How To Make A Viking Longboat Model With Kids

A miniature model Viking longboat with the Norwegian flag as the sails.
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Image © dassel, under a Creative Commons license.

If your kids are learning all about the Vikings this term and you're keen to get involved, Kidadl are here to help.

Perhaps start with a basic Viking timeline and then jump into one of the most iconic parts of the period - the Viking longboats. Viking longships were an incredible feat of design and engineering: they were double-ended for manoeuvrability, utilised both oarsmen and sails for speed and easy navigation and, most famously, displayed a decorative head piece to strike fear into the hearts of their enemies.

Why not bring this amazing Viking longboat to life with our easy guide to cut and construct a Viking ship model? Learning how to make a Viking ship will develop kids' creative talents whilst sparking fascinating discussions about the Viking period in history - what's not to love?

Young boy wearing a Viking helmet on his head smiling.
Image © melly17, under a Creative Commons license.

Supplies

To make a Viking boat, the perfect school project, you will need:

Scissors, craft knife.

Glue, tape.

Cardboard or cereal box.

Coloured card or felt.

Split pins.

Cocktail sticks.

A bamboo kebab skewer.

Paint or felt tips.

Step 1 - Prepare The Pieces

First, you'll need to cut sections out of cardboard to make a Viking ship. You can find some great templates online that will allow you to print or trace the shapes you'll need and help you get the right sizes and proportions. But as a guide, you'll need:

A long, thin-ish rectangular base with a pointed triangle at each end.

Two long strips of card, roughly as wide as your base, which will form the sides - don't forget to make them long enough to fold around the pointed ends.

Cardboard strips a few centimetres wider then the base to make the seats (the amount you need will vary depending on how long you've made your boat).

Cardboard paddle shapes to make the oars (the amount you need will vary depending on how long you've made your boat).

Step 2 - Construct The Viking Ship

Now you have the basic cardboard elements you need, it's time to make a Viking ship! It's easier to use tape for the construction, but we recommend a sturdy tape like duct tape, rather than the normal clear sellotape you'd use for wrapping presents. If you can get hold of a patterned or coloured duct tape, even better.

Take each side piece, and make a fold at each end - you want both pieces to be the same. When the folded sections on each side meet each other, it will make the triangular pointed ends of the Viking boat. Once you have them aligned, stick them together with duct tape (you'll probably need more than one pair of hands for this!)

Then stick the base to the bottom, using duct tape along the edges to secure.

Dad and young daughter sat at the table using paper to make a Viking longboat model.
Image © pressfoto, freepik.com, under a Creative Commons license.

Step 3 - The Head And Tail

Now it's time to make the intimidating dragon head!

Draw the outline of a head from the side onto cardboard: it needs an ear, large snout and long neck. You also need to include a bit of chest and body, enough to create a tab which you can secure to the ship. Then carefully cut the shape out. You can use scissors, but as it has some fiddly elements, it may be easier to use a craft knife (make sure an adult does this part). Then trace around it onto another piece of card and cut out to create two identical dragon heads.

Repeat the process to make the tail. Draw an outline, you could make it curled or pointy, and cut it out, remembering again to leave an extra tab to allow you to secure the tail to the ship. Trace and cut the second tail.

Now glue the two head pieces together, and the two tail pieces together, leaving the tabs at the bottom unglued.

Finally, glue the head to the front of the Viking ship, and tail to the back, using the tabs.

Step 4 - The Seats

Take your cardboard seat strips and fold each end to make a tab. Put some glue onto each tab and secure them inside the Viking ship. Make sure you space the seats out evenly all the way down the length of the boat.

Step 5 - The Sail

You can use coloured card or felt to make the sail. Cut a large rectangle of your chosen material and ask kids to decorate it. They could choose the famous red and white stripes, or use their imaginations to create a pattern of their choice.

Once the sail is ready, poke a small hole on each side and push the kebab skewer through them. Push the sides towards each other a little to give the sail shape, like it's catching the wind, and secure with tape.  

Poke another small hole through the middle seat inside the ship, and push the skewer through. Secure either with a strong glue (like superglue or using a glue gun) or with some more tape.  

Family looking at how to make a model Viking longboat.
Image ©  bearfotos, freepik.com, under a Creative Commons license.

Step 6 - Viking Shields

Cut some circles of coloured card, a little smaller than the depth of the side of your Viking longship. These will be the shields which kids can decorate, either by looking up pictures of traditional Viking shields and copying them, or just by using their imaginations.

Poke a hole in the middle of the first shield and poke a corresponding hole in the side of the ship. Fasten the shield to the side using a split pin. Repeat all the way down each side of the Viking longship.  

Step 7 - The Oars

Glue or tape a cocktail stick onto each cardboard paddle shape to create an oar (if you're using thick corrugated cardboard instead of a cereal box, you might even just be able to poke the stick inside).

Then poke each stick into your Viking boat, making sure they're evenly spaced down each side.

Step 8 - Decorate

Let kids add those all-important final details to their Viking longship. They can use pens or paints to give the dragon some character, and decorate the sides of the ship to create a longboat Vikings would be proud of.  

Top tip: Why not challenge yourself to make your longship float on water? Cover the base with duct tape to make it a little more waterproof, then secure some floats (you could try corks or empty water bottles) and you're ready to sail!  

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

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