It’s no secret that California is suffering one of the worst droughts in it’s history. We really need some rain yo! In an effort to combine art, education and some good ol’ fashioned spiritual magic, we made rain sticks in art class last week. We even did a rain dance at the end of class and I was told that it did rain a little in San Francisco that night! I invite you all to join in and help us bring more rain to California. See the rain dance instructions at the end of the post : )
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To start this project you will need the following – packing tubes (you can buy them at your local shipping supply store or collect them over time like I did for free) lots and lots of washi tape or masking tape (I found this one was really easy for the kids to rip), sharpies, some extra cardboard, dry rice, beans, or beads, and some tinfoil.
I set the table up all pretty with the supplies. The set up is always one of my favorite parts. I included scissors so kids had a choice of ripping or cutting. When the kids arrived we talked about the drought and how it effects us. I showed them my own rainstick, told them a little about it’s history and we listened to the sounds that it made. This got the kids really excited. I tilted the rainstick ever so slightly so we had a really nice slow building rainstorm. Then I promised to show them my rain dance at the end of class. Everyone was really excited to get started.
They taped their little hearts out for almost 30 minutes. Like I said, some ripped the tape and some cut it with a scissor. For any kids that had a little trouble with the tape, I ripped any colors they wanted and set pieces on the side of the tape container. This is a great method for young ones, so they don’t get frustrated. If you have a helper with you they can keep ripping different pieces and set them out on the edge of the table so kids can grab what they need. Everyone was really engaged and excited by all the different choices of washi tape.
We had one older artist in class with us, which was great. She could help the younger ones, as well as make her own washi pattern you can see in the pic above. I love seeing how impressed she was with her work. So cool.
Once the kids were done taping they used the sharpies to color in different empty spaces, make polkadots and lines, and adding their names. This part was really fun. What kid doesn’t love sharpies, aka grown up markers?
They were also super excited to get into the sensory part of the rainsticks, running their fingers through the beans and rice and adding them to the tubes. First we taped pre cut cardboard circles to one side of the tube. Then I instructed each child to crinkle up ten pieces of tinfoil and drop it in their tube. The tinfoil slows down the rice and beans to make a nice rainstorm sound. After the tinfoil they scooped three scoops of whatever beans or rice they wanted from the containers. I love the concentrations on their faces.
When the tubes were full we taped on another cardboard circle to the top and the rain sticks were ready to work their magic. The kids were so proud and so happy with their accomplishment. They were shaking the rain sticks, hugging them, laughing and just having a great time.
This project was really interesting because I did it with two groups, both around the same age group, 4-7 year olds, and one cutie 2 year old in the pic above. The first group of all girls that did the project worked independently with great precision, carefully ripping the tape and adding it to their stick. The second group had a harder time with the tape and needed a lot more help ripping it. They preferred to work with the sharpies on their sticks. This was a great reminder for me that every child is different and each group has their own energy and preferences. If you’re trying this at home, please keep that in mind. What works for one, may not work for another so be prepared to go with the flow of your child.
Oh, and of course I had to teach them the rain dance I learned at sleep away camp 30 years ago! (I was and am a die hard camp girl.) It goes like this – please feel free to add your own tune and movements. I, I, I icky I, I, aynu. (repeat) Ah woosh, Ah woosh, ah eetchy, beetchy woosh. All my fathers let it rain, let it pour, let it storm. AH OOOOOOOO!!!! Please oh please give it at try. We need all the help we can get. Thanks everybody.