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The Walking Rainbow

Written by Crystal Jackson
June 23, 2021

Before the night started:


Literacy night was a night of fun. I was a bit skeptical of how it was going to go at first. Many students signed up but they didn’t pick up their materials that were set out for them. Afterall, it was a small and quaint gathering with a few of my students. I even had one of my students from the previous year join us. 

I know the literacy night was supposed to be an hour. The project I did with the students was the walking rainbow. It was an easy project, but the night before I did the project just so I could be ready. Before that night I had only seen it done on YouTube. Something told me to test the experiment before I fail when im live with the students. The experiment took over an hour for the colors to change. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to see their final result and I would have to leave it up to them to send me pictures of their work. I was going back and forth on how to proceed. I wanted to do the experiment last so that we could share their knowledge on rainbows, predict what would happen with the experiment, and read a book. 

The morning of I got the bright idea to add more water in the cups to cut down the traveling time along the paper towels. If the water is closer, then it wouldn’t have far to go. My bright idea worked! So, I was able to relax. All I had to do was wait for the students to join in on zoom later that day. I have to say that I actually had a very good time! So did the children. 


During literacy night


I gave the students some time to log on, after about a 5 minutes grace period we got right to it.  My opening line to the students was “raise your hand if you have ever seen a rainbow.” Of course, all the hands went up. I proceeded to ask them to tell me anything they can about a rainbow. No matter what it was. I’d have to say that all of them did come with some background knowledge of rainbows. Many of the responses were telling me how beautiful it was and their favorite color of the rainbow. I had very few responses about the rainbow coming when it rains. As far as science goes, that was the only thing they could tell me. We watched a short video on YouTube that described what a rainbow is and how it is formed. 

I asked them to look at the materials that were prepared for them. We only had a pack of 4 of food coloring; red, green, blue, and yellow. I asked them if we had all of the colors we needed to complete the rainbow, of course the answer was no. I told them to take the green and set it aside. We won’t be needing that color. I wanted them to tell me what they thought this experiment would be and how we would create the rainbow using only three colors. One student blurted out, “we can mix them!!” Once the cat was out of the bag the students couldn’t wait to tell me which two colors made a new color. This sparked some excitement in them.



Experiment steps:


  1.     Fold napkins
  2.     Fill every other cup with water
  3.     Add red food coloring to both cups at the end
  4.     Add yellow to one of the other cups with water
  5.     Add blue to the last cup with water
  6.     Place all five napkins in the cups so they are touching
  7.     Wait!!


The waiting and watching was my favorite part because all the students’ experiments were going at different paces. So, to hear the pleasure in their voices saying, “mine is turning orange, I’m getting some green!” It was such a delight. I also had students who had no action at all. I just reassured them that it would happen, and they just had to be patient. Soon we had full rainbows! The students were all elated. 

At the end of the experiment each child shared something they learned about our experiment or rainbows. That was their exit ticket. I had so much fun creating these memories with my students. With the extra time we had left I introduced them to some other experiments they could do with the help of their parents with the food coloring and some other household items. Some of them wanted to stay on zoom a little bit longer but it was time for us to go. We all had a great time.