Rainsticks are musical instruments traditionally used by certain South American and U.S. Native American cultures to summon rain spirits. The sticks are made from long hollow tubes filled with small objects and sealed at the ends. When turned, they make a sound like falling water. Using PVC pipe or empty paper towel tubes, children can make their own rainsticks.
History of Rainsticks
Traditionally, rainsticks were made out of dried cacti and filled with beans or small pebbles. Many cultures believed that the sound of falling rain would bring about rain storms and used the rainsticks to summon the rain spirits. Rainsticks were often decorated with pictures and symbols relevant to the culture, including pictures of rain spirits and crops that depended on the rain to grow.
Today, rainsticks are filled with a variety of objects including the traditional beans and small pebbles, dried corn, dry rice, pasta or marbles. When children are making their own rainsticks, have them experiment with different fillings to hear the difference in sound the fillings make and decide which filling they like best. Poke holes in the rainstick and insert toothpicks or small pins for the filling to hit as it travels down the tube.
Cardboard Tube Rainsticks
Tape two paper towel tubes end-to-end with masking tape or use a large wrapping paper tube for this craft. Allow children to decorate the tube with paint, stickers and markers. Cover one end of the tube with a small piece of aluminum foil or cloth secured by a rubber band. Add approximately 1 cup of the desired filling to the rainstick through the open end. Cover the open end with another small piece of aluminum foil or cloth and secure it with a rubber band.
PVC Pipe Rainstick
Purchase a piece of PVC pipe approximately 3 feet long, along with two end caps for the pipe. Allow children to decorate the pipe with craft paint, spray paint or permanent marker. Place an end cap on one end of the pipe. Fill the other end of the pipe with 2 cups of the desired filling and add the second end cap. For a different sound, screw drywall screws into random places in the pipe for the filling to hit on the way down.