Rainbow Sponge Painting on the Easel


We’ve done plenty of rainbow painting activities, but painting with a sponge on the easel was new. Painting rainbows with sponges has been featured on many blogs, such as Teach Preschool and Hands On As We Grow. However, I was looking for something we could do on our easel. It occurred to me that sponge painting rainbows on a vertical surface could be pretty cool! And it’s also a great lesson in color mixing, as you will see in this post.

rainbow art
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What you will need:



preschool rainbow art

Setting up this rainbow activity:

Pour tempera paint into plastic squeeze bottles. (I hope you love these bottles as much as we do. We use them for lots of different art activities, even with glue!)

preschool rainbow art
Squeeze a line of each color on the sponge in rainbow order.
preschool rainbow art

 Invite the children to paint a rainbow!

 preschool rainbow art
 preschool rainbow art
I could have told them to stop once they had a nice vivid rainbow on their papers. But, that’s not my style. I let them keep on going, because the fun for them is to move that paint around!
 preschool rainbow art

This also worked with our youngest class, our 2 year olds.

preschool rainbow art
They were just as excited to watch the colors smear on the paper as they moved the sponge back and forth.
preschool rainbow art
 preschool rainbow art
Some made sure to cover the entire sheet of paper.
 preschool rainbow art

 rainbow painting

More ideas for you to try:



art activities for toddlers   preschool math   teaching kids how to count from Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds



Color activities for kids:





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About Sheryl Cooper

Sheryl Cooper is the founder of Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds, a website full of activities for toddlers and preschoolers. She has been teaching this age group for over 15 years and loves to share her passion with teachers, parents, grandparents, and anyone with young children in their lives.


  1. TammySF. says:

    A “mess” can be cleaned up, but the experiences a child has can never be replaced:) Awesome!!!

  2. stephanie leah says:

    YES! As I read thru this and saw the pictures, I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and cheer “yes! this is how this activity should be done!!!” i love your open-ended style, sheryl.

  3. That looks like fun even for adults 😀 I might try that some time.

  4. TammySF. says:

    I’ve just given you the Top 10 award over at my blog! Go check out my post for tonight!!

  5. Michelle says:

    Did you put the paint on the sponge for the 2’s or did you let them do it themselves??
    Great idea… I want to try 😉

    • Sheryl @ Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds says:

      At first I did it. Then, when I saw that some wanted to do it themselves, I placed the bottles at the edge of the counter and let them go for it.

      (I apologize for not seeing this comment earlier!)

  6. This is a great idea! I have to try it with my 2 and 3 years old’s. You are right though, they will eventually mix the colors together. Oh but the fun they have!

    This is my first time visiting your site. I run an in-home child care service. My website is http://www.aunttamishouse.blogspot.com

  7. Carla at Preschool Powol Packets says:

    Fabulous!! I love how you let them keep going–it’s so tempting sometime to steal the art work when it first looks done–but it still looks so cool when they decide it’s really done!

  8. I found your blog on pinterest – love it! Perfect for my “baby” girl (3). Also liking that easel – what brand is it?

    • Sheryl @ Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds says:

      Little Tykes. Not as bulky as some of the others we’ve had, and folds flat easily.

  9. Anonymous says:

    excellent site, some brilliant ideas to use.

  10. This is such a great idea! My three-year-old loves to paint and we’ve used everything from brushes to our fingers to chopped vegetables, but it never occurred to me to use sponges. I love the different textures the kids created and the way they blended the colors. I can’t wait to try this with my daughter!

  11. notafreakingcricketmatch says:

    Oh my gosh. I just discovered your blog tonight, but I’m obsessed. You are such an inspiring teacher!!!!

    This quote… “Yes, if my desire was for it to look just like a rainbow, I would’ve pulled the paper off the easel right then. But I didn’t. I knew they wanted to experience more. And they did.”

    This is exactly what I needed to hear. It sometimes really irritates me when a child makes something like this… like a rainbow, but then they just CAN NOT STOP THEMSELVES from putting more and more and more paint on. But you said it right. You hit the nail on the head. They just want to EXPERIENCE more.

    And I need to accept that this okay. This is GOOD. THIS is the GOAL. 😀

    • Sheryl @ Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds says:

      It’s very hard for me to watch a teacher/adult stop a child from adding his own touches on work. I know we tend to have expectations on what it should look like, but we are not them. This is THEIR work, THEIR experience. I now love to sit back and watch as they take it to their level. I love the look in their eyes as they discover. To me, that is much more important than the outcome. This is why I try not to do cookie cutter art work, except perhaps special seasonal projects.

  12. Beffy Bef says:

    Occasionally for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. I may want to have a rainbow (or whatever) and I do take the paper right then, but I ALWAYS then let them continue to do more papers however they want. I always explain that this one is for me but you can do anything you want on the next one. Love the paint on the sponge idea!

    • Sheryl Cooper says:

      Yes, I’ve done that, too! If it’s something for a special event, I quickly hand them another piece of paper to “finish”. 🙂

  13. Would also be a great way to teach that red and blue make purple and so on without them even realizing. It would be priceless to watch the light dawn! You’ve certainly hit on a winner!!

  14. vassilia vigneron says:

    excellent idea!

  15. We try the same with his hands. Each fingers get a different colour and woala. He made his own rainbow handprint 🙂 after he tested all kind of movement with his painted hand and he love that he get different colours and shapes.

  16. What kind of paper did you use?

    • Sheryl Cooper says:

      I believe we used a slick paper, such as finger painting paper. Being slick allows the sponge to move easier.