Prepared by Debra Tidball.

If you can’t go sailing on the high seas, then the next best thing is to pretend – and here’s a craft that will allow wanna-be sailors to do just that! It’s a rocking paper-plate boat, based on Tug, a character from my latest picture book, Anchored, illustrated by Arielle Li and published by EK Books. Of course, Tug in the story is a harbour tug, so not actually suited to the high seas, but close enough (and I won’t tell if you don’t). The picture below is what we’re aiming for:

Tug boat craft

And here are the step-by step instructions:

Tug craft materials

You will need:

Paper plates (I’ve modelled this on ’20 Paper SIDE plates’ from Woolworths, ie. small plates).

Pipe cleaners

Cut up bits of blue paper (I’ve used tissue paper)




  1. Fold paper plate in half and using scissors, snip a slit in the middle at the fold. Put a knot in one end of the pipe cleaner.

2. Thread the pipe cleaner through the slit in the plate, with the knot on the underside anchoring it.

3. Cut a piece of paper with the dimensions as shown for small plate (near enough is good enough!). Adjust for larger plate sizes.

4. Cut a small snip in the middle of the folded edge for the pipe cleaner to fit through. Snip off each side of the paper diagonally from the bottom edge to roughly 2cm at the top (folded edge).

5. Thread the paper onto the pipe cleaner. (You may need to trim your pipe cleaner to the desired length so it’s not too long and wobbly).

6. Adjust the paper along the top edge of the plate.

7. Paste the lower edge of each side of the paper to the folded plate.

8. Paste cut up bits of paper around the edge for the sea and colour the body of the tug with red paint/texta/pencils/crayons. Optional: colour the sea with paint/crayons etc. Stick on fish shapes/stickers.

9. Finish with details – I’ve used black texta for eyes, mouth and tyre rings, and pasted a bit of folded paper at the top of the pipe cleaner for a flag. You can use your imagination or whatever you have at hand!

Now you’re ready to sail!

The idea for a paper plate boat came from this website: . I’ve built on this idea to make a tug boat.

I hope you enjoy making your very own Tug!

For other craft ideas and activity pages, visit my website

You can also follow me on

Instagram: debra_tidball

Facebook: debratidballpage

Twitter: @debratidball

For further curriculum notes and teaching ideas for Anchored, please visit the EK Books webpage here.

To read Debra Tidball’s interview about Anchored, please read it The Quick Six Interview here.

To read the interview with Debra Tidball and Arielle Li, please find it at A Special Bond.

#anchored #connectedness #picturebooks

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