Ahoy! Don’t toss that little plastic water bottle! This simple ship can be put together with supplies laying around any pirate den.
- An empty 8 oz plastic water bottle
- A 4″ x 4″ square of standard white paper
- 2 pennies
- Scissors and tape for construction
- Markers for decorating
Remove the label from the water bottle. I used Poland Springs brand because it has a paper label that comes off easily. There was still some adhesive stuck to the bottle…
But it came off right away with some scotch tape. Press the tape to the adhesive, and then rip it off! Repeat until all the adhesive is gone and you have a nice clean bottle.
Now for the ship! For the step-by-step folding instructions below, I used marbled origami paper to better illustrate the folds. But you can definitely use plain old white paper for your ship. Start with a 4″ x 4″ square of paper.
Now cut the paper in half, forming 2 triangles.
Moving forward, you’ll just be using one of the triangles (give the other to yer shipmate). Orient your triangle like so…
Then fold the lower right point up to the top of the triangle.
Repeat with the left point. Your paper will now look like this:
Then fold the top point down to the base of the triangle like this:
Fold the right point up again…
Then repeat with the left point.
Then gentle push it back down again. This creates the base that props up your ship.
Since you’ll be folding a ship using standard white paper, your ship will of course be all white. Therefore, your next step is to color the base of the ship with markers (and the sails too if you like).
Then turn the ship around and tape two stacked pennies to the base. The pennies are important. Not only do they keep the ship upright, they also anchor the bottle on its side AND act as a counterbalance for the bottle’s cap.
Ready to get that ship in the bottle? Gently fold the base upwards, and curl the sails loosely around it. Try not to pinch the ship too tightly.
Insert the rolled ship through the mouth and neck of the bottle. Use your finger or a pencil to gently unroll the ship and straighten the sails. Twist the cap on your bottle, and you’re done!
This project was a bit hit at a large-scale Treasure Island event we hosted. Even though the origami fold is relatively easy, we folded a fleet of ships in advance for very young children, who were able to jump right into decorating them. We also developed this extremely popular (and inexpensive) pom-pom cannon for another event table.
We had a real cannon too, courtesy of the Pennsylvania State Navy historical reenactors.
These folks were amazing. The history, artifacts, and knowledge they brought to the event were absolutely top rate.
Another amazing educator was this gentleman from the Trenton Old Barracks Museum, who portrayed Dr. Livesey. He brought all of his period medical implements and described them in great detail. And yes, before you ask – he did bring leeches.