Rain Stick Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson plan to teach your students about rain sticks. Students will read an informational text describing what rain sticks are, their history and how they're made. Discussion questions, hands-on learning and a quiz make this lesson active and memorable.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain what a rain stick is
  • describe how rain sticks are made
  • discuss the history of rain sticks


1 hour for the lesson, plus time for the activity

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3

Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.


  • Cardboard tubes from paper towel rolls, one for each student (consider asking them to bring from home)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Dry beans
  • Markers
  • Paper bags
  • Rubber bands
  • Yarn
  • Copies of the lesson Rain Sticks: History & Purpose, one for each student
  • Images of traditional rain dances

Key Vocabulary

  • Percussion


Warm Up

  • Divide students into partners and ask them to brainstorm a list of reasons for wanting it to rain.
  • After a few minutes, share ideas and discuss the benefits of rain.
  • Ask students to share how they get, keep and transport water. Give examples, such as irrigation for growing crops, storing in jugs and moving in a hose.
  • Now, have students imagine they didn't have a way to get water or a large storage system. Would rain be more important to them?

Lesson and Discussion

  • Inform students that people once had rituals to make it rain, and that today, the class will be learning about the rain stick. Share prior knowledge and distribute the lesson Rain Sticks: History & Purpose.
  • Read the first section 'The Sound of Rain' together and ask:
    • What is an artifact?
    • What other artifacts were used in rain dances?
    • What does it mean that 'evidence of rain sticks being used in traditional tribal ceremonies is slim?'
    • How are rain sticks used today?
  • Show students images of rain dances and allow them to comment and discuss.
  • Now, read the section 'How Are Rain Sticks Made?' and discuss:
    • Why is the rain stick a percussion instrument?
    • What are rain sticks made from?
    • How were rain sticks from different cultures unique?
  • Next, read the section 'Where Might It Have Come From?' and have partners discuss:
    • What do we know for sure about the rain stick?
    • Where do we think the rain stick originated? Why?
    • How are rain sticks represented in myth, legend and cultural history?
    • Do you think using the rain stick really made it rain?
  • Read the 'Lesson Summary' together and take the quiz to check understanding of concepts.

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