Trash Rainbow Craft

trash collage rainbow craft for kids

I love rainbows. With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner rainbows have been popping up every time I sit down to brainstorm activities. This one was particularly fun because it used things I am cleaning out of my craft dump closet , incorporates my son’s incredible love of pretend play ( he’s a garbage sorter) and most every preschooler’s desire to sort.  You can do this in 2 parts sorting one day, making a rainbow the next or if I was still teaching I’d do this as a cooperative group project. My 4 year old did all the way up to putting the trash on then lost interest until I started putting some on and he ran back to the table saying he could do it better (is everything a competition in your house too? Sigh) so we did the gluing together.Make sure whatever materials you use that they are safe for the age/ ability of child you are doing this with.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a large piece of paper ( I used a grocery bag cut open ), glue, scissors, colored pencils/markers , 7 small containers, small squares of paper in the colors of the rainbow, a mixed mess of “garbage ” -paper/ buttons/foam/plastic toys/ribbon in the colors of the rainbow.
  2. Next fill a container up with all the “garbage”
  3. Start sorting by color.
  4. I was so pleased with how much he liked this part of the activity. It seemed to go on and on forever as he pretended to need a coffee break from his job at the garbage sorting factory. We are not short on imagination in this house.
  5. While he returned to work I made the rainbow with colored pencils.
  6. Time to add glue. We added two glue for a few colors at a time.
  7. Add the objects! We did this part together
  8. Add more glue.
  9. Add more objects.
  10. Let dry.

Books About Rainbows

All our book lists include affiliate links.

Duckie’s Rainbow by Frances Barry is a clever little book , you walk with her as she passes things like a yellow cornfield and blue pond until the pages above create a rainbow . I love the idea but reading it with my son ( who was 2 at the time) all he wanted to do was turn the pages as quickly as he could to make the rainbow. Not a big deal but this would make a better story time book then a bedtime one for that reason.

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert is a wonderful book to use for teaching about flowers and colors. The illustrations are bold and bright, perfect for little curious minds. I have always liked this book because you can sit down and dive into it reading each flowers name on every page , or browse it more casually with a younger child simply noting the colors.

This project too complicated for your toddler? Yesterday in my Link &Learn weekly linky this awesome rainbow project from Toddler Approved was linked. When I saw it after writing this post I knew it would be a perfect link to share as an option for younger kids so I added it in .

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  1. says

    Great idea and it creates less waste. My kids will love the unstructured sizes, shapes, and types of materials. Ds2 is a sorter. And both ds1 & ds2 love glueing. This will be a winner for sure. I’ll put Duckie’s Rainbow on hold at the library. We have Planting a Rainbow and a couple of other rainbow books to pull out for this, too.

  2. says

    i am amazed at his attention span. my little one will read for hours and use scissors til the cows come home. but its really hard for me to keep her attentive through an entire project like this. but i will continue to give it my all.
    this looks so so fun and i think she will enjoy it!!

    thanks for sharingL:))

  3. admin says

    You know I rarely write my posts at one time, 2 kids tend to interrupt 2, 3, 4 times. So I sometimes don’t add the little side comments I should. I edited to add that we did the gluing together, he did loose interest once but was easily directed back. It is a long project so breaking it in two is a great option!

    Great comment !

  4. says

    Thanks for linking my project to your post. I love your trash sorting idea. I think both projects are fun because they can take all day and would be especially fun with a whole class working together. We have not read Planting a Rainbow, so we’ll definitely be adding that to our library list this week.

  5. Lisa says

    I saw this post a while back. The other day on Facebook I saw an ad on the side for daily schedule charts with cute themes like ladybugs, a football, and a tree with an owl. I showed it to my 5 year old and asked if she wanted to make one. She suggested a rainbow…and that’s when I remembered this post. We made your rainbow and turned it into our Daily Schedule! It has been a huge success. Thanks for the idea!


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