Rain sticks are a fun instrument for creating the sounds of rain and flowing water. Most of the rain sticks I own were made in different countries of South America. One internet source says their origin is with the Mapuche people of the southern part of the continent, who used the instrument to summon the rains. Most rain sticks are made of dried cactus or bamboo.
Young children can easily make their own rain sticks with items most people have around the house. Here is a link that describes how to make these rain sticks.
For my rain stick I gathered the following materials: paper towel roll, aluminum foil, masking tape, scissors, glue stick or any school glue, cut-outs from magazines, scrap paper to protect the table. You can create your own collage papers using scrap paper and some paints, markers, crayons or colored pencils.
Tear off 2-3 pieces of foil measuring about 12×5 inches. Twist the foil loosely and stuff inside the towel roll, being sure to leave some space so your fillings can tap against the foil but keep falling from one end to the other.
Cover up one end of the towel roll with a small piece of foil, and tape the foil to the end. Cover the foil completely with tape. Fill the other end with your desired “rain” filler. This could be rice, bird seed, fish tank rocks or other small items that will create a sound falling across the foil.
Test it with your hand over one end to be sure that you like the sound. Then cover that end with foil and seal with tape, as you did the first end.
Decorate your rain stick with paint, construction paper or collage. I like doing collage with pages of old magazines and papers I create myself using scrap paper and paints. I even found an old song book I didn’t want anymore and painted some pages from that to have a musical theme.
Play your rain stick by turning it slowly back and forth to create an effective “rain” sound. Here are some fun rain songs:
Rain, Rain, Go Away
It’s Raining, It’s Pouring
Rain (my original song, from my CD Singing All the Way Home). You can find a video here of me singing the song with Gordon MacFarland.
Singing in the Rain (You can easily find the original online, although children will probably make faces at the kissing at the start of the Gene Kelly version.)
When the Rain Comes Down (enjoy this video with Monica Gaucher) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4U23cMzYuYA
Rainy Day (Pichi Pichi Chapu Chapu) – I recently taught this Japanese children’s song in some of my classrooms. The Mama Lisa blog linked here isn’t exactly the version I use, but you can check out other online versions if you are interested.
You can also use the rain stick to make the sound of a river for songs about waterways, such as Bob Schneider’s “Listen to the Water,” sung in this video by Charlotte Diamond:
Or for a song about the water cycle, Pam Donkin’s “Water Cycle Song.”
For slightly more advanced learning on the topic of water, there is always my song “H2O,” which you can find at this link.
I didn’t use a rain stick when I recorded that song for my CD, Amazing, but a rain stick version would be great!