Let's Explore Rainbows

Ages 2-5

Why I Created This Kit:

  Curator Chrissy K.

Curator Chrissy K.

Having two toddlers means there are plenty of “why” questions in our house! We explore and uncover many topics, but one of our personal favorites is rainbows. We love visiting this topic because of the mystical elements and the opportunity to talk about color, science, and even a little magic. After all, rainbows are an amazing product of nature and are the inspiration of many songs and stories across cultures. From a learning perspective we make important concepts, such as learning to identify colors, a great deal of fun and we love seeing how uncovering the topic of rainbows opens the gates for creative exploration.

Books for Discussing This Theme


Elmer and the Rainbow (Ages Under 2-4)

Author: David McKee

Elmer is sad when he discovers that the rainbow has lost its colors. He wants to help, but what will happen if he gives the rainbow his own colors? Will he lose them forever? (Amazon)


A Rainbow of My Own (Ages 2-5)

Author: Don Freeman

A small boy imagines what it would be like to have his own rainbow to play with. (Amazon)


The Rainbow Book (Ages 4-8)

Author: Kate Ohrt

Emotions are as bright and unique as rainbows. The Rainbow Book explores the relationship between colors and sentiments they might inspire. The Rainbow Book culminates with a bright, fold-out rainbow that lets all its colors show. (Amazon)

Apps for Exploring this Theme

Color Band (Ages Under 2-5)

Publisher: LND Games/ Format: iOS (Apple)

We all know children love to create and Color Band gives them the tools to let their imaginations run free. This is the perfect way to introduce the young ones to music creation and art. Painting will never be the same! Over 80 different interactive colors. Each one with a unique sound that represents an instrument or an effect. After you've finished your drawing, play it using the iPads built in camera, by touch, or by automatic playback. You can also have Color Band's cute mascot bunny "Lalabee" dance along to your creations. (iTunes)


Red in Bed (Ages: Under 2 - 4)

Publisher: Josh On/ Format: iOS (Apple) & Android

This simple yet substantive story gives toddlers a valuable primer on color and music. The story begins with seven little characters—they look like peas—snuggled in bed. Each one represents both a color in the rainbow and a note on the heptatonic scale. Tapping each colorful sphere produces a cheery note, with the exception of Red, who honks instead of dinging, as it’s feeling under the weather. “Don’t worry Red / we will color for you,” says Orange, as all of the other colors tumble out the door. Each subsequent screen finds the beadlike characters hard at work to color things that correspond to their particular hues. [Kirkus Reviews]

About Rainbows

Getting back to those “why” questions…we know your little one is going to expect a Wikipedia page worth of knowledge about rainbows as you read, sing, create, and explore. Here are some of the essentials thanks to HowStuffWorks, which should get you through the basics:

We see color because of reflected light. Light contains different wavelengths of energy and it is our brain that helps interpret or “see” these wavelengths as colors. When light hits and object we see the light that is reflected off that object.

Rainbows happen when sunlight and rain combine in a very specific way. The beams of sunlight separate into the colors we see in the rainbow as they enter a raindrop. Sunlight is actually made up of different colors that we don't usually see. When a beam of sunlight comes down to Earth, the light is white. But, if the light beam happens to hit raindrops on the way down at a certain angle, the different colors that make up the beam separate so that we can see them -- in the form of a rainbow.

The angle for each color of a rainbow is different, because the colors slow down at different speeds when they enter the raindrop. The light exits the raindrop in one color, depending on the angle it came in, so we see only one color coming from each raindrop. Light at different angles coming through many raindrops form the rainbow that we see, in stripes of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

Discussion Starters

A talking house is a learning house, so why not share some topics for discussion as you explore the topic of rainbows with your child…

  • What is your favorite color? Why did you choose this color?
  • Do colors create a mood or feeling?
  • Why are colors important?
  • If you could be any color what would it be?
  • What is a rainbow?
  • How do you think rainbows are made?

Additional Resources and Recommendations

The Rainbow Connection

Is The Rainbow Connection with Kermit the Frog not the first song you think of when you hear the word rainbow? Maybe it is Somewhere Over the Rainbow? Rainbows have been the focus of many songs and we’ve compiled some kid-friendly tunes to share as part of your rainbow adventures.

  1. The Rainbow Song (PBSKids)
  2. I Can Sing A Rainbow (KidsMusicShop)
  3. In the Rainbow (Pamela Piersyn)

A Colorful Family Experience

A trip to your local art museum is an exciting and memorable experience. Most museums provide guided tours or children’s programs to enhance your visit; however, here are a few ideas to enrich your trip:

  • Create a list of objects and images (e.g. cats, ballerinas, horses…) and keep a list of how many you find and what color they are in the artifact (painting, sculpture, etc.)
  • Bring a pad of paper and crayons to sketch some of your favorite or most memorable pieces

Need to bring the museum experience to your home? The National Gallery of Art provides various educational resources on its website, including the NGAKIDS Art Zone which includes interactive art you can make online.

Online Resources

You have covered the basics and are ready to dive deeper into a discussion about rainbows. Explore how rainbows work by visiting HowStuffWorks

Now it is time to totally geek out and look at the physics behind rainbows, and even double rainbows! Learn more about what a rainbow is, including a look at why light bends, and find answers to many more questions about rainbows from The National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Learning Activities

Exploring rainbows means getting involved with color and our emphasis is usually on color recognition, demonstrating mastery by applying the knowledge to other situations (e.g. naming the colors on a stop light), and creativity. Some of our favorite ideas include the following:

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About Chrissy K.

Chrissy is a mother of two energetic toddlers, a passionate educator, literacy specialist, school administrator, and consultant with experience in both public and private education.  She has worked with students preK-12, consulted on educational learning plans and student placement for families, and advised schools on literacy curriculum and planning across grade levels.  StrongTots is a passion for Chrissy and an effort to form a supportive parenting network grounded in research-based information.