Hands-On Rainbow Activities

Who doesn’t marvel at the sight of a rainbow? God’s promise to us evident in a beautiful banner of color in the sky. Rainbows are beautiful, but the can be educational as well. You can use rainbows to learn about light, wavelengths, color, and nature.

Light And Color

Light is made up of electromagnetic waves that are visible to the eye. These waves of light vary in their wavelengths creating color. When waves of light hit an object, certain wavelengths are absorbed and others are reflected. We see those reflected wavelengths of light as color. For example, if you see green leaves on a tree, the color being reflected by the leaves is green.

When we see the color black, that object is absorbing almost all the wavelengths of light. (This is why black shirts and cars get so hot in the summertime absorbing all those hot rays of sunlight.) White objects are actually a combination of all colors. They reflect all the wavelengths of light.

Light And Rainbows

When sunlight passes through raindrops in the sky, the drops act like tiny prisms that bend, or refract, the sunlight. This bending causes the light to separate into its separate wavelengths of color which reflect back to our eyes causing us to see the rainbow.

Rainbows are seen in the sky when sun shines through raindrops and the viewer is between the sun and those raindrops. The sun needs to be low in the sky (morning or early evening) for this to happen.

Hands-On Rainbow Activities -Homeschooling Today Magazine

Make A Rainbow

Rainbows are easy and fun to create. You can use water and light or get a little more creative.

Garden Hose Rainbow –  On a sunny day, spray water from a garden hose into the air. Make sure you are between the water and the sun. A rainbow should appear in the spray of water just like this.

Make Your Own Prism – Fill a glass ¾ full of water. Place the glass on a white piece of paper. Set the glass where sunlight or a flashlight can shine through it. The water in the glass will act like a prism and bend the light into a rainbow on the white paper. The angle of light can be adjusted until you see the rainbow.

Use A Prism – Get a prism and a piece of white paper. Allow sunlight or light from a flashlight shine through the prism. Position the paper so that the light from the prism shines on the paper. This light should be in the form of a rainbow!

Create A Spectroscope – Use this homemade spectroscope to split light into different wavelengths to make a rainbow.

Hands-On Rainbow Activities - Homeschooling Today Magazine

Paint A Rainbow – Grab some paper and paints, chalk pastels, markers, or crayons and let your child be the artist.

Pipe Cleaners And Beads Rainbows– This is a fun tactile project to learn about the colors of the rainbow.

Rainbow Density Jar – Learn about the density of liquids along with the colors of the rainbow.

Lego Rainbows Create a rainbow out of Legos.

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About the author  ⁄ Marci Goodwin

Marci Goodwin can be found blogging at TheHomeschoolScientist.com, where her goal is to take the fear out of and put the fun into homeschool science. Check out her science column in Homeschooling Today Magazine.

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