Friday, June 10, 2011

Rainsticks: make rain, create stillness

Kids love music. They also love to be creative and express themselves. Why not give them the opportunity to use their hands and their imaginations to create something sacred, beautiful and soothing.

I had the pleasure of watching four children, aged 2 - 4, for a day who were up for the challenge of making their own rainsticks. 


While we made our sticks, we listened to meditative "rain" music.  For inspiration, we also watched some YouTube videos of people making music with rainsticks. 

We talked about rain:  how we feel when it rains and why it is beneficial. We talked about storms: how they can be scary; why they happen; and how powerful it is. 

We added feathers and rainbows to our rainstick because they are other beautiful things that are found in the sky.


1)  CARDBOARD TUBE: We used a short mailing tube, (18" long x 2" wide).

2) SPIRAL: draw a staircase-style spiral from one end to the other of the tube.

3) NAILS: Each kid hammered in 1.5" nails along the spiral line. 

The kids had a great time doing this in fact. The younger one practiced nailing into a spare piece of Styrofoam, while the older kids got to work. Each tube had about 30 - 40 nails in it. Our tube was a bit hard to get the nail through the cardboard initially, so after they tired of doing it themselves, I started the nail and they just had to finish it off. 

4) FILL UP THE INSIDES: Beans, lentils, rice and lavender (we cut from our bush outside).

Eight little hands scooped up their selection and had fun funneling it into their rain stick. We filled the tube until almost 2/3rds full.

5) DECORATE: cloth fabric, ribbons, feathers, beads, rainbow ribbon.

Each kid choose one or two pieces of fabric to wrap around their stick. I glued it on for them. Then they all chose one ribbon which was tied on along with a feather, beads. Each one also had a rainbow ribbon glued on, and a hawk feather, to help give the stick more "sky power". 

6) PLAY!

Now each child has their own unique rainstick to play and dance and dream with. It has a nice soothing sounds if tilted slowly. Unfortunately, the "rain" does go a tad quick. But it is peaceful to sit and tilt and listen. Or, as children tend to do when around each other, we had fun dancing and playing energetically with them. Another way to express our true spirit!


You can also use a papertowel tube, and poke it with toothpicks or straight pins. Then tape up the ends.

For older children or teens, I would of spent more time talking about using the rainstick as a way to bring them back to their own sacred peaceful place. It is so important to teach children and teens ways to find a moment or two of inner peace. Using a rainstick, decorated guided by their inner self, and listening to its soothing power, is a way for them to calm their mind, and reconnect back to their inner self.

Each stick as unique as each child


Rainsticks are musical and ceremonial instruments used from ancient times to the present day. Their name describes the soothing rain-like sound that these instruments produce. Although rainsticks were used by many different cultures, they were primarily used in Chili where there is a legend that rainsticks were created to remind the spirits that rain was needed. 

Rainsticks are made from the wood skeleton of a dead cactus plant. The cactus needles are collected and poured back into the skeleton, along with tiny stones and pebbles. Other historic tubular rattles are made of either whole reeds (such as bamboo) or plaited reed strips. They have palm needles stuck into the walls of the tube, and are filled with pebbles or hard seeds.

Traditional-style cactus rainstick

1 comment:

  1. You're amazing! Such a blessing to have you in our lives during a time when we needed you!!