Immediately following the seven days of Sukkot is a slightly lesser-known holiday called Shemini Atzeret. It’s during this holiday that we add a special prayer for rain (called tefilat geshem) into the Amidah (Jewish liturgy’s standing prayer) until Passover. Saying this prayer helps us feel closer to the land and people of Israel since it’s the start of the country’s rainy season, which is necessary to help crops grow. Teaching our children about the importance of rain, as well as how to conserve water, are great lessons, and this rain stick craft using a recycled water bottle can jumpstart the conversation.

Materials:

  • Tall plastic water bottle with cap
  • Goo Gone
  • Three boxes wooden toothpicks
  • 6-8 long wooden skewers
  • Funnel (or paper shaped into a cone)
  • Small uncooked grains, like quinoa, amaranth or millet (look in the bulk section of your grocery store, but avoid rice because it’s too big and doesn’t flow well through the bottle)
  • Glue
  • Peel-and-stick foam letters/shapes or Sharpie markers

Directions:

  • Use Goo Gone to remove the label and sticky residue from the water bottle.
  • Have your child carefully drop the toothpicks into the bottle to create a layer 3-4 inches up the bottle. Add several wooden skewers diagonally to help ensure the toothpicks don’t all end up vertical. Continue filling with toothpicks until close to the top before inserting additional skewers to help “hold” the angled toothpicks in place.
  • Use a funnel or shape one from paper to help your child add the grains to the bottle. (My son was really excited to make a paper funnel and decided to color it also, which turned into a fun addition to the project!)
  • Screw the bottle cap on and shake gently, if needed. (You may decide to add more toothpicks or grains; once you’re done, glue the cap in place.) After talking with your child about the importance of rain and water conservation, invite him or her to use the foam or Sharpie markers to decorate the bottle with words or images inspired by rain (like a rainbow). Leave some spots clear so you can still watch the grains fall.
  • Even after the holiday is over, your child can use this sensory rain stick to relax and calm down throughout the year; listening to the sounds and watching the grains fall through the toothpicks is quite soothing.
  • Share your project with us! Email your photos to editor@jewishboston.com and we’ll post them on our Facebook page.

Special thanks to my project testers, Ilan Sperber and Emmy Wilensky, pictured below!