Make a Rainstick
Plop, plip, splish, splash! Rain is nature's way of nourishing our earth. This project celebrates the sounds of rain and opens the door for discussing different cultures, weather, and plant life. Not only an engaging art project, this activity will do double-duty as a treasured toy and musical instrument for your child long after you make it.
What You Need:
- Cardboard tube (paper towel tubes, gift wrap tubes, mailing tubes, or even tubes from the craft store work well)
- Masking tape
- 10 Flat head nails (shorter than the diameter of tube) or tin foil
- Aluminum foil
- 1 cup dried rice, seeds, beans, beads, pebbles, macaroni etc. (mixed)
- Materials to decorate the tube such as twine, paint, flat sided gems, foam paper, cutout pictures of the rain forest, yarn, shells, markers etc.
- Funnel (optional)
What You Do:
- First poke or pound your nails into the tube from top to bottom at intervals. You are doing this so that the rice and bean mixture has something to break its fall inside the tube. There is no pattern to where you place the nails, but sometimes mailing tubes have a visible spiral seam that works well to follow.
- Next, ask your child to scrunch aluminum foil and push it into the tube. The more nooks and crannies, the better—those spaces allow the rice and beans to slip through, creating a realistic rain sound.
- Seal one of the ends. If you have a cap you can cap off one end now, otherwise use masking tape to cover one of the ends.
- Now, fill the rainstick. One cup of rice and 1/2 cup of beans is a good amount, but have your child experiment with adding more or less of each to see how it changes the sound. After you put some of your fill in, put your hand over the top and try your stick out. When you get the sound you want, tape the end of your stick closed.
- Decorate your tube: wrap twine around it, glue shells to i, or paint it. When you are done you will have a wonderful rainstick.
- This is a great time to discuss precipitation with your child. Explain that water vapor from rivers, lakes and oceans and forms clouds of water droplets. When the drop are heavy enough to fall, we get rain! There are three types of clouds: Stratus clouds are spread out, horizontal layered clouds, and causes drizzly rain. Cumulus clouds look like large cotton balls and are puffy, they form large thunderstorms. Cirrus clouds look like tufts or curls of hair and are light wispy clouds. They form at high altitudes, and do not have enough moisture to cause rain. Snow happens when the water droplets in stratus and cumulus clouds meet cold air--they freeze and form the beautiful ice crystals that we call snow.
- Now, ask your child to experiment with her rainstick. Practice making big rainstorms, like the ones that come from cumulus clouds, and try to make slow rains, like the ones that come from stratus clouds. Your family will have fun and be learning while they do it.