DIY Sensory Bottles: Rain Stick

DIY Rain Stick Sensory Bottle for preschoolers

I am going to start making lots of different sensory bottles with Luke and Lilah, my preschool-aged children.  As we perfect them, we’ll share them with you.  Here’s the first one: a DIY rain stick sensory bottle.  Rain sticks are fun for the youngest baby all the way to adults!  Not only do they sound very soothing, they are fun to watch the grains trickle down as you turn them over.  This is a great project just for the sensory aspect in and of itself, but would also go along nicely with a science unit on weather or as a do-it-yourself instrument to add to your music or circle time, too!

Materials needed:
*Clear plastic bottle with cap
*Lots of wooden toothpicks
*Wooden skewers (optional)
*Small uncooked grains (quinoa, amaranth)


We started by making this in a plastic tea bottle, but found that a taller bottle was better because it gave the grains more time to fall and sound like rain, so we used a Glaceau SmartWater bottle.  (We bought a case of 12 at BJ’s because we wanted lots of bottles.)

I removed the label from the bottle once it was empty and removed the stickiness with Goo Gone, following the directions on the Goo Gone bottle.  

Next L&L dropped wooden toothpicks into the bottle.  We stuck in a few long wooden skewers as diagonally as possible to keep the toothpicks from all ending up vertical in the bottle.  I’m not sure if this really helped, but it didn’t hurt.  We filled the bottle with toothpicks until they nearly reached the top.

Then we used a funnel to add the smallest uncooked grains we could find in our pantry.  We attempted this with rice first as I’d seen some rain sticks made with rice previously, and then even with wheat grains, but all of those were too large to flow freely enough to make much of a “rain” sound.  Yes, this meant dumping our bottle out and refilling it with toothpicks twice, so I am telling you the insider’s way to do it so you don’t make my mistakes!! 

We found that tiny grains worked best, so we added a little bit of quinoa and a lot of amaranth.  If you don’t already have these, you can probably find them in your local health food store’s bulk bins so you can buy just the small portion you need.  Ours came from Whole Foods.

When you have the toothpicks and grains in your bottle, screw the cap on tightly and turn it over.  Shake gently if needed to get the grains to fall.  Listen to the “rain” sound.  Then repeat.

Once you have your bottle perfected (I’d wait a day or two to make sure you’ve got everything right), glue the lid on and let your kids have fun making rain sounds to their heart’s content! :)

Here’s our bottle at rest:

DIY Rain Stick sensory bottle do it yourself rain stick sensory bottle using SmartWater bottle

toothpicks, wooden skewers, small grains 


Though it’s a shame you can’t hear it, here’s our bottle in action:



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