Project #30: Crafts with Nature
A Stick Raft Toy Prop using sticks, felt, and knitting wool.
Time: Done in a day.
Difficulty: Everyone can do this.
For the final crafts with nature for kids in this 30 days project, I wanted to do something completely new and fun. Making some kind of boat for storytelling adventures has been on my to-do list for years, but I’ve never made one (I’ve bought a few handmade boats though) so pulling the inspiration from words such as ‘boat-y’, ‘water’, ‘adventure’, and ‘nature’, this is what I came up with. A simply sweet stick raft, complete with its own birthday cake-inspired sail, just in case I decide to use this raft in a birthday celebration down the track… I’m seriously contemplating that possibility just so I can use this raft boat on a regular basis in the future. (Yes, there are things in the air around here, and new creative playgroups may soon be on the agenda. More to be revealed as the year goes on…)
This raft boat would be perfect for the Nature Table, or as an imaginative prop for inside play fun too. I bet your children would come up with a million ideas using this raft, just like Ned. He’s snaffled it already.
As for me, I am now reassured that should I ever become stranded on a desert island, I’m certain I could now fashion my own raft using fallen logs in the area and the rope I’m bound to have with me. Just not sure how seaworthy it would be!
1. To make the raft, first you’ll need to find four sticks of equal thickness. Gently snap them to length. (Tricker than it sounds. I went through a few spares and back-up sticks in the process.) Measure your raft by laying them out so that the left and right sticks act as the base, with the other two sticks laying on top as shown.
2. Tie a loop knot in a piece of string about 30 cm long. Begin with two sticks. Slip the loop over the ‘cross’ formed by the sticks. Wrap one length around the cross on the diagonal. Repeat using the second piece of string on the other diagonal. Tie the two ends of string together tightly to secure.
3. Repeat on all four sides to make your square.
4. Cut a piece of felt to fit inside your stick square. Thread a long 60 cm piece of knitting wool or string onto a needle, then stitch the felt onto the stick frame as shown.
5. Keep stitching around each corner until you get back to the start. Be careful with your stitching tension so that the raft mat stays flat and is not pulled too much in one direction or the other.
6. Knot the two loose ends together. Trim wool.
7. This is what your raft base will look like.
8. Tie a slip knot in a 20 cm piece of string and place it around the base of another stick. Push the stick into the middle of one side and use the strings to fasten the stick to the raft base.
9. Cut a triangular piece of felt for the sail. From scraps of felt, cut out shapes to make your pattern. Remember to leave about 1.5 cm on the left side empty so you can turn this over to wrap around the stick. (I forgot this when I pinned my pattern, so had to readjust before I started stitching.)
10. When your sail is ready, wrap the left side of the felt around the stick and stitch it in place using coloured cotton.
Huckleberry would be proud!