Pin It

Rain Sticks – An Unplugged Project

by Tiffany in Crafts

unplugged projectThis morning my two oldest kids were itching to do an art project. After a couple minutes trying to figure out what to do I decided that we had all the necessary ingredients for making Rainsticks.

Rainsticks are ceremonial musical instruments that are/were used to invoke the rain spirits. They are typically made by people who live in the deserts of northern Chile. And they are traditionally made from dead cactus tubes with hundreds of cactus spines hammered into the tube. Tiny pebbles or stones cascade gently through the tube, sounding much like rain. I am sure you have probably seen them before at arts and crafts festivals.

We did not have cactus tubes on hand unfortunately. When we lived in Arizona we could have found these easy within the state land that formed our back yard but alas Ohio is short on cactus. ;) So we used cardboard mailing tubes, nails, and rice. We decorated our tubes with Tempera paint.

We hammered a couple dozen nails into our mailing tubes, filled with a cup or so of rice, tested to hear the lovely sounds they made, and then painted. Here are some pictures. The kids are quite proud of their rainsticks and we had a fun time making them. They are out trying to invoke the rain spirits right now. We could use the rain!

If you have any mailing tubes laying around this is a great way to recycle them.

Making Rainsticks

Painted Rainstick

Completed Rainsticks

  • Melynda

    Hmm tried to send you a trackback, but it didn’t work. Anyway, I was planning on posting this same craft, but you beat me to it!

    I love the way rainsticks sound and think they are so fun to make.

  • I’ve made these lots of times when teaching, they’re fun! I just wrote a post for Five Minutes For Going Green and one of the projects had to do with making your own instruments when dancing to music. Great idea. Looks like fun!

    Did you write that museum?

  • I did write them. No response yet. ;)

  • What fun! My two year old seems to be totally enamored with the rain sticks he’s encountered in his brief existence. It hadn’t yet occurred to me to make one of our own. Thanks so much for the tip!

    Also, we wanted to personally invite you to participate in Thrifty Green Thursday over at The Green Baby Guide. It’s a great way to drive up your blog traffic, network with other eco-friendly sites, and share your favorite frugal, green tips–and everyone’s welcome! For more info, just go here:

  • I’ve always wanted to make these with my kids and now I know I need mailing tubes. For some reason, I could not figure out what to use for the tube; how’s that for missing the obvious? We are totally going to do this soon!

  • I made one for my mom one christmas. It was dowel instead of nails and was decupaged with twine criss-crossing under leaf wrapping paper in stead of paint…. So you can see how this is a great project for all ages.

  • This is a great idea, we have more than enough tubes lying around and my kids are more than excited to make noise! My son was just asking to paint this morning…maybe after their nap we can head outside and get messy! Thanks!!

  • how fun! great idea!