What is a Rainbow?
There is light all around us.  The part we are able to see is called visible light and is only a small part of the entire electromagnetic spectrum.  As sunlight (white light) passes through water droplets, it bends and splits into colors. We know these colors as the colors in the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.  The common mnemonic for this is ROYGBIV.   To see a rainbow in the sky, the sun needs to be shining behind you and, of course, it must be raining.

a i n b o w
Lessons...Teacher Reference

Crayola's Every Color in the Rainbow

NASA's What Makes a Rainbow

Teaching About Rainbows...Kindergarten

Topic- Colors Matching Game
Objective- The student will investigate and understand colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple).
Virginia State Standard- Science/Matter/K:4

Time Requirement- 30 minutes

1. In preparation, copy sets of matching color game cards (preferably on 8''x14'' cardstock, sold at your local office retailer).

Read interactive online story "Color the Rainbow."  The teacher may choose to complete this task, or pick a student to guide
    through the story using the mouse.

3. Following the online story, discuss with the students what objects are of a certain color.  For example, what can the students think of that are red?  Make color lists of these items where it is visible to the students.

4. After the lists are made, individually ask each student to identify the color on the game cards.  Once the color is correctly identified, the student can color the matching  game card
 the same color.

5. Once all the cards are correctly identified and colored, students can cut them apart.

6. Students can now use them to understand color identification, or as a matching game.

A Color Song Video

Colors Matching Game:

(Two Players per Game)
Lay a set of the color cards facedown. 

Players take turns turning two cards over at one time. 
If the cards match, the player keeps them.  If not, return the cards back to their spot.
The student to make the most matches at the end of the game is the winner.  This can be determined by counting the cards. 
(Game is over when all matches are made).

Optional Follow Up Activity: Interactive online game "What Color Is It?

Optional Follow Up Song: Sing online song "Colors of the Rainbow."

Roy G Biv Song

Teaching About Rainbows...First Grade

- Student Rainbows
Objective- Students will classify and arrange object according to attributes.
                   Students will conduct a simple demonstration to answer questions and draw conclusions.
Virginia State Standard-  Science/Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, Logic/1:1

Time Requirement- 30 minutes
1. Ask students what colors are in a rainbow? 

2. Pass out a picture of wavelengths to each student (copy and cut ahead of lesson).  Ask students to name the colors in the picture (the colors that are in a rainbow).  Discuss that a rainbow is made by waves of light.  (This is why the drawing is done in wavy lines.) 
3. Explain to the students that they will be doing an exciting demonstration on wavelengths and rainbows.

4. To prepare for the demonstration, arrange the class shortest to tallest.
5. Count off students into groups of seven.
6. Assign each child to wear a specific color to school on a designated day.  (The tallest student in the group should wear red, the second tallest orange, etc.)  Any students who are not in the groups of seven can be a sun or cloud.  Send a letter home to inform the parents of this exciting demonstration.

7. Students can color their designated letter (copied on 8 1/2" x 11" cardstock)  to represent his/her place in the rainbow (i.e. R for red). 

8. On day of the demonstration, review wavelength pictures.  Then, arrange students in order by the color of the rainbow.  (The students wearing red will be at  the beginning and, of course,
violet will be last.)  If a student does not wear his/her color on the designated day, provide him or her with a piece of construction paper to represent the color.

9. Using the demonstration, explain that red has the longest wavelength of white light and violet has the shortest.  Students will be
representing wavelength by height.  (This is why the tallest student is wearing red to represent the longest wavelength.)

Use the following discussion questions to aid in the activity:


What color has the longest wavelength of light?
Which student represents the shortest wavelength of light?
What color has the shortest wavelength of light?
Does your favorite color have a shorter or longer wavelength of light?

10. When the demonstration is over have the students draw a rainbow as a follow-up activity.

 Teaching About Rainbows...Second Grade &Third Grade

Topic- Rainbow Observation
Objective- Students will plan and conduct an investigation in which predictions and observations are made. Students will draw conclusions based on observations.
Virginia State Standard-  Science/Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, Logic/2:1
                                            Science/Scientific Investigation, Reasoning, Logic/3:1

Time Requirement- 40 minutes
1. Follow the recipe and make a bubble solution.  (Let it sit for approximately four days.) 

2. Begin the lesson by watching online video "What Makes a Rainbow?"

3. After the video, ask the students if they have ever seen a rainbow?  You can also follow up with the following questions:  When?  Where?  What colors did you see?  What did it look like?  Also, explain to the students that they are going to be observing a rainbow today, but not in the sky.

4. To begin investigation, pour solution into individual plastic cups or aluminum pans.

5. Go outside to a spot where there is plenty of natural light and sun.

6. Use a straw to blow into the solution, creating bubbles.  (You may want to practice blowing into the straw first, so that students don't
accidentally suck in the solution.)

7.  Once bubbles form on the top of the cup/pan, use a magnifying glass to observe the bubbles.  Also, students can observe without the magnifying glass.  *Students should be looking for colors within the bubble.*

8. Write down the observations on writing paper, or in a notebook. 

8. Discuss results. 

Use the following questions to aid in the discussion:

What did you see when the light hit the bubbles?
Did you see a rainbow?
What colors did you see within the bubble?
If you did not see any colors, why do you think that is?
Was there enough light for the observation?
Did the magnifying glass help you to better observe the bubbles?

*The best weather for this type of observation is a clear, sunny day.  However, if weather does not permit to complete activity outside, it can be done indoors, but may require additional lighting (i.e. flashlight).*

Page created April 15, 2010. Kelly Krupa. Updated Sun, Aug 26, 2012. AP.