How to Create a Cardboard Boat

Written by candice coleman
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How to Create a Cardboard Boat
A box like this one would be ideal for the body of your cardboard boat. (blue box image by Dumitrescu Ciprian from

A cardboard boat project can be undertaken by children as young as 3-years-old. Add a sail to your creation to watch it master the waters, or simply to admire it on a shelf. For beginners, a boat with a flat bottom is least likely to tip over. After assembling your cardboard boat, a few splashes of acrylic paint can make it an eye-attracting feature. Remember to avoid using a glue gun on your project, as that glue can melt on a hot day.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Acrylic paint
  • Recycled cardboard
  • School glue
  • Scissors
  • Wood dowel
  • Styrofoam piece
  • Construction paper
  • Utility knife

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  1. 1

    Take a small box, such as a cake mix box, and set it down so that the front of the box is facing the ceiling. Use a utility knife or another sharp object to gently cut around the edges of the front of the box, and then remove it. The back of the cake box, and the sides of it, should be all that remains. Dispose of the top of the box.

  2. 2

    Paint the body of your cardboard boat with acrylic paint. You can paint the inside of the boat as well, if you desire.

  3. 3

    Use scissors to cut two right triangles, one slightly smaller than the other, from two sheets of construction paper. The sails, when placed side-by-side, should be slightly longer than your boat. The tallest triangle should measure from 5 to 8 inches, with the smaller triangle slightly shorter. Decorate the sails using crayons or paint as desired.

  4. 4

    Place glue along the vertical edge of the taller triangle, and place the wood dowel or stick on the glue. Gently roll the triangle around the dowel once. Next, apply glue to the vertical edge of the smaller triangle and wrap it around the wood dowel as well.

  5. 5

    Glue a small chunk of styrofoam in the centre of the bottom of your boat. Insert the wood dowel, which is your mast, into the centre of the styrofoam.

Tips and warnings

  • If you choose to use individual, flat cardboard pieces to create your cardboard boat, have them laminated before you assemble the boat. Laminating the pieces will make it possible for the boat to survive on the water.
  • Avoid building boats that are tall and light --- this will disrupt the centre of gravity and make it easier for your boat to tip.
  • Use reinforced paper tape on the body of your cardboard boat before you paint it in order to strengthen it.

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