The first thing I do when I notice raindrops on a sunny day is look to the sky for a rainbow. If the kids and I spot one we usually have what feels like only mere seconds to observe it before it disappears. We never get the chance to fully admire them and we definitely never get close enough to touch one (wink, wink). To help answer my kid’s questions, today’s activity is all about finding easy ways to explore rainbows, lights, and color with the kids in a hands on Science Activity. If we are lucky, maybe a little leprechaun will show up with a pot of gold :).
Light is fun for kids to explore because it is something we can see, but we can’t touch breaking a lot of norms they are used to experiencing.
Exploring Rainbows, Lights, and Color with Kids
What Makes a Rainbow?-affiliate link (This book is so fun with ribbons that make a rainbow)
Diffraction Rainbow Glasses-affiliate link (My kids play with these all the time. They make all light look like a rainbow).
Translucent Colored Shapes-affiliate link (perfect for light table play too)
In short (and plenty of information for my little kids) rainbows appear in the sky because water refracts (bends) sunlight resulting in a spectrum of colorful light. For this activity we used prisms to bend light instead of water, but an old CD can make rainbows too. Since CD’s don’t look anything like a raindrop we used prisms to help make the connection between the prism and a raindrop more clear.
This activity was really self-guided. I showed the kids how to move the prisms in the sunlight and how to shine the flashlight on them and they set off to explore. First thing they did was try to catch the rainbows that were all over the walls thanks to our round prism (you can find them on online but I didn’t feel confident recommending a certain one because we already had ours). They noticed that they could see the rainbow on their hand but they couldn’t feel it. Next they took our translucent colored squares and set them on the prism which changed the color of the light. One of their favorite discoveries was using the magnify glass to refract the light inward making a brighter concentrated area of light. They were hoping to burn something with it but the light through the window was not hot enough (thank goodness crazy kids!–so if you are outside do make sure children are safe and not burning things or themselves.)
They also walked around the house with their diffraction rainbow glasses that look funny on, but are so cool you don’t want to take them off because it fills the room with rainbows that only the glasses wearer can see.
We found our triangle prism worked best in the dark with a flashlight angled at the side which only made one rainbow unlike the round prism.
More Science Activities by the Creative Preschool Team:
Design a Glider (Free Printable Included!) by Pink Stripey Socks
Evaporation Art with Puddles by Hand Made Kids Art