This lesson is designed to teach toddlers, ages 3 to 5, about the colors of the rainbow! It focuses on what order the colors of the rainbow go in, so it’s also a great exercise in memory. You could also easily incorporate some science elements into it.
If you’d like some tips on making art with this age group, check out my Discovering Art with Toddlers post.
- A long piece of brown or white paper for the background. You could use large drawing paper, craft paper (what you’ll see used in our pictures), or poster board. If you don’t have access to a piece of paper that’s long enough, you can tape or glue a bunch of smaller pieces together.
- Black paper, and one piece of paper for each color of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.
- scissors (optional)
- glue or tape
- white paper or coloring sheet for painting (optional)
- watercolors, paints, markers, or crayons (optional)
- a book about rainbows or printouts about the colors of the rainbow: Try googling “Roy G Biv for kids”. You can also find lots of helpful You Tube videos.
For those who don’t remember, the colors of the rainbow make up the name ‘Roy G. Biv’: Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue Indigo, Violet
- Explain that you’ll be exploring rainbows today! Show them a picture of some rainbows or read a book about them. Ask if they’ve ever noticed how all the colors of the rainbow are always in the same order. Then you can introduce your friend “Roy G Biv” with pictures or some videos. Go over the order of the colors several times out loud to help them remember. Ask them what each letter stands for, going in order: “What does ‘R’ stand for? What about ‘O’?…..” and so on.
- Paint your own rainbow! This is a great way to give them some painting time while they practice remembering the colors of the rainbow. Their pictures will also have time to dry while they make their trains. But you could easily skip this step, or use dry media like crayons and markers instead. You could even find a coloring sheet online for them to color or paint. We used a printed rainbow coloring sheet and painted each stripe the appropriate color. Remember to ask them what color comes next instead of just telling them right away!
3. Set their paintings aside to dry and move onto making trains! We spread our long background papers out on the floor and taped them down into place.
4. There are a ton of variations you can do with this project. Because we had a limited amount of time, I cut all of the train shapes, colored squares, and wheels out ahead of time. I handed everything out one at a time. I asked them to first glue their train shape down. Then I asked what color was first in the rainbow and handed them the red. We went through each color this way. Then they got all of their wheels to glue down. For each part of the train to have two wheels, you need 14 per child. But you could easily do this with fewer wheels, which I recommend if they cut their own wheels out. Doing the project this way gives them lots of practice with gluing things in the right spot.
Alternate option: If you want to give them some practice cutting, or even making stencils, you could have them cut their own shapes out. You can cut a train engine shape out of cardboard and have them trace around it onto black paper and then cut it out. Or just cut a printed engine out. Then they can practice cutting their shapes by cutting a square out of each color they need. And then they get some practice cutting circles for their wheels.
Once the trains are finished they are so cute! And they learn so many great skills while making them. For some extra fun you can invite your toddlers to decorate the background by adding things like train tracks and grass and a blue sky with clouds. Be sure to hang them on display and review the colors of the rainbow every so often!
Have fun exploring art with your kids!