How To Make Moana’s Canoe!

Are you ready to get creative!? I want to get this out so you have plenty of time to gather materials and make your own Moana Boats for Halloween for all the little girls who love Moana!

So a few weeks ago, we made Moana’s canoe for our daughters Comic Con cosplay. It was a HUGE hit! We couldn’t go more than a couple feet without everyone stopping us to take pictures.  So here it goes!

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Long pieces of Cardboard
Dark Blue, Light Blue,  and White Tissue Paper
Old Tan XL Tshirt or bed sheet
A Roll of Twine/Thin rope
Acrylic Paint: Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Black, Yellow Ocher, and Titanium White
Paint Brushes: 1 large, 1 Med, and 1 thin for details.
Razor Blade
Heavy Duty Velcro
Glue Stick
Hot Glue
2 Long Thin Fairly Straight Sticks/branches
1 Thick Branch (Longer than the others)
1 small branch
A few wooden Blocks

So this started when my husband bought some Power Ranger Swords from Target and we looked at the boxes and realized they were the perfect length for the canoe. Now if you can get a hold of these long narrow boxes, that is awesome, but if not I’d probably seek out a refrigerator box of some sort. The canoe is made up of 4 pieces that go around all 4 sides and then two small pieces that go on top to keep it clean looking.

These two long panels measure: a total of 55in x 16in including the flaps. Without the flaps it measures 47in x 16in then add 4in flaps on each side to get the total measurement.

From Top to bottom:

Top Left is the front top piece. Measures 17in x 18.5 in. It also includes a round 8 inch cut out. This cut out is there so it makes to easier to pull the wagon around. When laying flat it measures 33in x 12 in including it’s 4 inch flaps on each side. It also has a cut in the middle of the piece to help fold it into it’s triangular shape.

Top Right is the Back top piece: Measures 13in x 20 in. These were the measurements for our boat but honestly, measure and cut them to fit yours so it’s a custom fit. We made both pieces to fit on and into the bottom pieces like a puzzle.

Middle Piece with Turtles: This is the front of your canoe. When it lays flat it measures 33 in x 12 in including it’s 4 inch flaps on each side. It also has a cut in the center of the piece to help it fold into a triangular look.

Bottom Piece: This is the back of your boat. This piece mostly slips under the large side panels so it mostly is unseen minus the point of the canoe. It also has a cut in the center to help it get it’s triangular shape. This piece measures 55in x 11 3/4 in with 4 inch flaps on both sides. You could probably cut this down a little if you wanted to but for us, it helped keep the boat a little more stable as well as give more flat space for the larger panels to connect to.

One thing you’ll notice is that our one side of the long panels line up EXACTLY with the back of the boat. This means the back panel goes underneath the long panels to create the back while the long panels stick out an extra 2 feet ish with the front piece going over the long panel. All of the panels are held with velcro There is velcro on the top bars of our wagon to hold it from falling down, then there is velcro on the cross bars as well as the other cardboard panels to keep everything connected. Use the idea of if the carboard is touching it, add velcro until it’s sturdy. We did not go sparingly on the velcro as we wanted to make sure it was stable for Riley. We also decided to make sure fuzzy sides of velcro are the ones we stuck to the wagon so there’s never anything pokey when it is not in canoe mode.

The next thing we did was work on the sail. We started with two long branches maybe .25 in thick. The longer one being 55 inches and the shorter one being 42 inches. My husband cut a large tshirt we found at Goodwill into a size around 48in x 40 in. I’m not sure on that final length cause it is the one piece of the puzzle we haven’t gotten figured out yet since ours was a little floppy. I’d honestly start with getting your sticks together and then trace the sticks on the fabric to get a more accurate measurement. To try keep it authentic, I used the twine to tie the pieces together. I cut little holes all along the edge of the fabric and tied it to the branches so it was tight. Once it was done, to keep it stable we did a layer of hot glue around each knot. Then I painted the sail on both sides with the swirl. I used the colors Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Red.

Our next problem was that of stability to keep the sail up. We ended up finding a longer and thicker branch that was 61 inches long that we used to tie the sail to as well as keep it in place against the wagon. We set it right in place where the wagon handle rests and placed some of Riley’s wooden blocks and a cardboard wedge on the bottom to keep it in place. Then tied rope around the blocks and branch for safety. We also tied a string from the bottom part of the sail to the back of the wagon to help keep it’s shape open.


Then it was time for finishing touches 🙂 We last minute decided to paint the whole boat to keep it looking pretty and not like cardboard. Originally we were gonna paint just the fish and leave it at that.

I blended the colors, Yellow Ocher, Cad Yellow, Cad Red and a little bit of Alizarin Crimson to get that really nice brown color. I didn’t completely blend the colors so that it would still blend a little bit while I painted to give it that wood grain look. The Alizarin crimson was used for creating a little bit of dark spots on the wood cause lets face it, how many pieces of wood is the exact same color through out.

Then I added the fish design and the turtles to the side and front of the boat. Make sure your fish are swimming in the direction of the front of the boat so that they are swimming forwards, not backwards.

Final touch was adding the water. This was probably the most fun I had on the boat. We thought to originally drape tissue paper over but I wanted it to look like it had more flow. I decided to cut all the tissue paper into strips (don’t worry it doesn’t have to be exact) about 6in x 2in. Then I started at the front of the boat and worked backwards and layered the different colors over each other using a glue stick. Now we made this boat in such a way that all the pieces can come apart and lay flat so in that thinking, make sure you don’t cover over any moveable flaps. Just get as close to the edge as possible, don’t worry the final step for the waves will help to hide the edges. With the left over dark blue tissue paper, rip the paper in half, crumble it up, then un crumble and give it a loose twist so it becomes maybe about 1 inch in width. Then glue this piece along the top of the waves. Any where that a piece is connecting, just leave a little bit extra fluff that can be easily ruffled over the edge to make it look seamless.

Add Pua and Heihei for extra props 🙂

Last minute we decided to make Riley a little paddle and then after our first day out she was non stop eating coconut chips so we also decorated her chip bag to make it work a little bit more with out theme.

The paddle was super easy. Just a small stick about 1.5 ft long , and cut two tear drop shapes about 8 inches. We cut a small space for the panels to fit around the stick and then covered it with a the thinest piece of cardboard we could find to make it appear seamless to the tear drop panels and then taped the edges with masking tape for smoothness. Secured with hot flurSince we were pressed for time, I used to the same colors we did for the boat adding some white to a small portion of it to use for the Maui engraving part of the paddle. We used a hair dryer to dry the paint quicker and to keep it uniform I also painted the stick.

And just for fun, like I mentioned my niece mentioned we should hide Riley’s coconut chip bag with something a little more Moana themed and invented this :


Want to make your own Kakamura Chips??  MoanasKakamuraChips  <<Click here for a free download of the design!

You can also see in that picture that we put a little bathroom stool in the wagon so she can sit nicely. There is also a pillow behind her for patting and we stored everything under the stool as well as put a speaker that played Moana music the whole time we walked around.

Last but not least, I know I’m in a lot of the pictures but honestly my husband did sooo much of the works when it comes to figuring out how to get everything pieced together and and stable. I just did the creative part. We’re a great team.

I hope you guys enjoyed seeing the behind the scenes of making our Moana Canoe and I hope to see some of the ones you guys end up creating! Let me know where I can see yours below!

Happy Wayfinding!!

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