Running A Carnival Kid Craft Booth: Aztec Rain Stick

This year our pre-school ran a carnival fund-raiser.  In Latin American culture, they’re referred to as “Kermesse”.  The origins of the word “Kermesse” are quite interesting if you click on the link-  I didn’t realize the school and church-fund-raising festivals were so widely referred to by this term until I read the article.

I originally signed up for the face painting booth.  Easy-peasy.

But, my best friend is head of the Parents Committee and she knows I blog about crafting so I was involuntarily shifted to the arts and crafts booth.

We had tons of toilet paper and paper towel rolls to use up for crafting so I decided that we could make Aztec Rain Sticks.  Here’s the one hanging in our house.

I had seen Counting Coconuts and The Imagination Tree make DIY rain sticks by hammering nails around the tube.

So, I tried one at home before the carnival using a thicker wrapping paper tube that could support the nails safely.

The only problem is, although I could supervise my own kids with such a craft,  I couldn’t seriously give a bunch of pre-schoolers and toddlers I didn’t know thin toilet paper rolls pierced with nails to take home.

That seemed inherently unwise.  And wrought with potential liability.  🙂

So, I thought for awhile about how to make a no-nail rain stick.

I haven’t bothered to google or pinterest whether my idea is remotely original because it appears that original ideas are becoming harder and harder to come by.

Someone’s always beating us to the punch and I’m relatively new to the kid-craft world.  🙂

I tried putting squiggly straws into the rolls thinking the grains would hit the curves.  But, the straws were too wide and stretched the toilet paper rolls. Fail.

Squiggle Straws, Twisty Straws, Fun StrawsThen, I thought that pipe cleaners might make good channels that the rice and beans could pass through if we coiled them well enough.

So, here’s what we used.

  • Masking Tape
  • Duct Tape
  • Toilet Paper Rolls
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Mixed grains and pasta (rice, popcorn kernels, beans, mini- penne pasta)
  • Foam Stickers

Many of the children at the Kermesse spoke Spanish.  So, I had to work on my own Spanish.

As I closed up the ends of the toilet paper rolls with duct tape and cleaned up the seams with masking tape, I asked each child to take four pipe cleaners and:

“Haz cuatro serpientes” 

Make Four Snakes…

Note:  You’ll want to place a square of tape or paper against the sticky part of the masking tape that the grains will come in contact with.  Otherwise, your grains will end up all sticking to the inside once it’s shaken.

Then, I told the kids to:

“Pon las serpientes adentro”

Put the snakes inside…

Using a small gravy boat I found for a dollar at a local grocery market, the kids poured the grains carefully into the tubes over the coiled “serpiente” pipe cleaners.

This is great practice for fine motor skills.

Once I closed up the tubes with duct tape and sealed them off with masking tape (again, having placed a small square of tape on the sticky side so that the grains wouldn’t stick once shaken), it was time for the kids to decorate their rain sticks with foam stickers.

They really do sound like rain when you place them upside down and the grains and kernels travel through the sinews of the coiled “serpent” pipe cleaners.

Before each of the booth iterations, I showed the kids the Aztec rain stick we have hanging in our home and I showed the parents the rain stick made with nails.  The sounds are definitely more crisp with the nails.

Many of the parents planned to put the nails into their kids’ rainsticks once they got home and could supervise them.

This is a really great activity to do with your kids- especially on a hot day when you want it to rain so you can get out the galoshes and go puddle-stomping with the kids.

My only recommendation if you get suckered into running an arts and crafts booth by your over-achieving best friend who is the President of the Parents Committee, you can save a lot of time by closing up the ends of the paper towel and toilet paper rolls in advance.  🙂

Let Us Know If You Make Them!  

Or If You Have Any Other Nail-Free Rainstick Ideas!


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27 Responses to Running A Carnival Kid Craft Booth: Aztec Rain Stick

  1. Great post, you made me giggle…and I still have an image of a bunch of little kids running around with hammers and nails. I love your rain stick too of course. 🙂

    • Ali- Thank you so much for the comment! 🙂 I seriously considered using the nails, or even worse- tacks- haha! But, knew that was a bad, bad idea. 🙂

    • Thanks, Ava! I know you’re not a crafter- but I’d love to see some Filipino crafts one day! 🙂

  2. Your Rain Sticks are awesome. I’ve never heard of them – probably because we get almost as much rain in New York as in Seattle. But hammering nails into anything is my boys favorite thing to do – so, we’ll have to give it a try. Great job!

    • Nami- I would try to find a harder-type roll- maybe the kind in some wrapping paper rolls or even a document mailer….the nails won’t penetrate through as easily. 🙂

    • Victoria- I seriously am enjoying all this arts and crafts stuff. I never, ever did any of this stuff until I had kids- and I think watching you work with our daughter made me want to be able to that kind of thing with my kids, too. 🙂 She’s still into art. We painted river rocks tonight- and she just got her first watercolor pencil set which she loves. 🙂 Thanks so much for helping her and me to discover art. 🙂

      • Thank you, it was such a pleasure. Really. It was awesome working with her. Isn’t it great how she can make decisions so quickly, there is so much planning and precision to everything she does, but she does it so fast.. and the way she explains everything, it’s captivating, you just want to hear it all, and more, and more, just like her Mama 🙂

        • Haha! I’m pretty taken by her. She knows it, too. She tells me “I’m berry smart!” or “I’m berry talented!” hahaha!

  3. Cool idea! Good on ya for figuring it out. That’s the best way, I think. It’s more fun to figure it out yourself (and then think you’ve come up with something original) 🙂 Ha ha – you know what I mean. I’m glad you didn’t let the kiddos loose with the nails 🙂

    • Chrissy- Yeah- I figured giving a bunch of kids tetanus might reduce the odds of me winning the “most spirited” carnival booth. 🙂

  4. Great idea! I won’t be making them since it’s a big, wet, sloppy mess up here almost all the time…but I’ll store it away in case we get stationed somewhere nice. 😉

    • Bridget- I know it’s awful up there! I hope your package gets there soon- 🙂 It was mailed awhile ago. 🙂

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  6. Very nicely done. I’ve never seen them with pipe cleaners. We have rolled aluminum foil into “sticks” and then twisted them like you did your pipe cleaners. Your answer is easier.

    • Lisa- I cannot tell you how long I tried to think of a nails-free way to do this craft. I purposefully didn’t google or pinterest to see if anyone had done it with pipe cleaners but after I ran the post, I checked and it appears that there is a link on eHow using aluminum foil (like you did) or pipe cleaners (like I did). Original ideas are hard to come by- Oh well. They say that Thomas Edison wasn’t actually the first to invent the light bulb- he was just the first to patent it. 🙂

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