bubble wrap filled with coloured water

I love activities that keep my kids’ attention for a long while, and this rainbow bubble wrap stained glass project is one of those. For such a unique process, it uses really basic materials, and even better, it’s a way to teach kids about the science behind colour theory. When they’re finished, this science experiment makes for a colourful decoration to hang in a window. When the sun shines through, it looks gorgeous! For sanity saving purposes, hang the bubble wrap on the outside of your window, that way if it gets bumped or falls, it doesn’t stain your floor.

What is colour theory?

For an in-depth explanation, visit the colour theory Wikipedia page. Here’s the explanation that I gave to my kids that relate to this science experiment:

There are primary colours (red, yellow, and blue), from which all colours are made. Primary colours can be combined in many ways to create secondary colours, and tertiary colours. A cool way to learn about what happens when you mix different colours is to see it all happen at once, and this science experiment for exploring colour theory with bubble wrap does just the trick. We’re spending the afternoon together combining the three primary colours to see what, and how many, colours we can come up with.

RELATED: 19 Spectacular Rainbow Crafts

bubble wrap packing tape food coloring

Supplies:

  • bubble wrap, (the kind with big bubbles)*
  • scissors
  • tape
  • pipettes
  • liquid watercolours or food colouring in primary colours (red, yellow, and blue)
  • water
  • little cups
  • towel

*The little bubble bubble wrap will work, it just requires more hole snipping and more precision with the pipette. Small bubble wrap is not recommended.

Instructions:

cutting bubble wrap

Step 1: Take the scissors and cut a small hole in the top of each bubble on the sheet. Make sure all the cuts are on the same side of bubbles.

Step 2: Use tape to hang the bubble wrap on a window or on an outdoor surface.

tray of coloured dyes

dropper with coloured water into bubble wrap

Step 3: Fill the bubble pockets with colour with the pipettes. Special note: You can rinse out the colours and reuse the bubble sheet over and over.

bubble wrap stained glass

Pretty simple, right? Here are some tips to ensure maximum success.

Water down the colours. Err on the side of too-diluted colours. Deep colour tone doesn’t allow light through very well, which makes it hard to see the colour. And mixing dark tones with dark tones makes even darker colours. Stay light!

bubble wrap stained glass

Keep it simple for little hands. For the five and under crew, just fill the bubbles with colour, any which way they want. They will mix colours on their own to create new colours and love it. It’s a good fine motor exercise filling the pipettes and putting the pipettes in the holes cut in the bubbles.

rainbow bubble wrap

Teach an art lesson. For the older group, this can be an exercise in very basic colour theory. Use only the primary colours, red, yellow and blue (remember, dilute them!). With these colours, many more colours can be created.

bubble wrap stained glass

Make an infinite amount of colours. Fill a row or two with red, a row or two with yellow, and a row or two with blue. By adding varying drops of colours, other tones and colours can be created. Start with just a drop or two in one bubble, and then in the next bubble try four drops.

Red + blue = red violet, magenta, jam, fuchsia, plum, violet, eggplant, purple, wine

Red + yellow = bittersweet, burnt orange, gold orange, orange, tangerine, marigold

Yellow + blue = spring green, pea green, kelly, lime, chartreuse, shamrock, emerald

colourful bubble wrap

Just add water. Adding extra water to the bubbles will lighten the colours and fill the bubbles more (making it look really, really cool!).

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