Join the conversation


Cardboard Toys “make it more piratey mom”

I love cardboard toys, toys you can make with or for your kids. This new ‘make a pirate ship’ project started out as a simple enough idea – a boat for Molly to play out her Pirate Captain & Crew adventures on – and of course, as always, I got carried away with the detail. Two evenings later, covered in glue and paint, the ship was pushed down the slipway and launched with no great fanfair! no champagne and cheering crowds, just a glass of orange juice and a cocktail sausage!

The pirate ship could of course have been a hollowed out milk carton with a lollipop stick but I wanted to create something Molly would engage with for even longer.

She loves it, played with it for hours yesterday, and because it’s not the archetypal black with skull and crossbone pirate ship she thought it ok to welcome a group of giddy Polly Pockets onboard for a spin around the bay too. Result.

I found her under the kitchen chair at one stage…. the pirates secret lair.

A happy little person, fuelled by her own imagination
…and all it cost me was my time :)

Read on to see all the step by step photos & the free hull template


I used a flexicurve to draw the sides, base and stern on mounting board

Mounting board cutting complete, my knuckles hurt.

I used the glue gun and masking tape to mold & hold the template together

Next step – used the stick from one of Molly’s pinwheels for the mast and flagpole (don’t tell) and gave the hull one layer of papier-mache

Molly painted the hull – with some matt wall emulsion

The sail plan. I used some screenprinted wool felt for colour drama! punched the holes with a normal desk paper punch, and tied to craftstick crossbars

The Bow – gotta have some buttons :)

and when she was gone to bed I added some more detail – cardboard portholes, dents made with a matchstick (in truth they covered up & tidied up the edges!)



The Wheel – very important for steering away from craggy shores… (cardboard & matchsticks)


happy person, fuelled by her own imagination – and all it cost me was my time :)


click here for the free downloadable ship pattern


This craft was inspired by our Easter cinema outing to see the brilliant “Pirates In an Adventure with Scientists Band of Misfits” movie xx




Daily Creative Inspiration….

Like this idea?  You can always find other fun craft ideas for kids on PinterestFacebook and Instagram. Or subscribe for email updates so you don’t miss out any of the fun.

52 Responses to “Cardboard Toys “make it more piratey mom””

  1. I saw this on Pinterest and loved it!!! I am going to have to try to make one for my daughter when she is older! Thanks for sharing!

  2. […] MollyMoo Pirate Ship […]

  3. mollymoo says:

    Hi Kimberly, delighted to hear from you. I’m having an enjoyable morning combing through your fabulous blog :)

  4. mollymoo says:

    Hello my friend – Land Ho!!

  5. Wow! That looks absolutely fantastic! Love the sails, and love love love the button detail! :)

  6. mollymoo says:

    eeeeeee love your comment :) thank you so much fellow button fan.

  7. Thanks for checking out my blog, I am just starting out with it. Yours is much much better! I subscribed so I can keep up with all of your cool projects! :o)

  8. dorashaffer says:

    How can I get the pattern to make your boat? My son would love to make it today!

  9. mollymoo says:

    Oh – it was a bit of a freehand job, created with a flexicurve and ruler – but there’s a little boy who NEEDS to make a boat so if you bear with me for a few days I’ll draw up a new one and email the blueprint to you. Tell him you have emailed the ‘boatmaker’ and she’s sending him special plans, designed just for him. All I ask is that you come back and share a picture of his boat :)

  10. mollymoo says:

    I’m so flattered, and I LOVE the name of your blog.

  11. Oh sweet Molly Moo— I’d love a copy of a boat template as well— I suddenly have grand plans to make a 3-foot version, and would love a jumping-off point. I promise you– if the 3-foot version works the way I want it to, I’ll email you all about it! :)

  12. […] just “met” Michelle, of Molly Moo, and her blog is a real treat. I’m currently ogling the astounding little pirate ship she […]

  13. louise says:

    This is just great! My son is obsessed with pirate everything! Love it!

  14. bigmouthmom says:

    So cute! For sure will be doing this with my boys, they loooove pirates!

  15. Penny says:

    Love the ship, and love that your daughter enjoys pirates!

  16. […] Projects done with kids is a great way to spend time and initiate the next generation into the joy of creating and recycling. Check out the awesome tutorial Michelle of the blog Mollymoo shared on how to make a recycled material pirate ship toy. […]

  17. Abbi says:

    Well done! I am sure most any kid would love playing with that. It is fun to make things for your kids and then watch them totally enjoy the fruit of your labor. I can think of two recycled projects that I (with some child help as well) made that have been played with for years. We made a pioneer set with clothespin dolls, cardboard house, covered wagon, wood cook stove and popsicle stick beds and such and then we made a cardboard barbie house with details using all sorts of recycleables. Not only did we have a wonderful time creating but they have enjoyed them ever since.

  18. Amazing job! I’d love it if you’d drop by my international crafty linky party and share, always looking for some quality crafters like you to join the party! hope to see you there!

  19. Michael Moras says:

    Hi! We’re expecting our first little boy and for the baby shower, I was looking for some cool ideas to make a pirate ship. I saw your creation and was inspired by the nice little details. After a week of hard work, I finished my version and thought it would be nice to share it with you:

    Like you can see, the ship is a bit taller than yours, this because we need a lot of space on the base of the ship to put small pirate chests with little chocolates in it :-)

    Greetings and thanks for so many creativity-ideas!

  20. Craftuts says:

    Great tutorial :) We have featured it on our site! Thanks!

  21. adele says:

    wow this is amazing! I wish I was as imaginative!!

  22. […] played with a child who is shattered? He helped me do some paper mâché for a pirate ship ( we’re making but his heart wasn’t in it so I finished it for him. We’ll continue […]

  23. […] right away and make sure to get help from a grown up….you can find out how to build one right here at Molly […]

  24. Carrie says:

    Just wanted to let you know I used your pattern and linked back to you with the ship I made as a birthday gift: Thank you for sharing and inspiring!!

  25. mollymoo says:

    oh so cool Carrie, eleventybillion thanks for sharing the very fine vessel :) I hope the birthday boy appreciated all your hard work!

  26. Eftychia says:

    OMG this is amazing!!!!!

  27. […] (mostly) following the instructions and pattern pieces found over on Molly Moo. This morning we (I) built the ship with a large boot shoe box and masking tape.  Then together we […]

  28. […] night to paper mache it, and I think it definitely started my love of making things and crafts. So this pirate ship project definitely brings back fond memories for me and I’m sure plenty of kids would love […]

  29. […] night to paper mache it, and I think it definitely started my love of making things and crafts. So this pirate ship project definitely brings back fond memories for me and I’m sure plenty of kids would love […]

  30. The Monko says:

    thats really lovely. The sails are so pretty

  31. Carol says:

    Hi Molly,can i have a copy of a boat template as well. Thanks so much…

  32. imakehens says:

    Hi Carol – just click on this link

  33. Emily Sevenz says:

    I am planning a pirate themed birthday for my daughter and I cam across this awesome boat! I am making one for each kid attending and leaving the sails undone so they can paint them during the party and take them home as gifts. They will also double as centerpieces. I am so excited. I am also thinking about using them in the classroom when I teach about explorers. So fun! Thanks for the blog.

  34. Lisa says:

    This is incredible!
    Thanks for the great tutorial

  35. imakehens says:

    Thank you so much for your ‘incredible’ comment Lisa, you’ve made my morning xx

  36. becca says:

    thanks for the pattern its great. i used it for a school history project ;)

  37. minipouce says:

    EXTRA !!!! thanks a lot, it’s wonderfull.
    Mon fils va adorer, merci beaucoup pour le partage

  38. Zuzana says:

    Hi Molly, just to let you know we found your post really helpful. One of my son’s homework assignment was to build a ship and we followed your tutorial. So your ship has been built in Slovakia too:) It was sooooo useful, thnx.

  39. […] trip to the cinema to see the latest Tinkerbell & The Pirate Fairy story I decided to make another pirate ship – a ship that was possible to make within one hour, with no papier mache or […]

  40. Michelle says:

    I love hearing that, Slovakian Pirates xx

    I’ve just published a new Pirate Ship craft – no papier mache, no painting :)

  41. Carolina says:

    I’m doing one real size for Davi’s 2nd Birthday Party! We’ll have a Pirate Picnic :) Thanks for sharing!

  42. Karthika says:

    Wow. That’s awesome. My 5 year old daughter wants to make the ship for her teddy’s. Thank you.

  43. Marne says:

    And here I was looking for a playmobile one used… I love it!

  44. Michelle says:

    tee hee Marne, you’ll never look at a cardboard box the same way again :)

  45. Marne says:

    Made one for my daughter’s birthday – thanks for the inspiration! So much better than plastic! Love showing my kids that fun is made and not purchased! I would love to send you a photo but could not post one here.

  46. Michelle says:

    Oh wow Marne, so delighted to hear that. Please post a pic to my facebook page

    Many thanks

  47. My son would be happy to build such ship. It looks great

  48. Jeanine says:

    Wow! I juuuust saw this NOW? Where has this been all my life! Off to buy some dowels this afternoon! Thanks for SOO many inspirational shares

Leave a Reply


My Instagrams

Join the fun with hashtags

I'm a craft writer for

Featured On:

badge-craft-gossip badge-craftgawker
afkc_featured_on badge-crafty-crow
badge-small-for-big badge-colour-me-there

Anorak Magazine
Handmade Christmas Magazine
Sunday Telegraph UK, ST Kids Magazine
Irish Country Magazine
Homespun Magazine
Zero to Two: Book of Play
Handmade Winter


MollyMooCrafts is filled with creative DIY projects for children and their moms, craft tutorials, handmade toys, handmade gifts, decor ideas, everything I love and much much more!
Follow me on