How to Build a Pirate Ship for Kids

Updated November 21, 2016

Pirates have been sailing the seven seas for centuries. Today, children are fascinated by them and are exposed to them in movies and television. There are many toys on the market that represent pirates, however, they can be expensive. Instead of buying a plastic pirate ship at the toy store, you can make one at home using a few supplies you can pick up at your local craft store and a couple of milk cartons.

Empty and clean two paper milk cartons. Use dish soap and warm water. Allow them to thoroughly dry. Since the smell of sour milk can be unpleasant, it is best to repeat the cleaning process a second time.

Label the sides for easy reference. The bottom is side A, the side the spout is on is B, then going around clockwise it is C, D, and E.

Lay the carton flat so that side D is down and A is up.

Attach a piece of black craft foam, using tape, on side A. The ends of the foam should wrap around and cover sides C and E by about two inches. Allow it to stick up over the edge of the carton by about one inch.

Use tape to adhere a second piece of black craft foam to one of the cartons. Place the foam so that it covers all of side D. It should come up half way on sides C and E.

Tape white craft foam onto the rest of the exposed areas.

Adhere two clumps of play dough to the middle of side A. They should be running lengthwise, not widthways. This will hold the ship's masts. The colour does not matter.

Use scissors to cut off the bottom three inches of the second milk carton. Discard the top section.

Tape the bottom of the second milk carton to the second milk carton, covering the mounds of play dough. The open side of the second carton should be against side A of the first milk carton.

Use a pencil to poke two holes in the top of the second milk carton. The holes should be spaced so that they are directly over top of the play dough.

Cover the second milk carton with another piece of white craft foam. Before you take it down, however, mark where the holes are and use a pencil or scissors to puncture the foam.

Place drinking straws through your premade holes. These will be your masts. Insert the ends of the straws into the play dough for support.

Use scissors to cut two large and two small rectangles out of yellow craft foam. The exact size depends on the length of your drinking straws. They will be placed on the straws as sails and should be a good size as to cover most of the straw that is sticking up but not be smashed together.

Cut a small slit a half inch down from the edge of the long side of one of the large sails. The hole should be centred. Cut a second slit on the opposite side in the same manner. Repeat this for the other large sail and the two smaller sails.

Insert the straws through the sails. Thread them through so that they billow out like sails.

Use markers to draw windows and doors on the smaller milk carton.

Make portholes for the sides of the large milk carton by cutting six yellow circles out of yellow craft foam. They should be about an inch in diameter. Use craft glue to attach them to the sides of the boat, three on each side. Place them on the white craft foam.


If you desire a gang plank, you can make one by cutting a rectangle out of cardboard or brown craft foam. Affix the gang plank using craft glue. Since you made the boat out of craft foam it is safe around water and can be used as a bath toy.

Things You'll Need

  • Two paper milk cartons
  • Craft foam
  • Tape
  • Play dough
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Two drinking straws
  • Markers
  • Glue
  • Cardboard
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