Make a Viking Ship

My Reid(8) who is in third grade has been studying Vikings and one of the “enrichment ideas” sent home from school was to make a Viking Longship.

viking longship craftReid has been obsessed with completing this, but over the last few weeks there has been little time available for cardboard boat building.

This weekend we finally had some time and he brought out the instructions sent home which were very good.   We modified them a bit so he could produce this nautical masterpiece.

How to Make a Viking Ship

  1. How to Make a viking shipWe started with a self-folding cardboard box.   It is the type of box that you might use for a gift.   My thought was if we could use some of the box intact, it might decrease the need for glue and staples and help the end stability.
  2. I cut off two of the top flaps and the opposite two bottom flaps.
  3. Two of the corners were pushed together and then the remaining flaps were stapled together so the “boat” form would be created.
  4. All the extra flap material that wasn’t needed was trimmed.   I left the bottom covered for the base of the boat and a bit on the bow to leave a place for the dragon head to be attached.   One band across the middle was left to attach the mast.
  5. The middle band was punctured with a sharp object and a skewer was used as the mast.   We experimented with several different objects like straws and cardboard to see what would work the best, but the wooden skewer seemed to be the answer.
  6. Some of the extra cardboard was folded over so that a dragon head was cut out.   A flap was left at the bottom so that it formed a triangle at the base of the dragon neck which could be attached and unattached* to the prow.
  7. Another long piece of cardboard was folded over and trimmed so that it could be used to attach the sail to the mast.   The sail was made out of 2 pieces of regular white printer paper and stapled inside this long piece of cardboard and set onto the mast.
  8. Let the Viking Longship painting ensue!
  9. Reid used brown paint for the ship, striped the sail with red and painted red medallions to decorate the Viking Ship.
  10. Now, pose nicely for your mother so she can take a proper picture of your project:

Viking Longship craftThat is what you get when you ask an 8 year old boy to stand still and smile.

This was a really fun project that we did together.   It took an hour or so, but was spread out since we were awaiting paint to dry.   I found that using staples was much faster and more effective than glue on this heavy cardboard.   It was also great that I had a VERY heavy pair of scissors which made cutting through the material a breeze.

If you are studying Vikings, we highly recommend reading Leif the Lucky by Ingri & Edgar Parin D’Aulaire.   It has inspirational artwork and a story that all of my boys enjoy.   It is the perfect mix of history and good story-telling.   We use The Story of the World for history and the time surrounding the Vikings is told in Volume 2 by Susan Wise Bauer.

*One of the boys’ favorite parts in Leif the Lucky explains how the Vikings believed that the dragon head could only be seen by the sea spirits and if the land spirits saw the dragon head, they would be angered.   It was a very important task to remove the dragon head from the longship prow as soon as land was spotted to keep the land spirits happy.


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