Activity | Build a Rain Stick | Desert Botanical Garden


Monsoons sometimes need a little encouragement to get going and really pour. One way to accomplish that is with an instrument that sounds like the pitter-patter of rain. Rain-themed dance and music can be a fun way to express yourself creatively, while integrating learning at home. Gather the following materials to build your own customized rain stick.


Objective: Build and play an instrument that sounds like rain



Cardboard paper towel tube

Two rubber bands

Sheet of paper

Markers or other coloring utensils

Five to 10 pipe cleaners

Dry rice, dry beans, beads or other small fillings

Scotch tape


½ cup measuring cup

Making a rainstick with the Garden  

Decorate your cardboard tube.
This will be the main body of your rain stick instrument, so design and color the tube however you like.

Cut out your end caps.
Hold your tube upright on top of your sheet of paper and trace a circle around the end. Draw another circle at least twice as large over your traced circle. Cut along the large outer circle, and cut a few short notches along the perimeter. Repeat to cut out another and set it aside. Tightly wrap one of the cutouts over the end of your tube and fasten it with a rubber band and tape. You want it to be extra sturdy. 

Curl your pipe cleaners.
Wrap each pipe cleaner around the pencil, then slide the pencil out, leaving the pipe cleaner in a spring or coil shape. You can use your hands to stretch them into different lengths and widths. Put your coiled pipe cleaners into your tube.

Pour your fillings.
Measure about a half-cup of rice or your choice of fillings. Carefully pour them into your tube to join the coiled pipe cleaners. Cover the open end of your tube with your remaining paper circle cutout and band it tightly shut.

Making a DIY rainstick 

Tip and Twirl.
You have now finished the rain stick. Invert the tube and listen to the fillings move around. What kind of storm does it sound like? Big fat raindrops from a monsoon? A light mist? A hailstorm? Use the rain stick to guide and choreograph your own dance that even the most stubborn cloud could not ignore.



How will other types of fillings change the sound of the rain stick instrument? Test unconventional materials such as sand and gravel, or mix more than one material to curate the perfect sound.


Finished DIY rainstick