We don't yet have a boat in our family and I'd like to get one. We've got two small boys, what would you recommend? A tandem kayak? Canoe? Two smaller kayaks? Follow question, which single kayak will best fit a small child?
Kids kayaks can be cheap and an easy introduction (like the $100 Wave). They are easy to transport and kids love playing with them. Our 5 year old is a competent lake paddler now, after a few yaers messing around on his own kayak. I started him on my lap in my kayak, them put him in the rear gear hatch when he was 2 and 3.
I would like a tandem kayak, but they are hard for just one person to load onto a car.
@REI-LeslieN - I agree with @JasonB... I had gotten a tandem kayak and it was too heavy and big for me to handle by myself. Almost too much for me and another person to get up and off the car where it became a big hassle. I ended up selling it because of that reason and will probably get single kayaks in the future.
If you will be storing the kayak where you don't have to keep transporting it back and forth somewhere the tandem might not be a bad idea!
I personally think more work equals more bonding for kids. Obviously, not too hard to discourage them, but enough that they feel a sense of ownership and have earned their skills. For this, I think kids in the 5-6 and up would benefit from having their own boats. Kayaks are really affordable and kids can personalize how they want (stickers, paint, etc.). I'd recommend one for each kid, because you know how possessive kids can be. If you want them to love it and stick with it, they really need their own boats. For taking a couple small kids under 5, I actually would recommend an inflatable, as they can be bought at larger sizes and are "more comfortable" for kids who will just be along for the ride. Plus it has the same sensory effect as a bounce house or similar, so they will be immediately drawn to it. Last thing you want with a bunch of small kids is too much trouble getting going, so an inflatable can be tossed in the back of the car, blown up in minutes, and launched without any help.