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How to make a paper boat step-by-step

Ahoy there! Do your kids dream of sailing the seven seas? Fuel their imaginations with this easy-to-follow picture guide on how to make paper boats.

Does your child dream of sailing the seven seas? Help fuel their imagination with this step-by-step guide on how to make a paper boat.

All you need to make paper boats for kids is a piece of paper and materials for decorating. Kids can use crayons, pens, and paints to craft their own pirate ship or fleet of battle ships. Before you know it, they’ll be playing captain in their very own sea adventures.  

How to fold a paper boat: picture guide

The picture guide below should make it easy to explain how to make a boat out of paper to kids – just ask them to carefully follow each step and fold where shown. Click here to download the full-size step-by-step picture guide. It might be best to try one out yourself first – once you’ve got the hang of it you can help your child fold their own paper boat. To start, you’ll need a rectangular piece of paper. A sheet of A4 is ideal.


Click here to download and print.

How to make a paper boat: step-by-step instructions

Making a paper boat can seem tricky, so it’s good to have some written instructions to follow alongside the pictures.

  1. Lay out a rectangular piece of paper. If you are using patterned or printed paper, begin with the decorated side facing up so it will show on the outside of the boat
  2. Fold the sheet of paper in half from top to bottom to create a horizontal crease in the middle – the non-patterned side of your paper should now be visible
  3. Fold the top corners in towards the middle so that they meet. Leave 1-2 inches of space at the bottom. You should now have a triangle shape
  4. Fold the flaps at the bottom of the triangle shape up on both sides
  5. Pop out the middle to make a hat shape
  6. Using your fingers, open the hat shape out even more until it forms a square. Tuck the corners of one flap under the other
  7. Fold up the bottom flaps of the square on both sides so you are left with a triangle shape
  8. Pull out the middle of the triangle to form a square
  9. Pull out the middle of the square
  10. Press the shape flat
  11. Open out from the bottom to assemble your boat shape
  12. Ta-da! You now have a paper boat which your kids can decorate however they like!

Ideas for decorating paper boats for kids

  • Mast and bunting – create a mast for your boat using a wooden skewer, then cut small triangles out of coloured paper and attach to white string using sticky tape or glue. Secure your bunting to the mast and sides of the boat.
  • Pirate ship – as above, create a mast for your boat, then get your child to draw their very own pirate flag and secure this to the mast with some string. Add other details such as port holes to the side of the ship or a plank for rogue seafarers! If your kids are mad about pirates, we’ve got plenty more ideas on pirate crafts and games here.
  • Bubble paint – a classic kids’ art activity, bubble painting is fun and simple to do. To give your paper boat a bubble print effect: mix some paint, washing up liquid, and water in a cup (be sure to use non-toxic paints for this activity). Blow into the mixture using a straw, until bubbles overfill the top of the cup but don’t cause the paint to drip down the sides. Gently place a sheet of paper over the bubbles so that they leave an imprint behind. Repeat with different colours of paint and leave to dry before folding the paper into a boat. You may want to protect your table or work surface by putting some old newspaper or an old table cloth under the cup of paints.

How to make a paper boat

Remember – always supervise your kids when using scissors, glue, or paint, and read all instructions before starting a craft or game. For any stains that happen in the process, check out our articles on removing glue and paint stains.

Now you and your kids know how to make paper boats, the dreams of your budding sailors or pirates can be brought to life with just some paper and imaginative thinking! Give it a try and let us know how you got on in a comment below.