Nature Schooling: Rainbows

Well, I didn’t get to deliver my activities on beetles in nursery this week as I tested positive for Covid so I have been isolating. I don’t seem to have suffered as badly as many accounts. My head has been hurting. I’ve been aching but not had a temperature, only coughing a little bit. So, it is worth getting tested even if you only show some symptoms.

But, while I haven’t got to teach the children in person we are still providing ideas for the parents home-learning. It’s uncertain exactly when I’ll be back at work but the next topi is rainbows. Of all the topics this has been the one I’ve had the least interest in. Alice, on the other hand, is very excited for rainbows. But to me, rainbows are just natural phenomenon. They serve no purpose, they do nothing, they just look pretty. So, I’ve invested more time into this one to look at exploring every possible avenue of rainbows as a topic to try and find a hook that engages me. It obviously lends itself to the teaching of colours but I wanted to find more opportunities.

Rainbows feature within folklore and the bible. In Norse mythology Bifrost, the burning rainbow bridge reaches from Earth to Asgard. Leprachauns gold can be found at the end of a rainbow. The rainbow bridge featured in poems in the 1980s and 90s as a route for deceased pets to go to a pet heaven. In Tibetan Buddhism the rainbow body is referred to as levels of realization. Since the 1970s it has been used as a symbol by the LGBTQ movement. Then in the last year it has been adopted by the NHS as a symbol of hope and the hard work they have done through the Covid pandemic. ‘The world made a rainbow‘ is one of the better stories I’ve found featuring rainbows and it supports the work of Save the Children.

Suggested books:

    • Planting a rainbow-Lois Ehlert
    • Elmer (and Elmer and the rainbow)
    • The rainbow fish
    • The world made a rainbow
    • The rainbow bear (ages 5-7)

Craft

Rainbows, as a topic, are obviously good for craft and artwork. Though more for home learning than in class. Trying to get 10+ children to make rainbows is not fun. It either ends up being too directed with a stressed out teacher or lots of colours mixed together or in the wrong place. While that has a great value for exploration, I like craft activities where the children can indepently achieve something that looks like what it is meant to be. But at home working one to one with Alice we have spent the last week making rainbows in just about every medium she can lay her hands on. She has painted them, used felt-tips, collaged, crayons, built from Lego, and even minature polymer clay rainbows.

We made rainbow paper chains and decorated the windows again to add a burst of cheer while we are isolating and to hopefully bring some cheer to people going past. It’s also ended up as a bit of local art display with a glass rainbow and knitted rainbow made my locals. The glass rainbow was dropped off with a tag for Alice. We still don’t know who kindly gave it to her. But I think it is the work of Jude Howe.

Sorting

With all the colours the rainbow topic lends itself well to sorting and pattern work. I have been painting wooden acorns to make a set of rainbow acorns. This seemed like it would be a nice activity to do with Alice to make a useful resource. However each has needed a few coats of paint and it’s been more of a faff.

But, she has a nice set for making patterns with. She is currently very keen on making symetrical patterns with them.

Having messed about with painting the acorns I decided to use felt tips to make a rainbow family to add to the objects to sort.

Science

I think one of my reasons for not liking the topic is that you can’t take the kids out and find a rainbow. Topics like the moon, birds and beetles I can pretty much guarantee we will find these things. However, rainbows I can’t make happen outside. So I’ve looked at the best of the home learning options for creating rainbows. Using a prism is pretty much the best way but a bit expensive for a one off.

CD’s and DVD’s have been the best I’ve found so far. By either letting the sun shine on the discs or using a torch you can create a rainbow in your own house. With a little bit of angling back and forth you can project a rainbow onto a wall or surface.

You can achieve different effects by placing the disc in water. You can then project the rainbow in the water.

We’ve also looked at felt-tip colours. Felt tip pen colours are made by mixing a number of colours to create the desired colour. You can separate the colours to see the different colours that have been mixed to make each pen. It’s a nice quick activity for discussing colour names and encouraging scientific enquiry.

You need:

    • Paper, coffee filters work well, kitchen roll, thick tissues and toilet roll can be used but are not quite as good.
    • Feltips
    • Bowl or cup of water

Place dots of pen or a line along the bottom of the paper.

Place the paper with the bottom in water. The water will soak up the paper spreading the pen ink as it rises.

The longer you leave the water to soak up, the more the colour separates. Discuss which colours you can see. Different colours will achieve different effects. Black works particularly well as this is often made by combining many colours.

Rainbow hunt

A good activity for inside or outside is a rainbow hunt. It’s a little tougher at this time of year outside but that fills a bit more time and we have no shortage of time currently. You can do it altogether looking for the colours or add an element of competition seeing who can find a colour first. I’ve been pretty lazy with this while recovering from Covid using Alice’s buns and sending her to find objects of the different colours.

Rainbow tree

A simple little threading activity I saw through Mud and Bloom to develop your child’s fine motor skills.

Collect sticks.

Wrap sticks with coloured string, hair bobbles, electrical tape.

Thread beads onto the branches being careful of the stick ends.

Display in a jar. I’ve used the jar we made for Diwali/the lightbringers as seemed appropriate for the activity.

I feel like I have fully explored the potential of this topic. Alice is still working on making rainbows in more formats. We are painting a wooden rainbow set and I may try and make a rainbow of butterflies ready for the next topic. But, I am feeling the rainbow fatigue. Hope you’ve enjoyed our rainbow explorations. And to finish a rainbow playlist. Rainbows are a lot more popular with song writers than beetles. No shortage of songs for this week.

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