Every Color in the Rainbow


You can make a rainbow with crayons, watercolors, prisms, and mirrors!


1. Discuss rainbows: What colors are in rainbows? Do all rainbows have the same colors? Are the colors always in the same order? What order do you think they are in? Draw rainbows-based on this discussion only-using Crayola® Crayons, Watercolors, and Brushes.

2. Look for natural rainbows, which occur whenever white light is split into the spectrum. Rainbows can form on CD-ROMs, soap bubbles, rain drops, fish tanks, and glass as light hits them. Although the sun's rays appear colorless, the rays contain all the colors of the rainbow mixed together. This mixture is known as white light. When white light strikes a white crayon, it appears white because the crayon absorbs no color and reflects all colors equally. A black crayon absorbs all colors equally and reflects none, so it looks black. Artists consider black a color, but scientists do not, because black is the absence of all color. Create black and white designs with crayons or watercolors and discuss the reflection and absorption of colors.

3. Create rainbows, indoors or outside, using a light source such as the sun, and a prism or mirror and water. Record each experiment with drawings of the objects and the spectrum created.

  • To use a prism, hold it between the light source and a plain surface such as a ceiling, wall, or white paper.
  • To use a mirror and water to create a rainbow, place a clear shallow glass or plastic pan in sunlight. Fill the container with water. Rest the mirror on the bottom of the pan, with its top edge leaning out of the water. Light will be bent (refracted) and separate into colors as it enters the water. As the light leaves the water, it will bend again and further separate the colors, making the spectrum more visible on a plain surface.

    4. Compare rainbows drawn in step 1 with those represented during the experiments in step 3. How are they similar? How are they different?

    5. Research the science of rainbows. Each of the colors in white light bends at a slightly different angle because it has a different wave length. Colors split into the same spectrum every time. Red has the longest wave length and violet the shortest. All other rainbow colors fall in between, in a definite order-ROY G BIV for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

    6. Draw colorful wavelengths to portray their relative sizes. Ultraviolet has an even shorter wavelength than violet. Humans cannot see it, but some birds and bees can.

    Safety Guidelines

    Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

    Crayola Washable Paints—Not for use as body/face paint.

    Mirrors, Picture Frames, and Plant Pots—Close adult supervision is required when children use craft materials that could shatter or break. Handheld mirrors, picture frames with glass, ceramic pots, and similar breakable items may be used only by children 8 years and older. For children 7 years and younger, use unbreakable materials such as wood or sturdy plastic picture frames, unbreakable mirrors, and plant pots that will not shatter into sharp edges.


    • Create a rainbow watercolor with crayon resist. Draw rainbows on paper, pressing firmly with crayon. Then brush the entire paper with watercolors diluted with water. The paint resists the crayon wax and results in a post-rainstorm effect.
    • Older children experiment more deeply with color. Light is essential in order to see color. When light shines on an object, some colors bounce off and others are absorbed. Eyes see only the reflected colors. Find out the relative sizes of color wave lengths. How do these wave lengths compare with sound waves?
    • Draw colorful pictures and describe which colors are absorbed or reflected off the artwork. For example, if a drawing looks all green, there really is no green in the picture. All the green is bounced off, so the drawing appears to be green.

    Related Lesson Plans

  • Lesson Plans

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    crayola supplies
    • Crayons
    • Washable Watercolors
    • Watercolor Brushes with Plastic Handle
    • Construction Paper
    household supplies
    • recycled newspaper
    • mirror
    • paper towels
    • clear pan
    • container(s) of water
    • prism



    • Grades 4 to 6


    • Language Arts
    • Science


    • 30 to 60 minutes
    • Multiple Sessions


    • Children draw their ideas about rainbows.

    • Students experiment with prisms and observe white light being split into the seven-color spectrum.

    • Children demonstrate their knowledge that rainbow colors fall in a definite order each time a rainbow is formed by drawing an accurate representation.


    Research Canada Standards
    Research UK Standards
    Research U.S. Standards