The kids thought it was pretty cool to look down inside the tubes and see the pattern made by the spiraling nails.
The students put tape over the nail heads, to secure them.
Because we were using mailing tubes, we had caps that fit snugly in the ends of the tubes. But if you are using other cardboard tubes, you can make end caps out of cereal box cardboard, to attach with tabs and masking tape. Put a cap on just one end, and then test the rain stick for sound, using a selection from rice, beans, popcorn, split peas, barley, and lentils. (You can also use pebbles or beads.) If the filling moves too fast through the tube, dump it out and add more nails. The best rain sticks can have 100+ nails! Different fillings will make totally different sounds - rice for a soft rain, popcorn for a good steady rain, beans for a heavy shower, and so on. My students liked making a mix of various ingredients.
This 2nd grade boy, below, decided to make his rain stick look like my giant fake pencil. The big hunk of orange felt is a pencil grip that he added.
A sample of the insane over-imbellishment!
Below are my samples that I shared with the kids prior to them making their own rain sticks.