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Model raft

Fun at home activity

Make a model raft.

A colour image of hand-crafted rafts made from bamboo and twine. These are placed on an outdoor tiled area with water feature in the background.


This activity was inspired by the Tasmanian bark canoe on show in the National Museum's Hall.

Children and their families were invited to make small scale rafts out of bamboo and twine in the January 2013 'Raft craft' Discovery Space program.

These activities are suitable for children aged 5 to 12 and are designed to be made with the help of an adult.

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

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?

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.

What to do

  1. Imagine what type of model raft you might like to make. What kind of shape will it be?
  2. You might like to watch a video on the making of our Tasmanian bark canoe to get some ideas.
  3. Gather all your materials and spread them out.
  4. Take a piece of bamboo or stick and tie a length of string to it. Make sure that it is nice and tight.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!

If you would like to share your creation with us, send a photo to: and we will add it to the Museum's Flickr stream.

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