Rain sticks

These gum nuts litter the road, gutters and front lawn at the moment and I am desperate to think of 100’s of activities to find something to do with them. They are great in clay so a fair few end up as eyes and ears and if you can find a few still attached to the stalk they are snapped up.

Then I thought of rainsticks which should use up a few buckets!

The rain has been lashing down so they must be working.

Here is some info from wikipedia so you don’t do what I nearly did and bring them out as part of NAIDOC celebrations. Rainsticks originated in Chile and Argentina and were made using dried out cactus.

In the traditional rainsticks the cactus spikes are collected, dried out and then stuck in to slow the fall of the seeds or small stones inside. Ours sounded just great without cactus spikes/toothpicks. In fact, its a good idea to ask the child to put in a few and give it a shake and to repeat until they are satisfied with the sound they have made. We also experimented with some other large seedpods in the mix which added to the fun of ‘tuning’ their own instrument.

I know people make these with all sorts of grains like rice or lentils but if I have an alternative to using food for activities I will use it … especially on a large scale.

  • The child chooses an empty kitchen towel roll.
  • Closes one end with masking tape or I’m this case those rolls and roll of stickers I’m trying to use up!
  • Then the child pours in some gum nuts, using a small scoop. Repeating until they like the sound.
  • Then the end is closed up and they move to the painting area to decorate as inspired by pictures and a traditional cactus rainstick if possible.

Alternatively, rainsticks from South East Asia seem to be made with bamboo which gives a different sound.

When the child has finished their rainstick it is great for them to listen to some music and then make their own rain music. It is ideal for them to see that it is a slowing twisting movement. You might even like to play some music before you begin the activity or even while you are making them.

I also love the idea of winding string or strips of fabric around the ends of the rainsticks. Now I can’t wait to do them again next year!



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