Thursday, January 31, 2019

// // Leave a Comment

Rainstick Instrument Craft - A Sensory Activity for Preschoolers

A rainstick instrument is a sensorimotor activity perfect for older preschoolers to craft themselves and younger preschoolers and toddlers to play with! Bonus: it fits weather, rain, and Spring themes too! And it actually sounds like rain!

The latest course I've taken with Childcare Education Institute (CCEI) is Bright Beginnings: Age Appropriate Activities for Infants and Toddlers. One of my favorite parts of the CCEI670 course was the discussion on sensory activities and how they are important for cognitive development. I love sensory activities, and this course inspired me to plan more sensory-based learning into our schedule.

To start off my sensory-based learning, I decided to create rainsticks!

Did you know that rainsticks were probably first made by indigenous people in Chile? They dried hollow cacti, broke the thorns off them, then pierced the thorns inside the cactus to make a bumpy path for pebbles that they added inside the stick. When the ends were sealed and the stick was turned upside down it sounded like pouring water! Similar instruments were made from hollow bamboo in Asia and Africa!

I was really excited about focusing on our sense of hearing for this project! Since we didn't have any cool cacti, I decided to use the tubes inside aluminum foil rolls instead. You could also use paper towel tubes, but they aren't quite as sturdy. I also decided to use wires instead of thorns since, again, we didn't have the thorns from the cool cacti.  ;) 

How to Make a Rainstick Instrument:

Simple Supplies:
* tube from aluminum foil
* wire (I just used what I had at could use other things that interrupt the beans from falling straight down!)
* dry beans
* duct tape (I actually used gorilla tape because I love the stuff!)
* pencil

This is the wire I had, but I'm sure lots of other wires would work too:

Easy How To:
1- Coil the wire by wrapping it around a pencil. Then occasionally bend the coils so they aren't perfectly uniform. Stick the wire in the tube.

My preschooler really enjoyed this part!

2- Duct tape one end closed, add about 1/4 cup of dry beans, then tape the other end closed.

3- You could decorate it (and we might in the future), but I kinda like how the plain tube reminds me of a cactus! I do think it would be really fun to glue different textured fabrics to the stick, so there's an extra sensory element involved in playing it, but our family is in the middle of a move and my fabric is packed away! Maybe we'll make more rainsticks after we finish moving, and I can update this with some pictures then!

Anyway, at this point you can let your preschoolers "play" their rainsticks by tipping them up and down, shaking them, rolling them, or however else they like!

Let them experiment with the sounds they can make, then challenge them to try the following with you:

* Can you make a loud sound?
* Can you make a soft sound?
* Can you play a rhythm?
* Can you copy my rhythm?
* Can you play your rainstick standing up?
* Can you play your rainstick standing on one foot?
* Can you play your rainstick while jumping?
* Can you play your rainstick walking?
* Can you play your rainstick sitting down?
* Can you make up words to go with your music?
* Can you think of a way to play your rainstick that we haven't done?

These activities strengthen gross motor skills, balance, coordination, listening skills, and paves the way for early math and science skills to develop! Music promotes healthy development in the same parts of the brain that your preschoolers will use for more advanced math skills soon!

Sensory activities like this one provide a wonderful platform for language growth, so be sure to sing and talk during and after the time you spend playing your rainsticks!  I designed this sensory activity and lesson for you using information I learned in the Bright Beginnings: Age Appropriate Activities for Infants & Toddlers course from ChildCare Education Institute.  

The course included fascinating information about how brains develop in babies and toddlers, and ways to use that information to create a stimulating environment that will help young children develop in each major domain and stage. 

Like all courses at he ChildCare Education Institute, this course is taught through a series of slides like these:

The slides also contain videos, quizzes, and open-ended questions:

I really enjoyed ChildCare Education Institute's course CCEI670: Bright Beginnings: Age Appropriate Activities for infants & Toddlers, and I highly recommend it for both parents and preschool/toddler teachers! The information about how the brain uses sensory information to develop is important for everybody who works with babies and toddlers! The course also includes the four developmental domains (physical, cognitive, language, and social and emotional), stages of early childhood development, and activities that can help develop skills in each of those stages. 

The course also included several reflective questions, intermittent multiple choice questions, and a 10-question final. After passing the multiple choice questions and final, you receive a printable certificate of completion and one CEU hour! 

Here's a copy of my certificate:

You can click HERE to read my review of using CCEI for professional development. It is all online, and I am happily recommending them! I have learned new things in each course I've taken with them..and I already have a Master's degree in education! I also really appreciate the fact that the "hours" are very reasonable. The courses that were labeled "1 clock hour" took very close to one clock hour, and the course I took that was labeled "2 clock hours" took very close to two clock hours.

You navigate through course work, printing certificates, and choosing courses through an online system with a "navigation bar" on the left of your screen:

I have truly enjoyed working with ChildCare Education Institute during the last two months, and have already told people about them "in real life!" I would love to chat with you more about my experience--feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

What is your favorite sensory activity? Do you think of sensory activities when you are trying to develop language and gross motor skills? Have you made musical instruments before?

You know I'd love to hear from you!! Feel free to send me an email and let me know what you're up to! Or leave a comment!

This post is sponsored by ChildCare Education Institute (CCEI). Like always, my opinions are my own, and I only recommend products that I  love to use myself!

Happy Educating,

Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

I may share at any of these parties!

Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!