Inspired by our new super bright and summery play dough shades, we've put together 10 simple rainbow themed play ideas for children of all ages to enjoy.
Roll a rainbow
Well of course I was going to kick things off with a play dough activity! I am nothing if not predictable! There are a various versions of this game and you can adapt it to your child's age. All you need is paper, a pen and of course some of our gorgeous scented play dough.
1. Draw or print out an outline of a simple rainbow and let your child have free creative reign when selecting and adding the colours to the picture.
2. Give your child a coloured drawing to use and encourage them to identify and match the colours of play dough, rolling out sausages of dough or sticking smaller pieces on top to create a play dough rainbow.
3. Add a dice and make this a game! Assign a colour to each number, take turns to roll the dice and see who is first to complete their rainbow.
Top tip, if you want to reuse your rainbow drawing for future play dough play, you can protect it by either adding a layer of sticky backed plastic or popping it inside a clear plastic wallet. Give it a wipe after play and then store it away for another day.
We first tried this activity 3 years ago but we still enjoy it as much now as we did then. This is a lovely little experiment uses a pack of Skittles and warm water to show how the sugar coating melts and the different colours spread across the water towards the centre. It's also great for fine motor practice (picking up all those little sweeties) and for pattern practice too (I set out the first few and then encourage the kids to follow my pattern of colours). In all honesty, it is mostly a lesson in restraint and patience as you try not to eat all the sweets before you've completed the experiment!!
All you need to do is place your Skittles around the edge of a plate or shallow dish, carefully add just enough warm water to the centre so that it reaches the edge of the sweets and then sit back and watch the magic unfold.
Rainbow sticky wall
When my children were younger they loved a "sticky wall" activity. It's (relatively!) mess free and a nice activity that you can leave out for them to come back to throughout the day.
For this activity you will need some sticky backed plastic, masking or washi tape (something that won't destroy your walls) and lots of pieces of colourful paper (you can cut out images from magazines, use tissue paper or other light craft materials such as feathers, foam and felt).
Using a marker pen, draw out an outline of a rainbow onto your sticky backed plastic. Peel off the backing paper and stick it to your wall using the tape sticky side up (this is the tricky part!). Invite your child to stick the different coloured pieces of paper onto the different stripes of the rainbow. We added big fluffy cotton wool clouds at the end too!
Fizzy rainbow experiment
If you haven't tried some version of a bicarbonate of soda and vinegar experiment with your children then I really urge you to take the plunge! Whether it's making a volcano, potion making or this easy rainbow activity, it is always so much fun and the kids LOVE it! It can get a little messy so I always pop a cheap plastic tray underneath to catch any spills.
For this super simple experiment we added a drop of food colouring to the bottom of each of the cups in our muffin baking tin and then covered the colouring with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (you can buy this in the baking section at all supermarkets). When your child adds vinegar on top, it will react with the bicarbonate and foam up making lots of little carbon dioxide bubbles and turn the colour of the dye that you placed underneath. You can use anything you like to add the vinegar to the muffin tray (a teaspoon, sippy cup or an old, clean ketchup bottle) but we love these pipettes to add an extra dimension of fun and they're so great for strengthening little fingers too.
Colour scavenger hunt
Whether you choose to do this outside in nature or at home on a rainy day, this is a lovely activity that children of most ages will be able to do independently (yay!). You could challenge your child to find 10 red things from around the house, or an item in each colour of the rainbow or give children a paper bag to fill with colourful treasures on a walk in the local park. I think you'll be surprised at how such a simple idea can really motivate them and keep them entertained (while you take a shower or have a hot cup of tea!).
Colour recognition and matching is a great skill to teach children. Use colourful bowls or add a splash of colour to the bottom of a tub, muffin tin or egg box and ask your child to sort different coloured items into their correct container. You can use anything or this activity, legos, buttons, sweets or any type of craft material. We bought this big bag of pom poms when the children were little for activities like this and they're still going strong now, years later!
(Relatively!) mess free painting
Do you want to try experimenting with paints and colours with your little one but are just too afraid of the mess? Well I don't blame you! I really have to be in the right mind set before embarking on painting or any type of messy play activities with the kids so it's always nice to have some activities up my sleeve that are less messy but still lots of fun.
And this is where the humble zip lock bag becomes your best friend! As soon as your baby is old enough to sit comfortably on their own, a whole new world of play is opened up to you. For this activity I added a dollop of paint to the bottom of a zip lock bag and then added a squirt of shaving foam on top. Squeeze out any excess air and tape the bag down flat on to the table or highchair tray and the them tap, pat and squeeze away while moving the paint around in the foam.
For an older child you could try adding two different primary colours so that they can experiment with colour mixing, all in a mess free way!
Rainbow ice cubes
This activity is perfect on a hot day! Fill your ice cube tray with colourful water by first adding a drop or two of food colouring or paint to the water. Once frozen solid, pop them out and let your child play with them. You could add your ice to the bath or sink, take them outside to a water table or simply put them in to a shallow dish (something white will show off the different colours the best!) and watch the colours slowly flow, mix and change as they melt.
Grow a rainbow
A simple grow a rainbow experiment is so easy to do but it will amaze kids of all ages. All you need is kitchen roll, washable felt tip pens and two glasses of water.
1. Cut your paper towel into a rectangle.
2. Using your felt tip pens, draw the colours of the rainbow in square blocks down one of the short sides.
3. Go over the colours a few times to make sure there in enough dye to travel all the way up the paper towel!
4. Repeat this on the other short side of the paper, making sure that the colours match up.
5. Fill up the two glasses of water so that they are about 3/4 full.
6. Place one end of the paper towel in each glass making sure that you only cover the coloured sections half way.
7. Sit back and watch how to colours travel up the paper towel to create your rainbow.
Eat a rainbow
Well, after all of that crafting you're probably hungry and ready for a snack! Rainbow fruit kebabs are fun, easy to make, healthy and they look so great - we always make and serve these at our kids' birthday parties.
You just need some wooden kebab skewers and a variety of fruit cut to size. We like using the following but of course there are so many other options.
Red - strawberries
Orange - cantaloupe melon
Yellow - pineapple
Green - grapes
Blue - blueberries
Purple - blackberries
If you're looking for other rainbow themed play resources make sure you check out our blog post here.