First page of the document

Craft Around the World Series South America: Chile & Argentina Rain Sticks


May 11, 2021 - <>

Enjoy learning how to make simple crafts from six of the seven continents: Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, North America and South America.


Introduce youth to some simple cultural traditional crafts from around the world.  Journey around the continents, learning how to make simple crafts and having fun creating.


  • Learn the cultural history and origins of the craft.
  • Inspire global exploration.
  • Develop fine motor skills in drawing, cutting, and design.
  • Increase cultural awareness and creativity.

 Education Standards:

  • Understand the visual arts in relation to history and culture.
  • Apply geometric methods to solve design problems.

 Experiential Learning:

  • Create a cultural tool.

Encourage thought and discussion with these questions:

 What happened? What's important? So what? Now what?

Audience:  Grades K-12


Home to 12 countries, South America is the fourth largest of the world’s continents.


Chile and Argentina share the world’s third-longest international boarder, which runs north to south along the Andes Mountains.

A 1957 document 4-H Around the World: Extension Circular 0-19-2 shows that in 1956 of countries with 4-H or 4-H type organizations, Argentina’s Clubes Rurales Juveniles (4-A) had 20,000 members and Chile’s 4-C had1,200 members. Today, 4-S (Saber, Sentimientos, Serricio, Salud) 4-H Argentina continues doing great hands-on learning experiences – Movimiento 4-H.


Rain sticks were traditionally made from dried cactus, reeds, or bamboo and then filled with pebbles or beans. It is believed that they were used by indigenous farming tribes in the high, dry deserts where it does not rain often with the hopes for rain for their crops. When turned over, the rain stick makes a sound like rain falling. Some say that the instrument was invented by the Aztecs of Mexico, and that it later spread throughout Central and South America. Musicians use rain sticks today.


TIME: 30-45 minutes or multiple days depending upon the interest to learn more.


  • Cardboard paper tubes from paper towel or wrapping paper
  • Piece of cardboard large enough to cut circles to fit on ends of carboard tube (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Tape (clear packing or duct tape work best), glue, or rubber bands
  • Foil or chenille stems, or toothpicks
  • Rice, beans, corn, or pebbles (or a mixture of two or more)
  • Brown paper or colored paper
  • Markers, colored pencils, or paint
  • Paintbrushes, if painting
  • Feathers, beads, and other decorations
  • String or yarn
  • Samples (optional)


PROCEDURE:  How to make a Rain Stick

Use these instructions as a guide to help youth make a rain stick.  Encourage experimentation in decorating, design and materials.

  1. Trace the round end of the tubes onto cardboard or thick paper to make two circles. Cut out the circles to fit onto the two openings of the tube.
  2. Tape and glue one circle on to one end of the tube.
  3. Choose one of two ways to create a different sound as your rice, beans, corn, or pebbles flow through your rain stick:
  4. Toothpicks: Carefully push toothpicks through the tube so they come out the other side (start the holes with a pin). Push in 12 to 14 toothpicks in various places around the tube. Put a drop of glue on either end of the tube where toothpicks stick out. Break off any pieces that stick out too far.
  5. Chenille stems or foil: Twist chenille stems into a spiral or crimp the foil into a spiral form. Add either or both coils inside the tube.
  6. Pour in a mixture of rice, corn, beans, and pebbles (or just one of these, depending on the sound to be created). Pour in about a 1/2 cup for a paper towel tube and more for larger tubes.
  7. Glue and tape the other cardboard or paper circle to seal the tube.
  8. Cover the tube with brown paper or colored paper. Tape or glue to hold it together.
  9. Cut two small squares of the brown or colored paper. Cover each end with a square. Fasten each in place with a rubber band.
  10. Decorate the tube with designs or to look like a cactus or wrap with string or yarn, add decorative feathers and beads, painting, or other ideas.
  11. Trace the round end of the tubes onto cardboard or thick paper to make two circles.  Cut out the circles to fit onto the two openings of the tube.

Art and Science - Be creative with your design.  Experiment for different musical sounds!

Experiment with different types of materials, try different types of containers, think of the environment and use recyclable  materials, and try different techniques. Ask questions and make discoveries!

What other uses can you think of for your rain stick?

Reflection Questions: What surprised you and why? When were you the most creative, and why do you think that is? What made you curious today? What can you do with what you learned today?


University of Nebraska–Lincoln. (1957). 4-H around the world: Extension circular 0-19-2. Nebraska 4-H clubs: Historical materials and publications. 30.


The activity was developed by Michigan State University Extension Educator Janis Brinn in 2020. It is adapted from  the National 4-H curriculum Que Rico! La Cultura (4HCCS BU-08180), pgs. 26–29. It was updated in 2021.




Accessibility Questions:

For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at