Penknife and String No1: The Mini Raft

Another model - ready to set sail!

A ball of string, a penknife – if you have these with you when you camp there is a whole arsenal of things you can do with the kids.

One of our favourites is the mini-raft. Whenever we find a stream, river or lake at a campsite or on a walk my kids’ first question is ‘Did you bring the string?’.

Here is a short tutorial on how to make a mini-raft

  1. Collect 4 or 5 shortish sticks, about the length of an adult hand is good. Ideally, the thickness of a child’s finger but make do with what there is around. Choose the straightest sticks you can find.
  2. Collect 2 shorter sticks, they will brace across the raft at either end.
  3. Cut a longish piece of string, maybe an arm’s length.
  4. Now tie one end of the string securely on approx 2 finger widths from the end of one stick.
  5. Lay the sticks together in a line, now weave the string under and over the sticks right along the row of sticks and back again. Don’t worry too much about neatness, just go for security!

    One of the prototypes, sticks a bit thin and loads of string but Tildabeast still loved making it and playing with it!

  6. Lay a shorter bracing stick across where you have woven the string across.
  7. Weave the string across again, this time, including the bracing stick in your under over. Again, we aren’t going for aesthetics here, just make sure it’s well attached.
  8. Now, do the same the other end.
  9. The first time we did this we quickly discovered the finishing touch is to attach another long piece of string as a lead, with a handle loop so they don’t accidentally let go as they throw it off on its next expedition. Otherwise be prepared to wade in to rescue your child cherished Mini-raft!

    Maiden voyage.

Depending on how old or dextrous your kids are they can help, do it themselves or just collect the sticks. No matter the age they will have fun playing with the finished article.

Another model – ready to set sail!

More string and pen knife activities in future posts!

9 thoughts on “Penknife and String No1: The Mini Raft

  1. emilymv says:

    I had a weekend amble along the river yesterday with my two kiddies and I remembered to pack some string and penknife so we could have a go at making a mini raft. My 6 year old son showed his inexperience by letting go of Raft 1 so we had to have another go with Raft 2- a good solution was tying the string around his wrist!! Thanks for the great idea.

      • emilymv says:

        I did actually! And I am sure we will have another go next time we are out by the river, as the first attempt was rather basic!

  2. emilymv says:

    We had take two of the mini raft building yesterday. Again we tied the string around his wrist and great fun was had floating the raft. But, even more fun was had on the rest of the walk when the raft became Twigs the dog and followed him for the rest of the walk! Awesome to see him using his imagination so much and kept him entertained for the whole walk!!

    • Hazel says:

      Sweet. Love the name ‘Twigs’! I made my biggest one ever, to sail on the lake at a campsite. There were row boats too so we could chase after it. No need for handle. Fun!

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