Science and art combine in this amazing and simple rainbow experiment. The kids will love to make, explore and paint rainbows.
The other day, my daughter picked up a CD and was fascinated by the rainbows that formed on it when she moved it around. We held it under the light and moved it all around and admired the bursts of color. The colors were so beautiful. We wanted more and had an idea to try to paint our rainbows.
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Making the rainbows
There are a number of ways to make your own rainbows, but I found the CD method to be the easiest. There is a simple tutorial and wonderful explanation on Exploratorium.
You may be wondering why a CD is floating in a bowl of water. We have dabbled in rainbow making with water and sunlight and water and mirrors, so my little girl filled a bowl with water and put the CD in it thinking that water was necessary because of our past experiments. The container actually worked well to hold our CD in place, so we left it, but water is not needed. I laid a piece of white paper next to the CD. There was very little sunlight this week, so we used a flashlight to cast our rainbows by flashing the light at the CD. We had to play with the positioning of the CD a little to get the rainbow onto the paper.
Painting the rainbows
The rainbows on the paper were so inviting. We just had to paint them. I hung a piece of poster board to the wall and laid out some paper on the floor to protect it from drips. Pieces of paper were taped to the poster board to use as our canvases and we propped up a flashlight to reflect the rainbows onto the paper. We used watered down acrylic paints to paint our rainbows.
My daughter and I looked at each rainbow before we painted them. I asked her which color did she see first when she looked at her rainbow. The color that she saw the most was red, but for me the yellow really stuck out. She painted all of the red areas first and then moved on to the next color. While she painted, she pointed out every little line of color that she saw.
We moved our CD around and found different rainbows and then painted those too. I have to say, that we went through a lot of paper exploring our rainbows. Don’t you just love when science and art come together.
This would have made a great color mixing experiment too. Hmmmm. We will have to try that next time.
My daughter loved this so much that she woke up the next morning and set up her own rainbows and colored them with crayons.
If you enjoyed this project, you might also enjoy our shadow explorations.
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