The Classroom Package: Other Fun Stuff

Rain Sticks

Rain sticks are not traditionally made in the Amazon, but since they make a great rain sound and are made in South America, they make a fun activity to do while studying the rain forest. In Chile, indigenous people make rain sticks out of dried cactus stalks. They press thorns into the hollow shaft, add small pebbles, then seal and decorate the instrument. Here are a couple of activities that simulate the real thing:

For Older Students

Materials needed


1. Beginning at one end of the tube, push nails into the tube about 1/2 to 1 inch apart, making a spiral pattern as you move toward the other end of the tube.

2. Seal one end of the tube with masking tape.

3. Pour popcorn kernels into the open end of the tube. Cover the open end with your hand and test the sound as you tip the tube. Add or take away nails as you deem necessary to get the best sound.

4. Seal the open end with masking tape.

5. Using strips of newspaper dipped in liquid starch or flour paste, cover the entire tube (including the ends) with two layers of papier mache. (Tip: You may want to use plain white newsprint for the second layer of papier mache so the ink form the newspaper strips won't show through.)

6. Let dry overnight.

7. If using tissue paper instead of paint: Cut selected colors of tissue paper into strips and papier mache them to the tube in a pattern of your choice. (Tip: Wear a smock! Tissue paper stains, but the effect is very nice - well, on the rain stick that is.)

8. If using paint instead of tissue paper: Paint the pattern of your choice on the stick using gloss or semi-gloss latex paint (though water-based paints will certainly work if working with younger students).

9. Let dry overnight.

10. Add designs (flowers, Native American motifs, music symbols, etc.) if you wish.

11. (Optional) Spray with several coats of lacquer to seal the surface.

For fun, play a rain forest sounds tape while you're making them.

Source: Networks Magazine by Plank Road Publishing.

For Younger Students   Materials Needed Procedures

1. Put a fine line of glue down the center of one strip of poster board and lay the other strip on top of it.

2. After the glue is dry, cut slits down the long sides of the glued-together poster board strips (that is cut the strips through both strips) one inch apart that don't quite go to the middle.

3. Fold the flaps in opposite directions to create a paper core with four spokes.

4. Slide the paper core into the tube and twist it a few times as it goes in to form a spiral. You may have to fiddle with the flaps to get them to fit in the tube.

5. Close one end of the tube with tape.

6. Pour the rice into the tube.

7. Test the sound and twist the core more if the sound needs adjusting.

8. Close the other end of the tube with tape.

9. Decorate the tube using whatever materials and motifs you prefer.

For fun, play a rain forest sounds tape while you're making them.

Source: The Fox Club Magazine




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Amazon Rain Forest  
The Galapagos Islands

Latin America Classrom Travel Resources

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