Boat Crafts for Children

    by Kim Hoyum

    About the Author

    Kim Hoyum is a Michigan-based freelance writer. She has been a proofreader, writer, reporter and editor at monthly, weekly and daily publications for five years. She has a Bachelor of Science in writing and minor in journalism from Northern Michigan University.


    Boat-themed crafts for children are fun to make -- especially if they float. You can use common household items with the addition of some kids’ craft materials, and the kids can make the boats themselves -- with adult supervision, of course. Adjust the difficulty of the craft to the children’s ages and abilities, and they will learn about transportation and have fun at the same time.


    Preschoolers can make colorful shapes like triangles, rectangles and circles, then glue them on construction paper to make a boat picture. Printable templates for shapes are available online, or you can draw them with black marker. Add blue tissue paper for water and cotton balls for clouds, and teach the children about shapes and colors as you go.
    Preschoolers can also make easy sailboats by sticking a drinking-straw mast into a ball of clay at the bottom of a small plastic container, such as a margarine tub, then taping a paper sail to the mast. Clean Styrofoam meat trays can also be strung together to make a barge with the aid of a hole punch and some yarn. The meat trays and margarine tubs will float nicely, a plus for smaller children who will enjoy seeing their boats work.

    5 to 7 years

    Make pirate ships, English men-o-war, Spanish galleons or three-masted schooners from cardboard milk cartons, with the addition of some construction paper, straws and a bit of playdough. Cover a milk carton in construction paper, glue small lumps of playdough on the center, and glue part of another milk carton over the top. Then, poke holes over the playdough and stick straws down into it for the masts. Add paper sails, portholes and flags to create any type of ship you want. Using craft foam rather than construction paper will enable the ship to float in water.
    You also can make sailboats that really float from egg cartons, Styrofoam paper or plastic cups, soap bar boxes or matchboxes, depending on age and skill. A super-easy boat also can be made from a foil pan, a vinyl report cover and a bamboo skewer, using playdough again to secure the mast.

    8 to 12 years

    Origami boats are a time-tested and easy-to-make children’s craft, and all you need is plain paper; even a half-sheet of old newspaper will do the job. Fold the paper in half, fold down the top corners to make a triangle shape, and then fold the remaining strip on the bottom upward. Do the same on the other side. (If you stop there, you’ve made a paper hat.) Open the hat toward you and flatten into a diamond shape, fold up the lower triangles on each side, and again flatten it into a diamond. Pull the top corners out gently and it will open into a boat. Neaten the edges and pull apart the bottom slightly if you want it to float. Older children also can make balsa wood boats if they are able to use a woodcarving knife safely. Once the boat is carved, attach a short dowel and a fabric sail with superglue or Krazy Glue, and add lead fishing sinkers to the bottom to keep it sailing upright. It can be sanded, painted and sealed for a sailboat the envy of any child.