DIY Stick Rafts For Rainy Day Water Play

DIY Stick Rafts For Rainy Day Water Play

Learn! Explore! Move!

DIY Stick Rafts WinterKids4
DIY Stick Rafts WinterKids2

We were inspired by “I LOVE the Rain” (one of our books of the month) to make little stick rafts for bugs and fairies! We anxiously waited for a rainy day to bring enough puddles and streams, so that we could give this a try. Next time it’s raining where you are, gather your supplies, slip on those rain boots and raincoats, and head outside to create your own stick rafts! 

Maine Early Learning and Development Standards (MELDS)

This activity can be aligned to the following MELDS:

  • Approaches to Learning: Initiative and Curiosity + Persistence and Reflection
  • Health & Physical Education: Fine Motor Skills
  • Mathematics: Shape and Size
  • Science: Scientific Process

Bonus: This is a no-prep, low-waste, nature-based activity!

WinterKids LEARN, MOVE, and EXPLORE!

Learn: Construct stick rafts with nature items. Test them in a puddle or stream on a rainy day.

Move: Get outside and move about on a rainy day! 

Explore: Find rain puddles, collect leaves and sticks, and test out which type will float the best.


Sticks, leaves, float, sink, raft, sail, wire, rain, puddle, stream


  • Leaves
  • Sticks/Twigs
  • Paddle Wire (we used this 22 gauge)
  • Scissors (strong enough to cut the wire)
  • A big rain puddle
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Step 1

Gather fallen leaves and sticks. 

If you find long sticks, break them into smaller pieces… about the length of your hand.  

Step 2

Find which leaves and sticks float the best in a rain puddle.

Set aside the sticks that float the best to use for your stick raft. 

Step 3

This step works best with some teamwork… 

-Arrange three or so sticks next to each other 

Person 1: hold the sticks together in place.

Person 2: use the paddle wire to wrap the sticks together on each end.

*The less wire the better!

Step 4

Add a leaf sail, if you’d like!

Try to poke the stem of the leaf in between two of the sticks on your raft.

Or, set the leaf in place with some paddle wire.

Step 5

Set sail with your stick raft!

If there are other puddles nearby, try floating your stick raft in another puddle or stream.

Make another raft, try a different design to see what floats best! 

Have stick raft races! 

Play imaginatively with your stick rafts… create a scene for fairies and bugs to board the rafts and go for a sail.

Stick Rafts Grid GIF

Tip: Create the stick rafts indoors – we learned it was challenging to use the wire with wet and cold fingers!

And please remember to bring any wire debris home to throw away!

Extension: Now that you’ve given it a try, use what you’ve learned to draw blueprint designs for future stick rafts. Give those a try on the next rainy day!

Find more activities like this for your classroom or family in our WinterKids Guide to Active Outdoor Learning (GOAL) for Pre-K & Elementary!


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Students, Teachers, and Families Impacted in Maine & New Hampshire since 2010!

WinterKids is the only nonprofit in Maine dedicated exclusively to increasing outdoor physical activity in children and families during our longest, most sedentary season.  

The shorter, darker, and colder days of winter and the increasing allure of screen time make it all too easy for kids and families to “hibernate.”  At WinterKids, we make it our business to provide kids, parents, and teachers with the right option: to get outside, get active, and have fun in the winter – and year-round.

Outdoor kids are active kids. Active kids are healthy kids. Healthy kids are happy kids. Happy kids are “winter kids.”



With outside being the safest and best place to be, WinterKids has truly thrived during the pandemic! We were able to reach nearly 27,000 kids, teachers and families in Maine and New Hampshire with creative adaptations for safe, outdoor adventures. Check out our 2020/2021 Season Wrap Up Report!

annual report


We are so thankful for our WinterKids Family – sponsors, foundations, teams, friends, volunteers, board and staff – and most important, the KIDS we serve. 2020 was a fantastic year for our organization, reaching over 35,000 (!) kids, family members, and teachers with innovative, outdoor education programs.