Make: Floating Egg Carton Ducklings (from the simplest supplies!)

Spring’s arrival brings a flood of blossoms & sprouts, new sounds & fresh smells – it seems there is new life to be found everywhere! Our neighborhood is home to a pair of wild ducks, and this year they surprised us all with 3 adorable little ducklings. They’ve been tottering unsteadily through the dewy backyard every morning – getting used to their wobbly legs, tiny webbed feet, and round little bodies.

Three of our egg carton ducklings sitting on a paper pound with rocks in front of a light blue background.

In honor of our new ducklings, we decided to craft up our own little set for pretend play and read-along props. With Easter coming, I have egg cartons EVERYWHERE, so we painted them yellow, added a feather, popped each of them into a jar lid, and made a set of tiny floating egg carton ducklings!

One of the things I love about this recycled spring craft is that there are so many wonderful teaching opportunities and easy ways to put it to use. Read on to learn how you can add these ducklings to a simple sensory or reading activity.  Can you even stand the cuteness??

Loving these little spring babes? Triple the newborn cuteness with a cereal box and stick spring fawn, and then make your own juice carton birdhouse (with baby birds tucked inside!).

To make your own floating egg carton ducklings you’ll need: 


  • An egg carton cup
  • Yellow paint and a paintbrush
  • A baby food jar lid
  • A feather
  • A very small piece of orange card stock or craft foam
  • Craft glue or a hot glue gun
  • An X-Acto knife or small pair of craft scissors
  • A permanent marker, black paper or googley eyes


  • A baking dish filled with water is a simple way to create a “pond”
  • Glass beads, collected rocks, flora, and fauna can help bring your pond to life
  • We recycled some old craft foam to create floating lily pads for our pond

How to Make Floating Egg Carton Ducklings – DIY Instructions:

  1. Cut an egg carton cup 

    Cut an egg cup from an egg carton (the middle cups worked best for us)Cut an egg cup from an egg carton and gather a feather, paint, and baby food jar lid.

  2. Paint the egg carton cup

    Use acrylic or tempera paints to paint your egg carton cup yellow (or whichever color you prefer your duckling)!Paint your egg carton cup yellow or whatever color you'd like your duckling to be.

  3. Add a beak

    Cut a small beak shape out of your craft foam or cardstock. Once your egg carton has dried, cut a small upside-down u-shape into the “front” of your duckling cup. It will look like a little frown, but you will push your orange craft foam piece into the “u” and ta-da! It becomes the perfect beak!
    Cut a small curved line into your egg carton cup and insert a paper or craft foam beak.

  4. Add a feather to the back of your duckling

    Use a hot glue gun or craft glue to add a small feather to the back of your duckling – we added a tiny little feather on the top of its head too – extra darling! Don’t forget to add two little eyes with a pen or permanent marker.
    Our finished egg carton cup ducklings all in a row!

  5. Tuck your egg carton cup duckling into a baby food jar lid

    Gently pop your egg carton duckling into a clean baby food jar lid – now it will float!
    Craft an adorable floating duckling out of an egg carton and a baby food jar lid! It couldn't be easier and is perfect for pretend play, sensory bins or small worlds! | via barley & birch

I love that we were able to work in a bit of science in this cute little recycled craft. While you put your ducklings together, you can discuss why things sink or float, density and buoyancy. Are there other supplies we could use that would help this duckling float? What would happen if we took away the baby food jar lid and why? What happens when water gets inside the lid (and it will eventually!).

Craft an adorable floating duckling out of an egg carton and a baby food jar lid! It couldn't be easier and is perfect for pretend play, sensory bins or small worlds!

Ways to play with your DIY duckling craft

  • CREATE A POND SENSORY ACTIVITY. We used our floating ducklings for a simple spring pond-themed sensory activity. They were so perfect (and easy to recycle so I don’t have a million plastic ducks sitting around I’ll never use again). You don’t need a fancy sensory bin for this – I used a clear glass baking dish filled with water (tuck a blue piece of paper under the dish to instant “color” the water blue!). Put some stones, pebbles, or water beads in the bottom and fill with water. Add plant trimmings, lily pads (we cut ours out of foam sheets and added paper flowers) – whatever you like!
  • PAIR YOUR EGG CARTON DUCKLINGS WITH POND-THEMED PICTURE BOOKS. We’re also going to pair our sweet little guys with Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey – it’s one of my springtime favorites and an absolute classic. These make the cutest little props your kids can use to act out the story as you read.
  • USE YOUR DUCKLING CRAFT TO DISCUSS CONSERVANCY. Use your ducklings and play set up to discuss the protection of animals and habitats like ponds and wetlands. Mix up a bit of food coloring and/or vegetable oil, then slowly pour into your play “pond” to mimic an oil spill. What happens when it spills into the water and gets on the ducklings. Is it easy or difficult to get it off the plants, ducklings, and out of the water? Are there things you can use to stop the oil from mixing with the water? This oil spill simulation activity from National Geographic has tons of great ideas.
  • FOCUS ON HABITATS. Why do ducks live in this environment, and what other animals would live in a pond like this? How are ponds, marshes, and wetlands different (or the same)? Can your ducks live in freshwater ponds, saltwater ponds, or both? Are there places like this near you that you could visit? National Geographic has a good resource here for learning about all different kinds of habitats, and this collection of 20 ways to explore habitats from We Are Teachers is a wonderful page to visit and save for activity ideas! This interactive habitats page from DK Publishers is also a favorite of mine – chock full of good information!
Our pond sensory bin filled with three floating egg carton ducklings, glass stones, and foam lilypads sitting on a green background.

If you’re loving these little ducklings, you should definitely see how we made a couple of small changes and turned an egg carton cup into a floating baby whale! Or try making an egg cup carton turtle for a few easy playdough play invitations!

Three of our egg carton ducklings sitting on a paper pound with rocks in front of a light blue background.
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Amanda E.

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.


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