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How to make a roman ship with popsicle sticks

Updated March 23, 2017

Popsicle sticks are often viewed as nothing more than garbage, however with a little bit of effort, these wooden sticks can be turned into works of art. Creating a ship out of Popsicle sticks is a classic children's craft project that can lead to ships that actually float on water. By studying the design of various ancient Roman ships, you can create a model that reflects the style and building constraints of ships during that era. Creating your own model Roman ship out of Popsicle sticks should take less than an hour to complete.

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  1. Study images of Roman ships to get an idea of what style ship you would like to make. Examine the differences between warships and trade ships, and try to consider how ancient Romans would put together these large vessels without the help of modern technology.

  2. Lay a sheet of newspaper over your workplace; this will ensure that you do not leave a mess while working.

  3. Place 4 to 6 Popsicle sticks next to each other in a row. Glue these sticks together to create a base for your ship. Allow the glue to dry before attempting to move the base.

  4. Glue together an identical number of sticks in the same manner as before. This set of sticks will act as the upper level of your roman ship.

  5. Glue together two sections of 2 to 4 Popsicle sticks each to serve as the sides of your roman ship. Take into consideration what kind of ship you are making a model of when deciding how large to make the sides of the ship. If you are making a warship, the sides should be thick and deep to represent the underbelly of the ship, which would contain sleeping quarters and a large crew. If you are making a model of a trade ship, the sides can be much smaller, as these ships only carried a small crew and used most of their space for cargo. Keep in mind that while both trade ships and warships had a comparable width, warships were much longer to allow for faster rowing speeds.

  6. Affix the side sections of your boat to the left and right sides of the base section. Use an ample amount of glue at the joining edges to ensure that a firm connection is made. Once the sides are firmly glued in place, you can affix to top section to the sides.

  7. Gather 4 to 8 Popsicle sticks and cut them down the centre vertically. This will be used to represent the rowing oars. These oars can be glued to the edges of the top section, angled down toward the floor leading away from the ship. Make sure to use an equal number of oars on both the left and right sides of the ship.

  8. Create a front section for your ship. The front potion of a ship is usually referred to as the "bow" of the ship. Ancient Roman ships often featured very ornate bows, which came in a wide variety of shapes and patterns. Depending on your materials, you may find it difficult to directly reproduce the wide range of bow styles that were found on ancient ships. For a simple, yet ornate bow, cut three Popsicle sticks in half horizontally. Angle the halves together so that they form a point at one end, and glue the point together. Glue the back end of this piece to the front section of your boat to create a triangular bow that can be embellished with craft supplies, paint or markers.

  9. Create a rear section for your boat. The rear section of a ship is usually referred to as the "stern." The stern designs on Roman ships varied widely based on their use and place of origin. Some ships featured very ornate sterns to match their bows; other ships had a very plain stern without any embellishment. You can create a flat back wall by simply gluing together Popsicle sticks as you did for the base and sides of your ship. If you wish to have an ornate stern, simply create a second triangular section to match the bow design in Step 8. Once your stern has dried, you can affix it directly to the back of the ship base to complete the body of the ship.

  10. Create a sail for your ship. Larger ships sometimes featured two sails, while smaller ships would usually suffice with a single sail. Create a simple sail for your ship by making an "L" shape out of two Popsicle sticks. Glue a section of cling film, aluminium foil, construction paper or newspaper into the triangle shape to serve as the material for your sail. Once the sail material has dried you can use your scissors to cut away any excess material for a cleaner looking sail. Glue the sail directly to the top section of your ship by anchoring the leg of the "L" shape to the floor of top section. You may want to lay the ship on its side while the sail dries to avoid it drooping at an unusual angle. Once the sail has dried you can add final embellishment with paint, markers and other craft supplies that may be available.

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Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Sail material (Cling film, aluminium foil, construction paper or newspaper)
  • Decorative materials (optional)

About the Author

Jacob Stover is a writer and editor from Ann Arbor. He has been writing professionally since 2009. His work has been published in the "Wayne State University Literary Review." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and film studies from Wayne State University.

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