Make Your Own Rain Stick

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This activity provides step-by-step instructions on how to build a rain stick, a musical instrument originating in South America. With a cardboard tube, some nails, and a handful of uncooked beans or rice, you'll be able to reproduce the sound of a rainstorm--anytime, anywhere!

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • Cardboard tube (a paper towel roll is okay, but a long tube from gift-wrapping paper is even better. You can also take two or three paper towel rolls and tape them together.)
  • Marker
  • About 60 1-inch nails
  • Tape (masking or packing tape is good)
  • Rice and/or small beans (uncooked!)
  • Paper


  • Physical Sciences
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Sound

Informal Categories

  • Music


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • hear
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Murphy, Pat ; Klages, Ellen ; Shore, Linda


  • All rights reserved, The Exploratorium, 1999