Making a paper boat is a fun and easy craft that can provide hours of entertainment. Floating paper boats in ponds, rivers or even a puddle after a rainstorm is an enjoyable activity for both kids and adults. With just a single sheet of paper, you can create your own mini paper boat fleet for sailing and racing.
In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to make a basic paper boat using common household materials. By following the instructions, you’ll be able to fold a paper boat in just a few minutes. Then it’s time to set it afloat! Let’s get started.
- One standard 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper (printer paper, construction paper, or scrapbook paper will all work)
- Scissors or craft knife
- Decorating supplies (markers, stickers, etc. optional)
- Large bowl or sink filled with water for floating your finished boats
Step 1 – Cut and Fold the Paper
Take your 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper and use the scissors to cut it in half lengthwise. This will give you two long skinny strips of paper, each 5.5 inches wide.
Next, take one of the strips and hold it vertically in front of you. Fold the top right corner down diagonally so that the tip meets the left side, forming a triangle. Sharpen the crease with your fingernail.
Step 2 – Create the First Folds
With the paper folded diagonally into a triangle, open it back up. Take the top point of the triangle and fold it down to meet the bottom edge of the long side.
Next, take the angled bottom edge and fold it up until it meets the horizontal top edge. You’ll be left with a trapezoid shape.
Step 3 – Flip Over and Fold Again
Now, flip the folded paper over to the other side.
Fold the angled edge that is pointing left inwards along the crease until it meets the right edge. Then take the bottom flap and fold it upwards.
When done, flip it over again to return to the first side.
Step 4 – Form the Pocket and Adjust
You now have the basic folded “pocket” that will form the boat.
Gently open up the pocket and flatten the bottom folds to form a triangle. This will be the bottom of the boat.
Finally, sharpen and reinforce the creases along the folds and edges. This will ensure your boat holds its shape when set in the water.
Step 5 – Prepare to Set Sail!
Your paper boat is ready for its maiden voyage!
First, consider decorating your boat before setting it in the water. Kids can color designs or patterns using crayons or markers. Stickers, tape and other decorations can also help personalize boats.
Next, head over to a sink, tub or pond. Gently set the boat in the water, allowing the front tip to get wet first. The water will creep up the folds and your boat should float.
If it immediately tips over, reinforce the creases and try again. Your buoyant boat is now ready for sailing!
Tips and Tricks
Making paper boats does require some finessing of folds and creases. Here are some helpful tips:
- Use firmer paper stock like cardstock or construction paper for best results. The stiffness helps the boat keep its shape.
- Run your fingernail over the major folds to sharpen the creases. This helps the paper “memory” so folds stay in place.
- To waterproof your boat, brush a layer decoupage glue on the exterior. Or apply packing tape over the surface.
- Experiment with different fold styles and sizes. Bigger sheets make larger boats for floating multiple toy passengers.
Fun Ways to Use Your Paper Boats
Once you’ve mastered the basic folding technique, there are lots of fun ways to use your finished paper boats:
- Have races – who can blow their boat across the tub fastest using a straw?
- Use as science experiments to test materials like wax paper, foil, etc. What floats best?
- Cruise along sand and dirt “rivers” made after a rainstorm. Can you navigate the puddles successfully?
- Float a small action figure or doll and create imaginative adventure stories.
- Add weights like coins or pebbles to see how heavy of a load your boat can carry.
Keep Your Boating Skills Sharp
Making paper boats is a nostalgic craft that’s been enjoyed for generations. Follow the steps to make your first one and before long you’ll be folding up a fleet. It’s an activity kids never seem to tire of.
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Why not organize a paper boat making and floating session for a children’s group, school classroom, or at your next family gathering? The fun of racing boats and trying out new decorative designs will entertain everyone.
With a simple sheet of paper, you can set sail on imaginary adventures and enjoy some old-fashioned fun. Just shift your creativity and engineering skills into high gear. Bon voyage!