions. 

On your boat, you can teach kids about these weather conditions and make a game out of naming cloud types. 

7. Make safety fun

As you likely know, promoting boating safety is key. Teaching your kids about safety best practices can save lives, but you can also make it fun. 

Ask them to help you make a safety checklist before you head out on the water. This check list can include life jackets, floatation devices, fire extinguishers, and signaling devices, among other items. By promoting safe boating, you can ensure that your family members are safe, and that your kids are gaining knowledge that they'll keep with them on future boating trips.

8. Enroll them in a youth boating program

If your kids show an interest in boating, why not sign them up for a youth boating program? These programs teach kids beginner boating skills and can provide an excellent foundation for recreational boating.


By incorporating these lessons into your next boat day, you can make learning fun for your kids!