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In looking for a rainbow activity to do with my kids, I saw a cute 3D rainbow. I decided to take this idea and turn it into a way for my kids to practice some basic measurement skills. (I also made a printable that I’m sharing here today.)
The idea to make a printable was inspired partly by the fact that I did not have construction paper in all the colors of the rainbow. Plus, I wanted to create an activity with multiple levels of difficulty so that both of my kids could practice basic measurement skills at their level.
This would be a great activity to do in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, and you will find this and other ideas on my St. Patrick’s Day activities for kids page. But this activity also stands on its own as a fun math activity or as a math activity that also works on colors.
My kids are at different levels with their math ability. My oldest, QBoy, is great with counting and recognizes his numbers pretty well. XGirl, on the other hand, can count to 10 just fine but only recognizes a few numbers. While I wanted both of them to work on numbers and measuring, I differentiated the activity by providing them with different tools to complete it.
For XGirl, I provided her with rainbow colored strips of paper that each had 10 1 inch boxes labeled with numbers 1-10. The idea was to make the red strip 10″, the orange strip 9″, the yellow strip 8″ and so on. I told her how long to make each strip, and she did the work of counting how many boxes she needed.
(Note: One tool I use a TON – and that came in handy for cutting the paper strips for this activity – is our portable paper trimmer. This tool saves me so much time cutting straight lines when I use printables I’ve created or downloaded from others and I highly recommend one for all the time you will save!)
Once she determined the right length, she cut her strips to size.
For QBoy, I wanted this activity to serve as an introduction to using rulers. My mom (who was helping out on this day) showed him how to line up the ruler with the end of the paper strip.
And then she showed him how to make a mark where he would need to cut the strip.
As the kids worked, they put their paper strips in order from largest to smallest.
Once the strips were all cut, they used tape to secure the purple strip – which was cut to the shortest length – to a piece of cardstock. We taped the first side down and then created an arch before taping the second side down.
As you can see, we offset each color so it was slightly back from the previous color. This made it easier to see all the beautiful colors in the rainbow.
And voila! The finished product! The kids were so proud of their rainbows. And I was thrilled with the math skills they got to practice. 🙂
Would you like to try this activity with your kids? I’ve created a free printable version you can download that includes three different levels of difficulty. (My kids only used the easiest and most difficult levels. There is an additional middle level for kids who may not be ready to use the ruler but who do not need the support of having the numbers written on the strips.)
Here is a sneak peak at all three versions of the activity included in the download:
Want a copy of my Build a 3D Rainbow activity?
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Looking for more hands-on activities that incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM)? Then you’ll love STEAM Kids! This book features 52 hands-on activities are helpfully identified by category (science / technology / engineering / art / math) so you know exactly what skills your kids are developing.
More resources for teaching math
More math activities from Gift of Curiosity:
- Adding with chain links
- Matching and ordering by size
- Venn diagram sorting practice
- Teaching combinations of 10
- Estimating an apple’s circumference
- Introduction to probability
- Math practice with numbered dice
- Put the numbers on the clothesline
- Road numbers