Rainbow Experiment (for 2-4 year olds)

To create a rainbow in a cup you will need: 5 cups, food colouring/ paint, thick tissue paper, water and scissors.

Home Learning

Setting up

This activity is great for children aged 2-4 years old. Try taking turns with your child in setting up, with you going first to demonstrate what to do. For example, you could place and fill the first cup and then let your child place the next. For younger children, you may need to do some parts of the setup (or maybe even all of it) yourself. If your child lacks confidence or steady hands try guiding their hands to build their confidence and/or fine motor skills.

To begin fill each cup with water, half way. Then add colour to each cup (using blue, green, red, blue and yellow). Once you have cut the thick tissue paper into strips place them into the cups, with one end of the tissue in both cups. Once all the cups have connecting tissue paper, it is time to sit back and watch!

Keep returning to the experiment to see what has changed! The children will begin to observe the tissue paper soaking up the coloured water!

Rainbow experiment

Learning outcomes

Every activity we do at Avendale is purposefully designed with developmentally appropriate learning outcomes in mind. The rainbow experiment can be used to assist children’s learning in these areas:

  • Science: float/sink, cause and effect, making predictions
  • Numeracy: counting the cups, measuring the water, problem solving
  • Fine motor: hand eye coordination, pouring water into cups
  • Social skills: taking turns and sharing
  • Language and communication: receptive language (questions), descriptive language and vocabulary development

Key words

While doing this experiment with your child you can focus on building specific vocabulary by deliberately using words they may not yet be familiar with. The words you choose to focus on will depend on your child’s current vocabulary. Example words to focus on may be:

  • pour
  • colours
  • look
  • change
  • count
  • absorb
  • measure
  • predict

Discuss with your child

Asking your child questions encourages them to think and engage in deeper learning. For instance, you could ask them:

  • What can you see ?
  • What colours can you see?
  • Is something changing?
  • Can you pour the water into the cups?
  • What do you think will happen to the water?