These are my rhythm sticks. I like to use rhythm instruments and have some nice ones that I bring occasionally to set up a little rhythm orchestra. However, too many instruments creates chaos. I work with a presidency who is very sensitive to chaos. These sticks are great because everyone can have a pair and participate at the same time, but they make the same sound so it is more orderly. I could add a few shakers or a couple of wood blocks to make things interesting, but the rhythm sticks are the standard right now.
Instruct the children to hold one stick firmly in one hand. Hold the other stick loosely between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand. Bounce this stick off of the other stick. I usually have the children play a steady beat with the sticks. It is fun to change the tempo of the song. Sometimes it's fun to divide into groups and play different rhythms, either taking turns between groups or tapping at the same time. Just demonstrate and have the children follow you. Invite another adult to lead the second or third group. Try the sticks with "Rain is Falling" (CS-241) to make the soft sounds of rain on the housetops.
You can get packaged dowels that are already precut to size somewhere in the wood aisle of the craft store. Each child will need two. Or, you can use unsharpened pencils.