Rainbow Inspiration

One evening, we spotted an amazing (double!) rainbow outside our window. My kids were fascinated with it, and had many questions about color and light.

Our view was quite spectacular!

Our view was quite spectacular!

Rather than attempt to answer all of their wonderings, that night I set up a simple exploration area on the window sill. When they woke up in the morning, they began exploring with the prism, the light from the window, primary colored paddles, and an old CD.  

I had added paper and colored pencils, and their favorite thick crayons, but my daughter noted this wasn't ideal to capture the rainbows we were seeing and creating. "What might work better?" I asked her.  "Watercolor paint!" she replied. So we tried that, using one of my favorite techniques of wetting the paper first so the colors bleed together. 

The green tray has a half-inch of water. My son is coating the paper in water and then transferring to the yellow tray to paint. 

The green tray has a half-inch of water. My son is coating the paper in water and then transferring to the yellow tray to paint. 

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That did indeed work better to mix and blend the colors of the rainbow, we all agreed. We continued to examine and ask questions about reflecting light, the color spectrum, and water. 

Recently, I read a quote from the The Wonder of Learning, currently in New York City. (I was so fortunate to be there for NAREA's Winter Conference). As the curators of the exhibit explained, when children encounter light (and natural phenomena in general), they are full of wonder and curiosity. As parents and educators, we can use their interest, and follow their lead, by providing the environment for them to experiment: 

Environments can multiply these marvelings, singling out certain phenomena and ‘amplifying’ them, making them more spectacular.
— The Wonder of Learning Exhibit

After plenty of time to explore and investigate, we checked out books from the library on rainbows, and watched this video. Are your children interested in rainbows? Have you seen any amazing rainbows in the city?


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