This was a great topic to explore and one where I learned some things and thought about some things that I either never really knew or never understood properly about how things look the colors they look.
First up, The Magic School Bus really got to shine for this one. They have a whole episode about color, “The Magic School Bus Makes a Rainbow.” They also have a book from their chapter book series called The Magic School Bus: Color Day Relay. If you’re not familiar with the chapter books, they’re a series at about the same reading level as The Magic Tree House chapter books. The writing isn’t great, but like the TV show and the original books, the science concepts are sound and are explored creatively. The topics of the chapter books haven’t dovetailed well with our topics this year (like most science resources for this age, they’re mostly biology related) but this one did and the kids really loved it, even if I groaned a little at the writing.
Of course, the hands on activities begins with the kids using a prism to make little rainbows everywhere. Then they went outside with the hose (even though this spring has been way too cold for this sort of thing!) and made rainbows that way.
They came inside and colored rainbows and talked a bunch about the primary colors of light versus the primary colors of paint, because they’re different don’t you know. Then the kids did this experiment where you make a spinner by simply coloring the whole spectrum of colors. They also tried to mix the colors by trying different color combinations on their spinners. Coloring all that took awhile, but they were sort of collectively into it. The trick really does work, by the way, and some of their combinations yielded interesting results.
Finally, they tried this experiment, where you use coffee filters to make the colors separate. I’ve tried this one several times before and it never gives results anywhere near as nice as the ones shown on that link, but it did break down the colors a little. I can’t figure out if to make this experiment work you just need really amazing coffee filters, really amazing markers or what.
For us, this was a journal updating week and the kids especially enjoyed putting some serious rainbows in their journals. BalletBoy spent the next two weeks utterly obsessed with all things rainbow related.
Finally, I leave you with a little They Might Be Giants, for your listening pleasure: