Chilean Rain Sticks

This project requires a bit more prep than most, but it’s not dif­fi­cult and so worth the extra time it takes! Your stu­dents will LOVE cre­at­ing these col­or­ful, authen­tic sound­ing rain sticks! Be sure to show stu­dents where Chile is located on a map or globe, and talk about its unique geog­ra­phy and weather!

Chile is a coun­try in South Amer­ica, occu­py­ing a long nar­row strip of land between the Andes Moun­tains and the Pacific Ocean. It is almost 3,000 miles long, yet aver­ages only about 100 miles wide. North­ern Chile is home to the world’s dri­est desert, where the rain stick is believed to have orig­i­nated. Rain sticks were made from long, hol­low cac­tus tubes that were dried in the sun. Then the spikes were removed and dri­ven back into the cac­tus like nails. Small peb­bles were then placed inside and the ends sealed. A sound like falling rain was made as the rain stick was turned, mak­ing it use­ful in desert cer­e­monies where it was believed to bring rain.

Mate­ri­als (per rain stick)

  • 18″ x 2″ card­board mail­ing tube (You can find these at office sup­ply stores or wher­ever com­mer­cial paper prod­ucts are sold in your area.)
  • 2 — 2″ card­board cir­cles (I cut them from empty cereal boxes. If your school has a die cut­ter, this would be a good time to use it!)
  • 18″ x 8″ brown gro­cery bag paper
  • 6″ x 6″ brown gro­cery bag paper
  • YES! Paste and stiff glue brush or a good qual­ity glue stick
  • mark­ers (assorted colors)
  • 4 — medium size beads
  • 2 — 12″ pieces twine
  • 4 — feathers
  • 3′ x 12″ alu­minum foil
  • mask­ing tape
  • 1/4 cup pop corn
  • 2 — rub­ber bands

1. Glue card­board cir­cles (cen­tered) onto the squares of brown paper and set aside.
2. Lay out the long strip of alu­minum foil and care­fully “scrunch” it into a long skinny “snake”, but don’t squeeze it too tight! (See photo below.)
3. Now, twist your foil snake into a loose coil about the length of your tube.
4. Next, slide the coil into your tube and secure with mask­ing tape at each end.
5. Spread some glue around one end of your tube.
6. Place one of the papers (with the card­board cir­cle fac­ing inward) over the end of your tube and press the edges down. Hold in place with a rub­ber band until dry.

7. Pour 1/4 cup pop­corn or rice into the tube and seal the other end in the same way. (Your rain stick will sound dif­fer­ent depend­ing on what you fill it with, so it helps to have a sam­ple of each and let stu­dents choose!)
8. Now, draw a col­or­ful pat­tern onto the 8″ x 18″ brown paper.
9. Then scrunch up and care­fully smooth out your paper about 8 times, until it has an evenly bumpy tex­ture to it, resem­bling the tex­ture of a cac­tus branch.
10. Spread glue over the back of your paper and roll it around your tube, over­lap­ping itself and cov­er­ing the loose edges of the paper you used to seal the ends.
11. Wrap a piece of twine twice around each end of your tube and tie in a knot.
12. Add a bead to each end and secure with a knot.
13. Spread a lit­tle glue onto the end of each of four feath­ers and stick them up into each of the beads. Let dry com­pletely.

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20 Responses to Chilean Rain Sticks

  1. Swati November 10, 2010 at 3:07 am #

    Wouldn’t the empty card­board tubes from paper tow­els or foil rolls do as well? I think I will be try­ing this with my kid :) Thanks.

  2. Fine Lines November 10, 2010 at 8:17 am #

    We did these as one of sev­eral fam­ily night art activ­i­ties last year and used paper towel tubes. They worked great, too, and the fam­i­lies loved the project! I wish I had thought of adding the feath­ers and beads. Oh well, next time. Thanks for sharing.

    • anthony January 30, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

      this help me a lot thanks.


  3. TeachKidsArt November 10, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    The paper towel tubes will work, too. I like to use the mail­ing tubes because they’re big­ger and a lot stur­dier! The longer the rain stick, the bet­ter the sound, too.

  4. Phyl November 10, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    We’ve made them a num­ber of times, but instead of using the foil inside, we punch or ham­mer zil­lions of nails into the tube. The nails slow down the flow of lentils, pinto beans chick peas, pop­corn, etc to give a nice sound. We then tape over the nail heads and papier-mache over the whole thing. They turn out fabulous.

  5. TeachKidsArt November 10, 2010 at 6:56 pm #

    The paper mache sounds like a fun twist! That would give a nice tex­ture, too. I’ve used nails before, but had issues with kids get­ting poked. Plus the heavy weight tubes are hard to get the nails into safely. But if you’re work­ing with very small groups of kids or one on one, you can do anything!!

  6. Swati November 11, 2010 at 6:10 am #

    Oh yes, of course the longer tubes will sound bet­ter. Thanks.

  7. Nancie Kay November 14, 2010 at 7:51 am #

    I’ve tried this with plas­tic tubes donated to the art room, putting tooth­picks thru that plas­tic in a spi­ral pat­tern. It took FOREVER! I’m tempted to try it again w/the spi­ral of foil…Thanks!

  8. Gail November 16, 2010 at 7:04 am #

    Although I have a rain stick I never thought to try mak­ing them! Thanks so much for this, I can see doing this at school espe­cially after Christmas…with all those card­board tubes from hol­i­day gift wrap…I like the paper mache idea too.

  9. Elizabeth @ Ucreate with Kids November 19, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    Love this idea! This would be the per­fect addi­tion to our musi­cal instruments!

    Just fea­tured this:

  10. Art Project Girl January 14, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    I love this. I did a rain­stick project with my kinder­garten­ers and it was WAY more prep then I would’ve liked. I won’t do it again with kinders. The foil did work that well (it works a lit­tle bit but I think my paper towel tubes are too heavy and short.) I saw at Joanne fab­rics the inner tubes to the fab­ric and I think I’m going to ask them to save them for me if they don’t reuse them. They are huge and would have to be cut down on the saw in the sum­mer time. Yours are awe­some with the bags and feathers!

  11. volvomom March 12, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    I did this with my daugh­ter and we used a Pringles can. For a whole class I guess you would have to store these up grad­u­ally as you eat the chips :). Not quite as long and impres­sive look­ing as the mail­ing tubes, but it worked very well and had the ends already cov­ered. We did have to make a few mod­i­fi­ca­tions to get a nice, rain-like sound–we used 3 foil snakes instead of one (but she loved doing that), we used rice and black beans inside, and we put a round piece of con­struc­tion paper to fit on the inside of the bot­tom of the can since it was metal. Very fun and turned out great!

  12. TeachKidsArt March 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    I love hear­ing all these great ideas and adap­ta­tions! Thanks for shar­ing, everyone!!

  13. Mindy March 21, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

    Haven’t tried it with my kinders yet, but the one I made at home was sim­ple and great! I love this craft! Thank you!

    • Cheryl Trowbridge March 23, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

      Thank you, Mindy! If your stu­dents are any­thing like mine, they will love it, too!


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