How to Make an Ancient Chinese Paddle Wheel Boat for School

Written by kathryn wagner
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How to Make an Ancient Chinese Paddle Wheel Boat for School
Make your own ancient Chinese paddle boat ( Images)

When most people hear "China" they think of the Great Wall, the Forbidden City or Hong Kong. But many people don't know that China also is home to many ancient objects, including the paddle boat, which originated around 450AD by the Southern and Northern Dynasties. Sailors found that a feathered paddle made for a quicker ride than oars. You can help your child make a replica of the ancient Chinese paddle boat for his school project.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • 8 Thin strips of wood approximately 4mm deep, 2 inches wide, and 6 inches long
  • 6 Pieces of wood approximately 2 inches long and 1 inch wide
  • 2 Wide silver rings or other small, round object approximately 1 inch in diameter
  • Miniature saw or heavy-duty scissors
  • Small plastic boat rudder
  • Rod of wood approximately 5 inches long and 1 inch wide.
  • Coloured permanent markers
  • Cyanoacrylate glue
  • Minidrill or whittling knife

Show MoreHide


    Build the Boat

  1. 1

    Start by building the boat. On your work desk lay out the eight thin strips of wood. Three of these strips will make the side of your boat and two will form the base to mimic the high walls of the ancient Chinese paddle boats. For the base of your boat, you will want to glue together the sides of the thin strips to make one long 4-inch base. Next, carve either end of the base into the shape of an upside-down V using your saw or heavy duty scissors.

    How to Make an Ancient Chinese Paddle Wheel Boat for School
    Build the base and sides of your boat (BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)
  2. 2

    Craft the right side of your boat by gluing together the sides of three of the strips. Set it aside to dry. Glue together the sides of the remaining three strips for the left side. Set it aside to dry.

  3. 3

    Glue the two sides to the base of the boat. You will need to bend the sides a little to fit the shape the of the boat's base. You have now made the framework for your ancient Chinese paddle boat. Set it aside to dry.

  4. 4

    Once the boat has dried, encourage your child to draw ancient Chinese designs on the boat for decoration using the colourful markers.

  5. 5

    Carve a half circle approximately 1 inch deep and wide at the top of each side near the middle using your small drill or whittling knife. This creates a space for the rod that will hold the paddle wheels on either side of the boat.

    Build the Paddlewheels

  1. 1

    Build the two paddle wheels for your boat. Start by placing the rod perpendicular across the boat so that it fits into the holes you just carved. It should fit into the holes such that it is secure but also able to rotate if you twist the rod around in circles. This rod will hold up the paddle wheels.

  2. 2

    Place three of the 2-inch pieces of wood around the silver rings such that it looks like a sun ray. Glue the bottom of each piece of wood to the ring; make sure to place them equidistant from each other. This makes up the framework of your paddle wheel. Repeat these steps to make the second paddle wheel

  3. 3

    Take the rod off your boat and put the rings on either end of the rod. If there is a tiny bit of space between the rod and the edge of the ring, fill it with glue to create a secure fit. Glue the rings to the rod so they don't move. Set it aside.

  4. 4

    Turn your boat upside down and glue the plastic rudder to the bottom base of the boat. You can find this plastic rudder at a toy store. If you are in a hurry, look for a boat in your child's toy collection and remove the rudder.

  5. 5

    Flip the boat right side up, secure the rod with the paddle wheels into the nooks and test your boat in the bathtub. By pushing the boat, the paddle wheels should propel the water forward just like the ancient Chinese boats.

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