I'm a fourth grade teacher and we made rainsticks today in my classroom..The students love it! After a study of rainforests and after reading the book The Rainstick a Fable we make them out of poster tubes we buy from the post office (they're sturdy) by pounding nails in a spiral and filling with rice and aquarium gravel. Then the students cover with decorated paper bags cut to fit. They sound like the real thing! Rainsticks were used in past cultures in ceremonies to bring on rain. The book I mentioned includes some history on rainsticks.