As part of our updated Puddles and Ponds summer unit, we made these mini rain sticks using recycled materials. For this project we wanted to come up with a kid-friendly way of making a rain stick that did not involve hammering nails or poking sharp objects into the tube. We found that using small sticks with Y or T shaped branches worked fairly well.
- Cardboard tube (paper towel, wax paper, etc)
- Paper bag (thick one from a grocery store)
- Sticks with Y branches
- Rice, bird seed, or lentils
- Paint, markers, or stickers
Directions for making your mini rain stick:
First you will need to go on a nature walk to gather small sticks. You want to collect a handful of sticks with little off shoot branches. Skinny Y or T shaped branches work the best.
Trace a jar lid or similar round object (that is 2-3 times the diameter of your tube) onto your paper bag twice. These will become your end caps. Cut them out.
Line up your tube in the center of the end cap and trace the circle.
Cut notches around the whole end cap stopping at the center circle. Fold up the edges. Set your end caps aside.
Fill your tube with the branches, breaking off any parts that won’t fit. Be sure to add branches from both ends and try to stagger where the Y portion of the sticks fit in the tube. You want to create a series of rungs to slow your rain material down as it falls through the tube.
Glue one end cap onto your tube. To do this, your child can use craft glue or an adult can use a hot glue gun. Do not get glue on the center of the end cap, but only on the side flaps. You can use a rubber band to hold the edges down while the glue dries.
When your first end cap is dry, pour 1/2 – 1 cup of dried rice, lentils, or bird seed into the tube. This is your rain material. Careful glue on your second end cap.
When both end caps are dry, decorate the outside of your rain stick.
You can now gently tip your rain stick back and forth and listen to the rain like sound.
Be sure to keep your rain stick away from small children or pets who might want to eat the rain material.
Optional Advanced Rain Stick Directions:
An older child might like to make a more advanced rain stick. To do so you will need a large postal tube (available at the post office or office supply stores) that comes with end caps, a box of nails just slightly shorter than the diameter of your postal tube, a hammer, and rain material. Use the hammer to pound the nails into the tube, staggering alignement. Be sure to hammer the nails so that they go straight across the interior of the tube. The more nails you add, the better the sound will be. With one end cap on (you may want to glue it in place), add 1-2 cups of rain material (like rice). Glue on the second end cap. Decorate the outside.