Mayflower Craft Tutorial: a different sort of Thanksgiving Craft

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Mayflower Tutorial DIY

It seems like every year, my kids and I make turkey crafts around Thanksgiving time. I think I’ve just hit a wall with the hand turkeys or maybe I’m just feeling ambitious, but I decided this year? We’re so making a Mayflower. I looked online for inspiration, but couldn’t find exactly what I wanted to create, so I made up my own plan of attack.

This craft came out surprisingly well, wasn’t too expensive or tricky to make. Given that, I thought I should share this brief tutorial with you!

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 Styrofoam block 2″ x 4″ x 12″ – I found this at Hobby Lobby for $2.99, but you’d likely find a similar size at another craft store. Or, you could roughly cut a piece of styrofoam into this size. It doesn’t have to be these exact dimensions – any decent rectangular size should do!
  • Thin crafting dowels. You could also use bamboo skewers or other similar sticks you have on hand.
  • Thin crafting sticks. You could also use take out chopsticks.
  • Fabric remnant of some sort for the sails.
  • Hot glue gun.
  • Construction paper.
  • Googly eyes (optional – but not really).
  • Scissors

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Hobby Lobby was selling these packs of crafting sticks and dowels for about $2.47 a package. I know we’ll put the extras to use, so that’s what we went with. I would imagine any number of crafting stores would sell something similar!

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I knew I wanted fabric for the sails on my Mayflower, so I poked around the clearance near the fabric section of my Hobby Lobby and found this remnant for $1.19. Of course, you could also cut up an old t-shirt, canvas bag, sheet, or other light-weight material you have on hand.

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For my ship, I decided I wanted three masts with two sails on each. The top sail would be slightly smaller than the bottom sale on each mast. To do this, I made a trapezoid shape using a 3×5 index card and traced it three times onto the fabric.  Then, I made a slightly bigger stencil in and traced it three times on the fabric.


This next part might seem tricky, but I assure you its not! Basically, you are going to hot glue the smaller crafting sticks on each of your sails as pictured above – one on top and one on the bottom. I cut some of the sticks to size a bit (regular old scissors cut through them just fine). After allowing the sticks to dry on the fabric for a couple minutes, I glued the sails to the masts. I did this by curling the sticks under, so only the fabric would appear from the front (as pictured in the lower bottom right image above).

Finally, I cut some triangles out of brightly colored construction paper and glued those on the top. To keep the flags on secure, I cut the paper flags so they’d fold around the dowel.

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After allowing the masts to dry for a few minutes, I gently inserted them into the styrafoam. While they definitely seemed sturdy as is, I added a bit more hot glue for good measure.

Next I began wrapping the ship with brown construction paper. I found the 12X12 sizes of scrapbook paper worked PERFECT for this as the length of the styrafoam piece I purchased was also 12″! I started by cutting a strip for the bow of the boat, folding it in half, and hot gluing it into place.

DSCN2530 (800x600)Next, I glued the strips onto the sides and then finally, the back.

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Here is the ship with the sides in place and the masts up! While this might look like a lot of work, I’d say I had this took about 20 minutes by this point. If you wanted, you could end the craft here. But of course, I didn’t.

DSCN2535 (527x800)We decided to add pilgrims! Much of the Mayflower construction was honestly beyond my kids, so this was the perfect way to include them in this craft. I just cut out a basic “gingerbread man” style person in construction paper and let my kids color and decorate them. Another fun idea would be to cut out pictures of your family and place them on the heads!

Then, I hot glued a stick onto the back of each of them and added them into the styrafoam. We ended up making 4 pilgrim men and 4 pilgrim women total to fill out our ship.

DSCN2545 (800x600)Historically accurate? Meh… probably not. But adorable, nonetheless.

DSCN2544 (642x800)I wasn’t a fan of the styrafoam showing, so I covered it with a bit of raffia I just happen to have on hand. You could cover with construction paper or another similar material if this bugs you too.

So there you have it! I spent about $10 out of pocket for this craft and under an hour’s time. I’ll be happy to display this fun centerpiece on my table. Now my son is begging to make a diorama of the “new world” complete with Native Americans. Oh boy… we’ll see if I have any more crafting energy after this one!

Feel free to leave a comment if you have any ideas on how to improve this craft or change it up in some way. Stay tuned for more fun Thanksgiving crafts you can make with your kids!