Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Chalice Children: A Program about Our Unitarian Universalist Community for Preschoolers

Activity 5: Painting a Rainbow

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Watercolors or tempera paint in rainbow colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo (dark blue), and violet (purple)
  • Heavy stock white paper, two or three pieces for each child
  • A paintbrush for each color of tempera paint, or a can of water to rinse the watercolor brushes, and rags or paper towels
  • Small dishes, one for each color of tempera paint
  • Newspapers or other table covering
  • Pencils or crayons
  • Moistened paper towels
  • Optional: Paint smocks, one for each child
  • Optional: Picture of a rainbow, and tape
  • Optional: Rainbow music and equipment to play it
  • Optional: Digital camera or smartphone
  • Optional: Sheets of tissue paper in rainbow colors, and glue sticks

Preparation for Activity

  • Determine where you will set the wet pictures to dry, such as a drying rack, a clothesline with clothespins, or an extra table. Optional: This website shows you how to make a drying rack from pizza boxes.
  • Set up the activity area by covering the table with newspaper and setting out paints, brushes, dishes for the paint or water to rinse the brushes, paper towels or rags, and art paper.
  • Optional: Post a picture of a rainbow.
  • Optional: Choose rainbow music to play in the background, such as "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo‘ole, Celtic Woman, or Leona Lewis. You might also play this video clip from The Wizard of Oz. Make sure you have the equipment you need to play the music or video.

  • Optional: If painting is impractical, plan to have children create rainbows with colored tissue paper. Cut the tissue paper into one-inch squares. Invite the children to crumple the squares and glue them onto paper in a rainbow shape.

Description of Activity

Children create rainbows with paint (or, tissue paper).

Invite the children to the activity table. Tell the children they are going to paint their own rainbows. Optional: Give each child a smock.

Remind them of the shape of a rainbow. Show the picture of a rainbow if you have displayed one. Demonstrate how to form an arc by moving one arm from the shoulder; have them move their arms to make an arc.

Point out the rainbow colors on the activity table. Encourage them to experiment with making their own version of a rainbow, and let them know they can use two or three pieces of paper. Help each child write their name on their rainbow. Optional: Take a picture of the children with their rainbows.

Put the finished rainbow pictures in the drying area for the children to take home later.

Invite the children to help clean up. They can gather the newspaper to throw out, put away the art supplies, and wipe paint from the table with moistened paper towels. Have them wash their hands. Make sure that no one has wet paint on their clothes or shoes.

Including All Participants

If any child uses a wheelchair, make sure that there is a table at their height, with places for other children as well, so they can paint along with everyone. For some children, simply manipulating the paints will be satisfying enough; you need not insist on a rainbow shape, multiple colors, or a finished picture.