Milk Carton Boats

Milk Carton Boats

Who was Christopher Columbus? Why did he want to "sail the ocean blue"? What did his explorations uncover? After completing a study of Columbus, my kids and I decided to make our own versions of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria (the three ships that Columbus took along when he set out in 1492).

3 - 7
Est. Time:
<30 mins

How we did it:

Materials List

  1. paint
  2. scissors
  3. craft sticks / popsicle sticks
  4. construction paper
  5. markers
  6. play-dough clay
  1. I have a stash of empty milk cartons squirreled away for craft projects. To start this project, my kids got out a few of the cartons and carefully cut off one of the long sides.

  2. Once you've cut the top off, paint the outside of the carton. (My kids chose brown.) The milk cartons being used here are leftovers from a Sunday School project I'd painted them blue for. My kids had a big laugh as we painted over our last layer of paint. When you're done, give the paint some time to dry before the next step.

  3. Decorate your Popsicle stick (a.k.a. your mast) with markers. This step is obviously optional to anyone but my kids, who took 15 minutes to color many Popsicle stick and excitedly told me what the stickers were going to be. 

  4. Smash some play dough, clay, or other air-dry substance into the bottom of the boat. (I happened to have plaster of Paris on hand, so we used that. All our play dough is currently hard as rock, so I had to improvise. I think play dough or clay would work better because it doesn't set so fast.) After you've smashed it to the bottom, jam in your mast.

  5. Cut out a rectangle for your sail. (If you'd like, you can color in the sail--my kids were too eager to play with their boats to color!) Now glue the sail to your mast.

  6. Have fun playing with your boats! After my kids had played for a while, we reviewed when Columbus came over and what some of the things he brought back from America were.

    Did you know that potatoes and tomatoes are both native to the Americas, not Europe? Imagine Italy without tomatoes, and Ireland without potatoes!