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 .

Ice Fishing and Color Mixing !

To tell you the truth I didn’t plan this activity, I saw the fishing net , wanted to do something with it and didn’t have much for my son to catch so instead I made some ice.  To make it more fun we colored the ice, then to make it more educational we made them red and yellow to create orange ! It was a big hit and not as big a mess as I feared .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a bin or tub, a ice cube tray , food coloring , a fish net ( or soup ladle) and water. You will also need plain ice for the second part.
  2. Start by putting a few drops of food coloring in your ice tray – half one color, half the other. 
  3. Add water and freeze.
  4. Fill your tub with water – ours was too warm, the ice melted so quickly the color mixing was fast. When I do it again I will use cold water so it’s a slower mix.
  5. When ice firm, show it to your child and tell them you are going to put it in the water. Ask them to make a prediction about what will happen to the ice when it is in the water, what will happen to the water ?  Pop it in!
  6. Mix and catch with net.
  7. Pop in more plain ice to “fish” – my son had fun with the color mixing but the extension of the activity was the real fun.

Color Wheel Match!

by Kim

Allie did a color matching activity very similar to this one over a year ago, but I recently this variation at a daycare when I went to pick up my friend’s child. I had to make it as the perfect multi-level learning activity for my home.

All you will need are clothespins, paint, marker, scissors, and posterboard.

I traced an upside down large mixing bowl to get my big circle. Then I sectioned it into 8 pieces, but you can do as many as you like. I painted each section a different color.

As I painted the sections I made sure that I painted a clothespin for each color as well. You will see two of each in the photo because I made two sets (and then had to make a third).

I wrote the names of each color in the section. I also wrote the names of each color on the clothespins.

I gave the kids the circles with the clothespins already attached to the appropriate sections. I asked them to pull off all of the clothespins and put them in a pile. They loved pulling them off, maybe a little too much.

Then I told them to match the clothespins to the colors on the wheel. I demonstrated one match up to really show them, too. After all I was dealing with 2 two year olds. My daughter started right at it.

This activity is great for matching, learning colors, and motor skills. Our foster child has trouble doing the pincher hold, so this activity was more for him to work on motor skills and hand-eye coordination (not so much on color matching). Oh, and it is working. He is getting better every time we play this activity. Eve his therapists have noticed a big difference. We will get the color matching down, one day. ;-)

My daughter is learning to match and get more familiar with her colors. But it doesn’t hurt to build those motor skills, either.

This activity is requested constantly at my house. The littler ones have so much fun playing with it that I had to make one for my four year old son, too. I am hoping we will have our colors down as sight words. We should as much as we play this.

So there you have it, an activity that can be done by different ages and developmental stages (including special needs). Here is my daughter so proud of her completion. I know that you can’t tell from the picture, but she is very happy and proud.

Paint Chip Flowers

Now that school is out for most of you I have been brainstorming crafts that are a little more challenging but that can be adapted for younger kids as well. This was fun to make and by no means do you or your child have to make flowers, the sky is the limit with these fun vibrant colors. Also you can take this opportunity to talk about shades and hues ! Don’t miss the matching activity after the craft for younger kids either!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paint samples, scissors, paper and glue.
  2. Start by deciding what to create, or deciding to make an abstract creation.
  3. I started with some grass and glued it on my paper.
  4. Next I made flower stems and leaves, and added them.
  5. Time for some pretty colors, I chose to make pink and purple flowers.
  6. Cut out the petals and glued them on.
  7. Now was the more creative part – the “extras” I decided to make some clouds with a dusty blue.
  8. Then my favorite a butterfly!
  9. As it dries the glue will stick but the paint samples will pull away some. I personally LOVE this, I like how 3 dimensional it makes the craft. If you don’t like this just pop a piece of wax paper over it and lay a heavy book on top for a few hours.

Paint Color Match

This activity is not just a color match it’s also a wonderful fine motor challenge for toddlers and preschoolers.
Here are the instructions.

Finger painting with a twist

finger painting

Taking old standards and finding ways to make them fresh and new is something I have always relied on in classrooms and at home with my son. This activity was a big hit, simple and allowed him to make whatever he wanted. I kid you not when he started painting he said ” It’s just abstract.”  I have been lounging  in bed with my art books a lot and someone likes to cuddle and look at the pictures with me , glad to know he’s listening.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paints, a dish, paper and an exfoliating glove or mitt. finger painting
  2. Put the paint on the dish.
  3. Get your glove on , this took some time but try not to offer help unless they ask.  I step in too early and need to work on that or my son will be 12 and I will still be putting his shoes on.finger painting
  4. Dip into the paint. finger painting
  5. Go for it. finger painting My son decided that smacking the paper hard was his technique , there is no wrong way. The glove did get stuck to the paper a few times but no biggie. finger painting Also the glove made really cool sounds when he scrapped it against the paper. I loved all the different senses that came into play during this activity. finger painting

Books About Colors

Hello, Red Fox

Hello, Red Fox by Eric Carle is a fun interactive book about colors and the color wheel. Kids will love the “trick” on each page. The trick being that if you stare at a color for long enough then stare at a blank page the complimentary color will appear! This book is great, but not for a group, a class will disintegrate into “Let me!!” and “My turn!” quickly so this is really is best read one on one!

Little Blue and Little Yellow is a profound book with underlying commentary about race relations while the surface story is about little blobs of color who when squished together turn into one green blob! You’ll be surprised by how easily your preschooler will pick up on the connection between the two. In my PreK class I had more than a few kids make the connection all on their own.

Lemons Are Not Red by Laura Vaccaro Seeger is a clever book each page offers a sneak peek at what it next, which my son thought was genius and I have to agree. Soon my son was making his own predictions about what object would be revealed when we turned the page. The book offered so many chances for me to step in and ask my son questions about what we were reading without stalling the momentum of the book.