How to Make a Cardboard Ship for Children

Updated November 22, 2016

Making a cardboard ship for children can be a fun activity full of imagination. Whether intended to be an ocean liner, a pirate ship, or a tugboat, a simple ship can easily be made in less than an hour. After the "construction" of the ship is complete, your children will enjoy decorating the inside and outside of the ship. Once the project is dry, a healthy dose of playing pretend can take over and occupy your children for hours.

Lay the box down on one side. The end of the box where the appliance was removed will be cut off, while the other end should still be closed. If your "closed" end is open, go ahead and tape or glue it shut.

Measure the height of the box from the ground up. Mark a line on the top of the box that is same distance from the opening of the box. The line should run parallel to the open edge of the box.

Draw portholes on the two long sides of the box, keeping them evenly spaced along the length of the box. Draw a large window on the closed end of the box. Try to make sure the windows go no further than halfway down the height of the box and no portholes are aligned with your marked line on the top.

Draw a rectangle or arch-shaped doorway on the top side of the cardboard with the base of the "door" running along the open end of the box. Keep the top of the door approximately three inches or further away from the drawn line.

Cut out the portholes, window, and rectangle doorway. Cut along the top corners of the box starting at the opening and stopping when you reach your marked line. Fold the cardboard flap down along the marked line to create and enclose the ship's cabin.

Allow the kids to paint or use markers to decorate their new ship as they please. Encourage them to continue to play pretend as they add nets, mermaids, porthole frames or anchors.


Often you can get leftover refrigerator boxes from department stores that sell appliances. If a refrigerator box isn't available, two dishwasher or stove boxes will work.


Always be sure to keep children away from sharp scissors and warn them of the dangers of playing with them.

Things You'll Need

  • Large refrigerator box
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Paints or markers
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