Life Lab

Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

Rainbow Chips

Rainbow Chips

Explore your yard or nearby outdoor space for all the colors of the rainbow. Use paint samples or other color chips as a guide. 15+ minutes, Ages 2+

The outdoors are full of vibrant colors but we don’t always take the time to look closely at just how colorful a single leaf or petal or rock can be.  Rainbow chips help us to explore the depth of color all around us. It’s an activity that can take 5 minutes or 20 depending on how much time you and your kids take in looking for different colors. The only material needed for this activity are cut-up pieces of single colored paint samples, or other swatches of color. 

A fun way to start out this activity with younger kids is by telling a story of how you were in the garden the other day and a big rainbow arched over the garden and then there was a big clap of thunder that made the rainbow shatter into a million pieces all over the garden. Tell the kids you went and picked up some of the pieces and then ask if they want to see some of the pieces. After a pause of suspense pull out your small stack of rainbow chips from your pocket and ask the kids to find the matching colors in the garden.

I like to keep the cut-up color squares in a bag so that I can draw them out at random. Once I have a color chosen at random, I challenge myself to find that EXACT color.  It is harder than it sounds. If you pull a shade of green from the bag, it’s easy to find green anywhere outside, but it is much more of a challenge to go up to the leaves on plants in your yard or on your street with a color chip to find the exact shade. Once you have found as close a match as possible, swap out your color chip with a new chip and try again with that new color.  Repeat as many times as you like.

If it makes sense within your boundaries, you could try a version of this game where everyone brings the natural object that matches their color chip back to a common spot to compare all the objects. It’s fun to try this activity in different areas; try it in your garden, a friend’s garden, in a park, along your street, or any outdoor area. Once you’ve made your chips you can do it anywhere!   For making the rainbow chips: the paint sample cards at hardware stores are free and easy to cut up into small squares. Or cut up colorful magazine pages if you don’t have paint swatches easily accessible. Your kids could even color their own squares of color using markers or colored pencils.

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