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Make a Pirate Ship and Sailboat from Recycled Milk Cartons

Ahoy there, mateys! With just a few recycled objects from your home, you can build and sail a pirate ship and a sailboat of your own!

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Average Rating:
Participant Age: 7 to 12, Under 7
Approximate Cost: Under $10
Duration: 1 to 60 minutes
Difficulty:
Physical Challenge:
  • Plastic bottle cap (for the sailboat)
  • Lightweight cardboard (for the sailboat)
  • Clean, empty milk carton
  • Modeling clay
  • Glue
  • Craft paint
  • Paper towel tube
  • Drinking straws
  • Tape
For the Pirate Ship:
  1. Lay the milk carton on its side. Using scissors, carefully cut off the entire top piece and discard. Tape the spout closed so it looks like the bow of a boat.
  2. Paint and decorate the inside and outside of the carton.
  3. For the sails, cut out two rectangles from the paper towel tube. Paint a skull and crossbones on each one, as shown, or add any other design you like.
  4. For the flags, cut out two triangles from the leftover paper towel tube and then paint them.
  5. Tape or glue a sail and flag to each straw.
  6. Place some modeling clay around the bottom of each straw. Press down to "glue" the straw masts in the carton so they're standing upright.

pirate ship by mark godfrey

For the Sailboat:
  1. Follow steps 1, 2, and 4 above. 
  2. For the sails, cut two triangles from lightweight cardboard. Paint as shown, or add any other design you like.
  3. Tape or glue the sails and a flag to the straw.
  4. Follow step 6 above.
  5. Paint a plastic bottle cap to look like a life preserver. Once dry, glue to the side of your boat.

sailboat by mark godfrey


Craft by Michele Reyzer; photos by Mark Godfrey.

This activity originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Ranger Rick magazine.

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