Rain sticks produce the soothing sound of falling rain that can calm you down and give you peace of mind. You can build one of these percussion instruments by recycling materials you have at home: just insert nails or toothpicks into a cardboard tube, fill it with a granular material, such as rice or beans, and plug it on both sides. For a more kid-friendly project, you can insert rolled foil into the tube.
Part 1 of 3: Organizing the Necessary Materials
Step 1. Get a cardboard tube
You need a sturdy cardboard tube to use as a stick frame. Avoid those that are not stiff, because the material must be strong enough to withstand many nail or toothpick punctures. You can use either a recycled or a new tube for this project.
- You can use a tube of potato chips, a roll (finished) of toilet paper or gift paper.
- You can purchase a cardboard shipping tube at the post office, stationery or shipping stores.
Step 2. If necessary, make caps for the sides of the stick
Some tubes, such as those for shipping or those containing chips, already come with caps, while other rolls do not. To make them, you need construction paper, a pencil and a pair of scissors.
- Put a tube base on the construction paper.
- Trace the perimeter of the base.
- Draw a second circle around the first. They should be separated by about 1.5 cm.
- Draw 6-12 rays between the two circles. You will use them to glue the cap to the tube.
- Cut around the circumference of the second circle.
- Cut along each radius.
Step 3. Choose the filling material
The sweet sound of a rain stick is created by a material, such as rice, falling between a maze of stationary objects, such as nails. You can fill your stick with one or more different materials. The most common choices include:
- Dried beans.
- Corn grains.
- Small pasta.
Part 2 of 3: Insert the Nails, Toothpicks or Tinfoil
Step 1. Drive the nails into the cylinder with a hammer
The nails are perfect for thicker tubes, such as those for shipping or that contain chips. Choose them shorter than the diameter of the tool. With the help of an adult, use a hammer to insert them at random intervals; you can hold them still while an adult hits them or vice versa. To secure them in place, line the stick with duct tape.
- You can insert as many nails as you like into the tube.
- To decorate the stick, use colored or patterned tape.
- By using nails of different sizes, the sound will be more interesting!
Step 2. Insert toothpicks into the tube
This is the best solution for narrower rolls, such as those of toilet paper; the diameter of the cylinder should be smaller than that of the toothpick. You need the help of an adult to complete this step.
- If you want to decorate the stick, do so before inserting the toothpicks.
- Use a sewing needle or thumbtack to punch holes at random intervals in the sides of the tube. Try to make 80-100 holes.
- Insert the toothpicks between one hole and another. The tips should stay outside the tool. Repeat this 40-50 times, changing the angle of each toothpick.
- Pour a drop of glue on both ends of all toothpicks.
- Once the glue has dried, cut the tips with pliers.
Step 3. Fill the tube with rolled up aluminum foil
This is the ideal material for a small child. You will need two sheets of foil that are 15 cm wide and about three-quarters of the length of the cylinder. Roll them into a long snake-like spiral and then form a coil.
After plugging one side of the tube, insert the aluminum spiral
Part 3 of 3: Fill and Seal the Stick
Step 1. Tap one side of the tool
If you made the covers, place one side of the tube in the center of the cardboard stopper. Fold the spokes inward and glue them. Let the glue dry.
- If the tube already had caps, put one on.
- You can reinforce the cap with tape or rubber bands.
Step 2. Pour the filling material into the stick
Do it carefully. If the tube opening is narrow, use a funnel.
If you have decided to use the aluminum spiral, insert it into the tube before pouring the material
Step 3. Test the stick and add more material as needed
Cover the open side with your hand or put the remaining cap on. Turn the instrument over and listen: if the sound produced satisfies you, go to the next step. If you are not happy with the result, you can correct the problem by making changes to the material.
- Add more material.
- Remove some of the material.
- Try a different material.
Step 4. Plug the other side of the pipe
Put the cap over the open side of the roll. Fold all the spokes to the outside of the cardboard and glue them. Once the glue has dried, enjoy your new tool!
- When the glue is dry, it will no longer be sticky. Read the instructions on the package if you are unsure.
- You can reinforce the caps with tape or rubber bands.
- Beans and rice make slightly different sounds.
- The amount of beans to use depends on the length of the tube. Pour in enough to get the sound you want.