How to Make a Canoe

If your kids are studying about Native American culture, making a model birch bark canoe with them is a fun and easy project that you can do together. It will help them appreciate the art of canoe making and it will also provide them with a miniature memento that they can keep. Read the steps listed below and learn about how to make a canoe.

Here's what you'll need:


  • Piece of birch bark
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Glue
  • Water

Here's what to do:

  1. Go for a hike with your kids and pull off large piece of bark from a birch tree trunk.
  2. Soak the bark in water when you get home. The wetter the bark, the easier it is to work with and the less likely that it will tear.
  3. Find an online pattern for the body of the canoe [source: Native Tech].
  4. Cut out the template, and place it over the bark.
  5. Cut the pattern out of the wet bark. Cut slits as the pattern instructs. Remember to use a sharp pair of scissors so that the edges are clean and the bark doesn't tear.
  6. Place the rough, woody side of the bark face down. Bend the bark in half lengthwise. If the bark is getting too dry, soak it in more water.
  7. Pinch the ends of the canoe together and fold up the tabs that you cut to make gunwales (the upper edge of the side of the vessel).
  8. Stitch the sides of the gunwales, using a needle and thick thread, to ensure that the sides hold. Look at canoes online to find stitching inspiration [source: MNHS].
  9. Open the center of the boat gently to ensure that it will float when put in water.
  10. Fill up any holes or cracks in the bark with glue.