Step-by-Step: Making a Rain Stick

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This week, we made a “rain stick” for Megan’s music class. I was hoping to use the one that we made for Josh last year, but it’s long since disappeared. The upside to that is, we got a chance to perfect our technique…and I got a chance to make pictures so that I could post the “how-to’s” on my blog.

Supplies needed to make a rain stick

supplies for making a rain stick
  • a paper towel roll
  • toothpicks
  • safety or straight pin
  • bottle caps to cover the end (we used the size that would go on a small Gatorade bottle)
  • scissors
  • rice
  • duct tape (optional)
  • paper and crayons for making a cover (optional)
  • contact paper (optional)

What You’ll Do:

Step 1: poke the toothpicks through the paper towel roll so that they go through both sides (in one side and out the opposite side). This is where the safety or straight pin comes in handy. You’ll break a lot less toothpicks if you use the pin to “pre-drill” the holes.

You want to place the toothpicks in a criss-cross fashion all the way down the paper towel roll, so that you wind up with a network of toothpicks inside like this:

diy rainstick craft

Inside view:

rain stick craft for kids

Step 2: Use the scissors to clip the outside tips off the toothpicks (use caution, we found toothpick pieces all over the dining room, so I would assume that you could get hit in the eye) and cap one end with the bottle cap. The paper towel tube should fit inside the cap, but you can use packing or duct tape or hot glue to adhere it, if it doesn’t.

Step 3: Pour rice into the tube. There’s no exact measurement for this part. I think we wound up with 1/4 cup or so. Once you pour some rice in, you can put your hand over the uncapped end, tilt the rain stick to that end and listen. You simply add more rice or pour some out of the stick until you get a sound that you like.

Step 4: Once you’re satisfied with the amount of rice you have in the tube, cap the other end. Then, we wrapped the entire tube in duct tape to keep the end caps on and to keep the toothpicks from either working their way out or poking a finger. You could probably use something else for the same purpose, but this seemed like the easiest, most expedient way to us for achieving the desired effect.

Last year, we were able to find one tube that was slightly larger than the other, so we used the small one for poking the toothpicks through, then, slid it down into the larger tube for the cover.

If you chose the duct tape method, at this point your tube should look something like this:

rain stick craft

Step 5: Design a cover for your stick. We let Megan color a design on a piece of plain, white computer paper, explaining that a design would work better than a detailed drawing since we were going to wrap the paper around the tube and part of whatever she colored would not be visible.

Step 6: Once Megan was satisfied with her design, I placed it face down on the sticky side of a sheet of contact paper, leaving enough about an inch of extra contact paper on either side of the picture so that it could be adhered to the paper towel roll. Here’s the final result:

how to make a rain stick

We were all very pleased with both the appearance and sound of the completed rain stick. In order the make it more authentic-looking for a Native American project, you could color the paper to look like wood and attach feathers to the ends.

Happy rain-making!

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  1. That is such a great idea!

    I wanted to let you know that I left an award over on my blog for you. Your blog is just full of great information for homeschoolers!

  2. What a fantastic idea! A friend is doing Native American culture with her children this year, and I will definitely share this idea with her!

  3. Hey cool idea! My young fella used to have a wooden one but it went astray at some point…now we could actually make a new one…nifty! 🙂

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