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Another Big Learning Craft Stick Project...

Model Sailboat

This ship-shape little sailboat is a snap to make. Kids will love how fast it comes together and how sturdy the finished product is.

Big Learning  What's Big Learning?

Vocabulary: Sailboat vocabulary is useful for this project - your child can say "boom" instead of "that thing that sticks out from the mast." See the labeled photographs below.

Math: Use the word "perpendicular" to describe the angle of the mast to the deck and the angle of the boom to the mast. Also, your child can practice measuring to the quarter-inch and learn about fractions - see tips on fractions and measurement.

Science: See the seaworthiness notes at the end of the project. Experimenting with the boat to make it sail and stay afloat will help your child develop intuitions about what makes objects float and balance and how sails work.

Engineering: Your child will learn to brace the mast to keep it from breaking off the deck.


craft stick toy sailboat - children's woodworking project

Sailboat Project


Sailboat Vocabulary: Mast, Boom and Deck; Bow, stern, port side (on your left when facing front) and starboard side (right facing front).


To make this project you will need:

7 large craft sticks (3/4 inches wide by 6 inches long)
A plastic shopping bag
Acrylic craft paint

Hot glue gun and glue
Wire cutter with at least a 3/4-inch blade (for cutting craft sticks - see cutting tips)


Whenever you cut a craft stick, sand the ends by rubbing on piece of sandpaper. This will greatly improve the look of the finished product.

Before beginning this project, see the seaworthiness notes at the end of the project if you plan to use the boat in water.


Lay out three craft sticks to form the deck (shown below in yellow). With a pencil and ruler, draw diagonal lines at the bow and then cut the two outside pieces so they form a pointy shape as shown below.

model sailboat deck

Cut two cross-pieces (the dark blue strips on the right and left ends of the boat in the above photo) from a craft stick, each 2-1/4 inches long (equal to the width of the three craft sticks.

Glue them across the deck to make a panel and hold the deck together. The cross piece at the back also hides the uncut ends of the craft sticks.


Cut the end off a craft stick, taking care to make the cut as straight across as possible so the mast will stand up straight (see cutting tips).

Place the cut end in a blob of hot glue at the center of the boat. Use a t-square to check that the mast is at right angles to the deck. Hold the mast straight until the glue sets - 30 seconds to 1 minute.

To make the mast stronger, cut two 1/2 inch pieces of craft stick and glue them to brace the mast as shown in the photo (see perpendicular joints).

model sailboat mast

Boom (the horizontal piece that holds the bottom of the sail)

Measure from the front of the mast to the back of the boat, and cut the boom to the same length, with both ends square. Glue the boom to the mast.


Trace the shape of the mast and boom on a plastic shopping bag and cut out. Glue to the mast and boom.


This boat is just a model meant for dry-land play. But you can make it more seaworthy with the following changes:

1. To waterproof, brush on a sealer such as Mod Podge, or spray on acrylic craft sealer.
2.To keep the boat from tipping over, makea centerboard:cut a two-inch piece of craft stick and glue the cut end under the deck sticking straight down, parallel to the mast.
3. The boom doesn't swing from side to side, so the sail doesn't work as a sail should. To make the boom and sail swing so it can catch a breeze, don't attach the boom directly to the mast. Instead, glue a short piece of wire or pipe cleaner to the mast and glue the boom to the other end of the wire.

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