Grow A Rainbow First Grade Science Experiment

This first grade science lesson is not only a great STEM activity that they can do independently, it’s also sure to have your child excited about doing it each step of the way.

Similar to the “Walking Rainbow Experiment”, this activity teaches how water moves molecules utilizing color.  The activity also helps teach kids the colors of the rainbow and has an element of art.

We absolutely loved doing the “Grow a Rainbow” science activity.  It takes very little prep, can be done in less than 10 minutes, and is a lesson that teaches so much.

What You’ll Need

  • 1 Paper Towel
  • Washable Markers
    (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple)
  • 2 Small Glass Bowls
  • Water

Step By Step Video


First Grade Science Lesson

Who knew first graders could learn chemistry? This activity teaches them about chromatography, which is the separation of a mixture (marker and paper) by passing it in a solution through a medium (water) in which the components move at different rates.

Prior to starting the experiment, ask your child what they think will happen when the paper towel is put in water (aka “what’s their hypothesis?”). Then after you’ve completed the experiment, ask them to talk to you about what they saw and explain to them why chromatography happens. Ask them if there are other times where they have maybe spilled water on a piece of paper or a magazine and watched the ink run. Explain this is all chromatography in action.

If you need additional ideas or activities to create a chromatography unit, visit and checkout some of their great ideas and explanations. You might also be interested in checking out our “Does Water Grow?” blog post for an alternate science lesson.

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Are you looking for a fun first grade science lesson to do with your kids? This "Grow a Rainbow" science activity is a great way to teach them about molecules, colors, rainbows, and how water grows ... all in one lesson. Additionally, it's a fun activity for any age to teach kids how to grow a rainbow and the colors of the rainbow. This is an easy activity that only requires a paper towel, water, and washable markers.

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