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Make your own canoe inspired by the Tasmanian bark canoe held in the Museum's collection.

How to make a model raft

A colour image of a hand-craft raft model made from bamboo and twine

Skill level: ★★ Medium — you may need an adult to help
30 minutes
Ages: 5 years and up

What you need:

  • bamboo sticks or sticks that you might find in the garden
  • things to decorate your raft. These might include: grasses, hessian, raffia, cardboard, matchsticks or found objects in the garden or the recycling bin
  • twine, string or rubber bands to tie or bind your raft together.
    Tip: Wet string or twine grips the bamboo better.

Questions to start you thinking

If you had to construct a raft from found materials:

  • What kind of raft would you make?
  • How would you build it?
  • What type of materials would you use?
  • Would your raft be made to carry people?
  • Would it be designed to cross lakes, rivers or oceans?
  • Would you be able to sleep on it? Or use it to surf waves?


  • Imagine what type of model raft you might like to make. What kind of shape will it be?
  • You might like to watch a video on the making of our Tasmanian bark canoe to get some ideas.
  • Gather all your materials and spread them out.
  • Take a piece of bamboo or stick and tie a length of string to it. Make sure that it is nice and tight.
  • Take a second stick and twist the string or twine around the next bamboo stick. This can be a bit tricky so if you need help, ask an adult. Keep going until you have added enough sticks.
  • If string is a bit tricky, try using a piece of wire. Be careful not to poke yourself.
    Tip: You can also use rubber bands. Put the rubber band over the stick and twist the rubber band, wrapping it around the stick a few times, before adding another stick alongside.
  • One of the rafts we created used a square piece of hessian tied to a bamboo frame. There are lots of ways to build a raft, so experiment and remember to have fun.
  • The float test! Once you have finished your raft you might like to put it to the test. Ask your parents to fill up a sink of water and try your raft out. You could even add bubbles to the water!

Share your creation

If you would like to share your creation with us, send a photo to:

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