DIY "Rain Stick / Shaker"

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Music is a rich framework that can so easily be used to promote all kinds of development. As a pediatric speech-language pathologist who loves to sing, I've done a fair amount of research into the connections between music and early learning (especially when it comes to the connections between music education and communication development).

As we discussed on our corresponding podcast episode, Why Sing?, when we sing, we are modeling so many things - including (but not limited to) vocabulary and phrasing patterns or grammatical structures, expressions of feelings and thoughts, attention and listening skills, and something called "joint attention," or the shared attention between you and your baby upon an outside object. 

In this case, that joint attention can be focused on a simple DIY instrument or shaker, that you or your young child can play or enjoy exploring. It makes a soft calming sound, it can be pushed or manipulated by even the tiniest of people quite easily!


  • Empty (round edges) spice jar that you have saved or purchased (glass or plastic)
  • Rice, lentils or other small grain/kernel
  • Duct tape or other reliable tape


  1. If you care to, remove any labels by soaking container in hot water and peeling off. 
  2. Pour in your grain/kernel, filling about 1/2 -  3/4 of the way to the top (or experimenting with different levels of fullness for different sounds
  3. Cover the seal entirely with duct tape to prevent escaping grains/kernels
  4. For best results, roll on carpeted surface - on wooden or other surfaces, the sound of rolling will overpower the contents. Alternate on various surfaces to highlight the differences!


From birth:

  • Roll back in forth in Baby's vicinity - the sound is soft and not too overwhelming
  • Place near Baby's hands or feet to allow wandering fingers and toes to experience early notions of cause and effect
  • Baby may roll, pick up, shake - all different ways to make sound with and manipulate this simple instrument!

IF you prefer to simply purchase a rainstick, you can find a few of my favorites below.

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Ayelet Marinovich, M.A. CCC-SLP

Ayelet Marinovich, M.A. CCC-SLP, is a pediatric speech-language pathologist specializing in work with pre-verbal infants, toddlers, non-verbal children, and their families. The Strength In Words podcast and blog were created as an additional resource for families of young children with infants & toddlers of all developmental levels. It is not intended to be a substitute for speech and language therapy.