Recycled Rainstick Craft

The library is celebrating Latino history with a variety of programs, book displays, special story times and more! One way you can continue this fun at home is to create a rainstick based on those used by the Aztecs. The Aztecs believed that they could summon rain storms by using rainsticks. Originally they were made from pieces of hollow cacti that were dried in the sun. The spines from the cacti were driven into the cacti like nails, and pebbles or other small objects were placed inside. To complete the rainstick, the ends were sealed. When the rain stick was tipped, the pebbles would fall through the tube and bump against the spines. This would create a sound like faRainstick_01lling rain.

Now, I’m not going to ask you to go find a cactus for this project. There is a simple, child-friendly rainstick you and your kids can create.

What you will need:

  • Empty canister (such as a Pringles can) or paper towel tube
  • Aluminum foil
  • Pencil
  • Uncooked rice, uncooked beans, and/or popcorn kernels
  • Tape
  • Construction paper


  1. If your tube or canister is not already sealed on one end, use construction paper and tape to seal it off.
  2. Roll your aluminum foil into a long snake. Twist it around a pencil into a spring-like shape. You want your coil to be as long as your tube and at least as thick around as your pencil. Put this into the tube.
  3. Put about two adult handfuls of “pebbles” into your tube.
  4. Seal off the other end of your tube
  5. Decorate!

When you slowly tip the tube over, the small objects will fall against the aluminum foil coil and make a sound like falling rain.  Experiment with different lengths of tubes and a variety of small objects to hear the different sounds they make.

Want to teach your kids more about the Aztecs? Check out some books on the topic!