Native American Rattles

A Native American Craft for Kids

Materials for Native American Rattles:

  • Soda cans, clean and dry
  • Large nail
  • Hammer
  • Small dowels appx. 11” long
  • Beans
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Masking Tape
  • Markers or crayons



Decorative items if desired:

  • Yarn or string
  • Beads
  • Feathers

Directions for Native American Rattles:

  • Remove the pop top from the cans
  • Using the hammer and large nail punch a hole in the bottom of the can
    and another one in the center of the top of the can.
  • Add beans
  • Tape over the original cans opening and tape around the dowel entrance
    and exit points.
  • Have students design the rattle cover with Native designs or pictures. It’s always easier if the paper is precut.
  • Glue designed paper to can and add decorative items to the top dowel, if desired.

Native American Design Reference Sites

Native Indian Gourd Rattles
Source: Kumeyaay Indians

Native American Designs
This site has a great collection of designs with very good background on each of the patterns.
Source: Buck-A-Gram

Native American Designs and Colors – Natural Dyes
Learn the sumbolism behind various colors in Native American art.
Source: Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs

What Does this Indian Symbol Mean?
“Over the years, both Native American designs (merely decorative forms) and symbols (a sign representing an idea, a quality or an association) have been subject to “interpretation” by non-Indian dealers and traders. Often, these interpretations are explained in terms of Anglo-European concepts that were nonexistent to the Native American. The result frequently bears little or no relationship to the true meaning of the symbols.”
Source: Wingspread Guides of New Mexico