Rainforest Rain Sticks

Children will learn about the rainforest and make rain sticks.

Lesson Objective

Children will learn about the rainforest, a unique habitat with extreme amounts of rain, and will create rain sticks.


What You'll Need

  • Styrofoam packing peanuts – 1-1/2 cups for each child
  • Aquarium gravel – 2 Tablespoons per child
  • Paper towel rolls – one for each child
  • Rubber bands – two for each child
  • Measuring spoon – 1 Tablespoon
  • Brown construction paper
  • Glue
  • Markers or crayons

What To Do

  1. Cut the brown paper into circles twice as wide as the opening of the paper towel rolls. Make two circles for each child.
  2. Give each child a paper towel roll and the markers or crayons. 
  3. Have the children decorate the paper towel roll using the markers or crayons.
  4. Give each child one circle, one rubber band, and some glue.
  5. Have them spread glue around the edge of the brown circle and then cap one end of the paper towel roll. 
  6. Use the rubber band to keep the circle on the bottom until it dries. 
  7. Help the children fill their tubes with the styrofoam packing peanuts. Fill the tube, but do not pack the “peanuts” tightly.
  8. Have each child measure out 1 or 2 tablespoons of aquarium gravel and pour it into the tube.
  9. Show them how to carefully set the tube, cap side down, on the table while they cap the other end of the paper towel with the second circle. Once again, they should secure the circle with a rubber band.
  10. Let the glue dry. Remove the rubber bands.
  11. The rain stick works by holding it straight up and down and then slowly flipping it over so that the aquarium gravel flows from the top to the bottom of the paper towel roll. As the aquarium gravel flows through the tube, it sounds like rainfall.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Compare the rainforest to where we live. Is it similar? Is it different? How?
  • Can you think of some other ways that we could make the sound of rain?
  • The weather in the rainforest is very sunny and very rainy. Can you tell me about the type of weather we have in our community or habitat?
  • What animals live in the rainforest?
  • What would happen if the tube only had aquarium gravel in it? What if the tube only had styrofoam in it?
  • How can you make the rain in your tube sound quiet? Loud? Slow? Fast?

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Let the children share and compare their rain sticks. Do they all sound the same or do they sound different?
  • Do the project again and let the children brainstorm what should be put inside the paper towel rolls. Use a variety of their suggestions and compare the results.
  • When the rains sticks are complete, put them in the dramatic play area and allow the children to use them to play with.
  • Next time it rains, have the children close their eyes, and listen carefully to the sound of the rain. Then take out the rain sticks and see if they think the rain outside sounds like the noise the rain sticks make.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Was each child able to complete a rain stick?
  • Could the children explain some of the features of a rainforest?
  • Did the children understand and connect the sound made with the tube as similar to the sound of rain falling in the rainforest?


Did You Know

Rainforests are hot, moist forests with very tall trees and dense vegetation. The climate is warm year-round and there is about the same amount of sunlight every day. Rainforests receive approximately 80 inches of rain per year. As a result, the plants and fungi in the rainforest can grow to startling proportions, with some treetops reaching 270 feet tall. A rainforest is different than a jungle because a jungle has thick undergrowth. The dense vegetation at the top of a rainforest does not allow enough sunlight to reach the ground underneath, keeping plants from growing on the rainforest floor.

Rainforests house about half of all the world’s plants and animals yet cover only 2% of the Earth’s surface. Rainforests have 170,000 of the world’s 250,000 known plant species. The Amazon rainforest in Brazil is the largest rainforest in the world. Some of the animals found in the rainforest are boa constrictors, orangutans, and toucans. Some of the things that come from the rainforest that are part of our everyday lives are chocolate, sugar, cinnamon, rubber, and pineapples.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • rainforest  a dense forest found in tropical areas, that has a lot of rain all year long.
  • jungle – land covered with lots of trees, vines, and bushes.
  • hot – holding heat, burning.
  • habitat – the natural environment or home of an animal.
  • tube – a long, hollow object like the inside of a toilet paper roll; made of different materials.
  • soggy – completely wet; heavy with water; soaked.

Lesson Tips

  • If you do not have styrofoam peanuts, you can use cotton balls.
  • Sand or beads could be used in place of the aquarium gravel.
  • Instead of using markers or crayons to decorate the tubes, use water colors, or paint, or use glue and wrap yarn around them.


  • The Rainforest Grew All Around by Susan K. Mitchell and Connie McLellan
  • Over in the Jungle: A Rain Forest Rhyme by Marianne Berkes
  • The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry
  • Amazing Animals: Rainforest Romp by Tony Milton

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

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Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS