St. Patrick’s Day Art: Our First Rainbows

I’m not sure how in all our arts & crafts exploration that we have neglected to paint rainbows before today, but what fun it was!  

Lilah’s framed rainbow
Luke’s framed rainbow

I modeled the painting of a very basic rainbow since we hadn’t done it before, but aside from the modeling, L&L (ages 4 and 2.5) were free to paint their rainbows as they wanted.  

To make the project a little educational as well as artsy, we used only the 3 primary colors of paint and mixed the secondary colors ourselves.  We painted in rainbow order – ROY G BIV – except that instead of indigo and violet, we just did a single purple color.

Here are the materials we used for this project:

  • red washable tempera paint
  • yellow washable tempera paint
  • blue washable tempera paint
  • large pieces of paper (one per person)
  • 3 cotton balls per person
  • 3 plastic lids for holding/mixing paint (saved from food containers)


Here’s what we did:

1. Gave everyone a big sheet of paper.  I took one, too, so I could model the making of a rainbow.

2. We started with red.  I squirted some onto a recycled plastic lid, we dipped our cotton balls into the paint, and I showed them how to dab red across the page in a bit of an arc.  I helped Lilah (2.5yo) by guiding her hand a bit to get her rainbow started.  Luke did his completely on his own. 

3. After red, I asked L&L what color I needed to mix with red to make orange.  We added yellow onto the plastic lid, along with a little more red paint and I mixed it with my cotton ball.  We used our same cotton balls to paint an arc of orange under the red.  Then I threw the plastic lid in the sink and trashed our cotton balls.

 


4. On a clean plastic lid, I squirted yellow paint.  Using new cotton balls, we dabbed a line of yellow under the orange.

5.  After yellow, I asked L&L what color I needed to mix with yellow to make green.  We added blue onto the plastic lid, along with a little more yellow paint, and I mixed it with my cotton ball.  We used our same cotton balls to paint an arc of green under the yellow.  Then I threw the plastic lid in the sink and trashed our cotton balls.


6. On a clean plastic lid, I squirted blue paint.  Using new cotton balls, we dabbed a line of blue under the green.

7.  After blue, I asked L&L what color I needed to mix with blue to make purple.  We added red onto the plastic lid, along with a little more blue paint, and I mixed it with my cotton ball.  We used our same cotton balls to paint an arc of purple under the blue.  Then I threw the plastic lid in the sink and trashed our cotton balls.


8.  We sat back and admired our 3 unique, beautiful rainbows!

Mommy’s model is on top
Lilah’s rainbow is in the middle
Luke’s rainbow is on the bottom

     
9. Then I put them into our Lil Davinci frames which hang in our kitchen.  We found ours at Walmart awhile back for around ~$15/each.  Some of the photos are at crazy angles b/c it’s hard to photograph them without major glare!


Sorry…I got a little carried away with photographing the rainbows, but once I started, the pretty colors just drew me in!  

Hope these bring a little brightness to your day like they did to mine. 🙂

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Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

  • Altax says:

    Lovely rainbow painting and awesome kids.

    Saint Patrick’s Day

  • They are beautiful! It’s amazing what pretty things they can come up with at such a young age. I loved all of your pictures. They showed different shades and textures. Very nice.

  • Beth in NC says:

    Thank you for your wonderful ideas. I did this project with the 2 year olds in my class at daycare on Tuesday and they asked to repeat it yesterday and today. It was priceless to watch their reactions as they created secondary colors and tried to explain the experience to their parents.

  • Melanie says:

    Wow these are beautiful works of art! Love the use of materials- surely things anyone has at home to create!

  • These are beautiful! I’m looking forward to making these with my three-year olds. Thank you for the inspiration and sharing what you are doing.

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  • Meaghan says:

    This was awesome to do with my three year old. He loved watching the colours appear and the dabbing. For a super active little boy, that is huge accomplishment.

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