October 06, 2010

Tutorial: Ships in a Bottle (Christopher Columbus Activity)

ship in bottle To go a long with our Christopher Columbus unit of study, we made these Ships in a Bottle.

First collect the following supplies:

  • 2-liter soda bottle
  • electrical tape, or narrow colored tape
  • A cutting tool - box cutter or scissors
  • Adhesive – hot glue or double sided tape
  • Blue paper, foam sheet, or confetti
  • Ship printable (free to download)
  • cardstock
  • Any ribbon, buttons or other embellishments (optional)

prepare bottle

Then Prepare Your Bottle: Rinse your bottle well and remove wrapper. Using a cutting tool, cut around the empty soda bottle about  2 to 2 1/2 inches from the bottom. Then rinse out your bottle and remove the wrapper from the outside.  Follow with a thorough drying.

prepare boats

Next Prepare Your Ships: Print out your Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria Ships onto cardstock. Cut out around the basic shape of each ship, then fold along the dotted line.

arrange your boats

Decorate the Inside: Arrange your ships. Glue your ship flaps to the bottom of your bottle.  Hold until set. Once your ships are set add your “water”.  We used blue confetti from the dollar store since our paper shredder is still packed.  You can cut out wave shapes from sheet foam or construction paper. Use your creativity – anything blue would probably work well.


Finally Close Your Bottle and Customize:  Using tape, attach the part of the bottle that you previously cut off.  Try to do this neatly.  To complete the look add another band of tape to the bottle lid as well. To prevent your bottle from rolling around, you can glue strips of foam, thick paper, popsicle sticks or whatever to the bottom.  We used some sheet foam.  We also added a band of ribbon we had on hand and it really added to the design.  To finish off your project add the label to your bottle.

This project went very quickly.  It was easily finished in 25 minutes which included the children cutting and arranging everything. It was a fun project!


  1. OOOOOhhhh ... Ahhhhhhh - I love this!

    Thanks so much for sharing this fabulous idea! We'll be studying Columbus later this year, and I just may have to do this one! ;)

  2. What a great idea! I'm going to include a link to this on my Field Trip Friday post this week as a follow-up activity idea. It will be perfect since we saw replicas of the Nina and Pinta. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks ladies! It was fun! I can't wait to read about your trip! It sounds wonderful!

  4. This is so cool! What a creative way to study Columbus!

  5. My kids are going to LOVE this! Doubly so because now we have to buy soda to have a bottle. ☺

  6. We needed two soda bottles and were sick of drinking soda to get them empty. We are not regular soda drinkers either. It will be quite a while before we do that again. :P

  7. Yea!! We did your project this week! It was great!! Thanks so much, Dana!! :)

  8. how i can make a ship model with paper?
    can u help me
    wednesday is my last project submit day


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