When I was a kid, we had these toys that made the coolest sound. A sound that I always found comforting. They were so simple. We had a few of them and they each made slightly different sounds. I remember watching a show (I don’t remember what sho) that actually made music with these things.
I loved them, and still do. They are so cool! Now, I know they’re called a rain stick. I’m pretty sure there was a learning activity to go with playing with the stick but I don’t remeber it now.
Using materials you probably already have, you can make this really cool toy for/with your baby (toddler, young child, even musically inclined teen). It’s a very simple, quick project that can bring you joy and music for months (years???) to come.
They were just tubes. See, super simple. Little did I know as a child, these tubes had beads, rice, beans, rocks, or whatever in them. The loose item inside would hit a stick, nail, or something that had been stuck through the tube. The falling loose item inside would hit whatever was stuck into the tube and make the sound of rain.
I LOVE the sound of falling rain! Of course it makes sense that I would love the sound of a rainstick. The sound of rain falling and hitting leaves, metal, the roof…such a relaxing sound. One of my favorite things to do when it rains is to sit outside and watch it fall. Smell the crisp, fresh, moist air and just listen. Listen to the soft pitter patter of the rain hitting the earth.
Lets talk about where a rainstick came from. I found a page on NASA’s Climate Kids about them and aparently, no one really knows who made the first rainstick. They belive it originated in Chile. This page by Teach Kids Art mentions South America and Chile as well. Then I found a page by Native Village with some interesting history.
Overall, each of the cultures where rainsticks were found seemed to have the same goal in mind. Enticing the rain to fall.
The Chilean culture used dead cactuses and their spines. I didn’t have that around so I just used a cardboard tube and some nails.
Learn How to Make Rain
I literally only spent $5. I didn’t even need to spend that much, honestly. I already had rice at home but I picked up some beans and rice at Dollar Tree. While I was there, I picked up the 3 rolls of fancy duct tape. Didn’t really need to purchase that either since we have your regular run-of-the-mill grey variety at home. There’s a good amount on the $1 roll and it’s fun. I already had the nails (they’re for hanging picture frames) and I had just used the last of some foil so I had the tube already too.
- Cardboard Tube
- 1 to 2 types of Duct Tape
- Small Nails OR flat-headed sewing pins, T-pins, flat push pins (push pins won’t work as well)… Something to go into the tube that won’t poke all the way through.
- Dried Beans OR Rice, beads, rocks, unpopped popcorn, small pasta
- Hammer (not shown)
Step 1: Put some tape on one end of your tube.
I did this by taking 2 pieces of tape and criss crossing them. I also made sure the tape went down far enough that the end would be fairly sturdy. It was about 1-1.5 inch. Just eye ball it. I chose a different tape than what I was going to use for my stick but you can make yours all one color if you prefer.
Step 2: Put the nails in the tube.
Since the nails I used went almost the full width of the tube, I did mine ina spiral layout. I used the pinto beans too so I wanted to be sure the beans had room to fall through the nails. I spread the nails out by about 1/2 an inch. It was completely organic as I didn’t measure anything. Just eye balled it.
Step 3: Beans Beans, the musical fruit…
We all know how that ends. HAHA and they really are musical in this case.
Pour in your beans. I think mine fill about 1/3 of the tube. If you want it to “rain” longer, then only fill your tube 1/4 full. It’s hard to see into the tube, though.
Step 4: Close off the end.
Put some tape on the end that is still open. Again, you can use contrasting tape or the same tape. I criss crossed the tape again.
Step 5: Make it Pretty
I used another roll of tape to go around the entire tube. I showed my daughter two rolls and let her choose which one she wanted.
You can now make rain!