Australia Unit: Aboriginal Rain Sticks from Paper Towel Tubes

In my basement I probably have a hundred paper towel, toilet paper and gift wrap tubes. Why? Because they are an awesome craft foundation. You can make so many things from them. I’ll admit, I probably have too many, but that just means I need to make more things, right?

As we continue our study of Australia this month, I thought a paper towel tube was the perfect way to create a rain stick. Historically Australian Aboriginal’s allegedly used rain sticks to summon rain storms, as the outback can be quite unforgiving at times. They made these sticks from several species of cactus. The cacti, which are hollow, are dried in the sun, then filled with pebbles or beans and when it’s turned over, these cascade down the tubes and create the sound of rain. 

We first traced our tube around on construction paper, then cut out about 1/2 inch wider than the circle we had drawn.

We then cut little notches so we could lay it flat around the tube and used glue stick to secure it.

We did the same thing on the opposite end, but before we glued it shut, we poured a couple handfuls of dried pinto beans inside.

Next was the fun part of decorating our rain sticks. We used washi tape in fun colors. The “real” rainsticks wouldn’t be as colorful, but hey, why not.

At this point, my toddler woke up too early from her nap and we weren’t able to do any more on our sticks, so we set them aside for the next day.

Next we used leather string and tied feathers around one side as decoration. Some of the examples of “real” rainsticks had this look, and I had some grey and white feathers from another project a few years ago, so we used those. My kiddo wanted to stuff way too many feathers, her’s was “soooo fluffy!”

How fun are these??

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