Barneblad: Sing and set sail with your very own boat!

Brought to you by Lori Ann Reinhall

We all know the Norwegians are great boat builders and sailors, with a long tradition going back to old Viking times. This is only natural in a country with water everywhere, with a long coastline, and fjords, rivers, and lakes everywhere.

Many Norwegians spend their weekends and holidays out on the water, and many families own their own motorboat or sailboat. But even if you don’t live close to the water, you can share this love of the sea in so many different ways.

One way is to sing a song about the sea. There are many old folk tunes, starting with the old nursery rhyme and children’s song  “Ro, ro, ro din båt” (Row, row, row your boat”). Everyone knows the melody to this popular round, and learning the Norwegian words isn’t difficult.

Ro, ro, ro din båt,
Ta din åre fatt.
Vuggende, vuggende,
Vuggende, vuggende,
over Kattegat.

Row, row, row your boat,
Grab onto your oar,
Rocking, rocking,
Rocking, rocking,
Over Kattegat.

Note: The Kattegat is a sound in the North Sea. The word “Kattegatt” means “cat hole,” as in the narrow round hole doors people had in their houses to let the cat in and out, because the Kattegat sound is very narrow and difficult to sail through.

You can listen to the song here to learn the pronunciation:

Now that you’re in the mood, it’s time to build your very own boat.  The possibilities are nearly endless, but one of the easiest boats to build is made from something every family has—an empty milk carton. This project is both easy and fun, and your boat will float!

Here’s what you need for your boat:

1 empty milk carton

duct tape

construction paper (white is perfect for a sail, but colored sails are fun too!)

modeling clay

drinking straw

hole puncher



Your boat might look something like this!

Here’s how to build your boat:

Rinse out the milk carton, and let it dry.

Cut a rectangular side panel out of the empty milk carton.

Cover the outside of the milk carton with duct tape.

Punch holes into the  top and bottom of a piece of construction paper.

Thread paper through a drinking straw to create a sails on a mast. Add as many sails as you like; you can stack them on top of each other for added flair.

Put some modeling clay in the milk carton, and place the mast in it.

Choose a name for you boat.

Put your boat in water, and watch it float!

This article originally appeared in the April 23, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.