Earth Day craft — What’s shakin’? Rain stick

By Kathy Antoniotti

Akron Beacon Journal

People who live in drought-stricken parts of the world will tell you that nothing in nature can survive without water — especially people.

Although the seasonal drought map from the National Weather Service shows an improved outlook for some parts of the southeastern United States, the lack of rain in some states has created problems that have leaders looking for new ways to provide residents with fresh water.

Legends claim Chilean natives of South America invented an instrument that could help. A rain stick, shaken to sound like soft falling rain, was supposed to alert the gods to the suffering of the natives during times of drought. The percussion instrument, made with a hollowed-out cactus or bamboo stem, replicates the sound of a rain storm.


During the month of April, and in honor of Earth Day on April 22, I am featuring crafts that can be made with the three R’s in mind: Reduce, reuse and recycle items that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Using instructions I found at the DIY Network Web site, I made a rain stick with a paper towel tube and masking tape. You can find the directions at on the Web. Type "rain stick" in the search box.

Rain stick

Supplies you will need:

  • Paper towel roll.
  • Brown shoe polish.
  • White glue.
  • Nail.
  • Card stock.
  • Masking tape.
  • Wooden toothpicks.
  • Rice.
  • Scissors.

Push lots of holes in the tube with the nail. Try not to crush the tube while you work.
Cover one end of the tube with tape to close it.

Put toothpicks through one hole and out one on the other side. There is no special order, just keep crisscrossing them. The more toothpicks you put in the tube, the more sound it will create when it’s shaken.

Place a dab of glue on each toothpick where it meets the cardboard tube and let dry.

Use scissors to cut off sharp toothpick points as flat to the sides of the tube as possible.


Cut two circles out of card stock. Tape one over the closed end for extra strength so the rice will not fall out.

Cut a piece of card stock the length of the tube and wide enough to wrap around it with a little overlap. Tape the card stock cover around the tube.

Fill the tube with one to two cups of rice.

Tape the other circle to the open end and cover with tape.

Cover the entire tube with small pieces of hand-torn masking tape, giving it the appearance of a bamboo pole.

Rub the surface with brown shoe polish and let dry. Buff to get all the excess polish off and to leave the surface shiny.

Experiment with your new rain stick to see how you want to play it. It can be shaken or simply turned from one end to the other to make the sound of falling rain.

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