This Bead And Pipe Cleaner Rainbow Craft doubles as a piece of art when you use a styrofoam produce tray as a frame. It’s a fun and colourful way for preschoolers and elementary students to strengthen fine-motor skills while crafting for St. Patrick’s Day or Spring.
I always find St. Patrick’s Day a little challenging to craft for because there are only so many shamrock crafts you can do. We tend to gravitate towards rainbow crafts in March because they tie in nicely with St. Patrick’s Day what with leprechauns guarding their pots of gold at the end of the rainbow and all.
You can check out all of our St. Patrick’s Day crafts here,
What they’ll learn
Although it simple, today’s rainbow craft actually provides plenty of learning and skill-development for young children:
- Kids can blend colours as they paint the styrofoam backdrop for their rainbow.
- Fine-motor skills will be challenged as they thread beads on to their pipe cleaners.
- They’ll learn about putting colours in rainbow order.
- They’ll practice colour matching and learn about colour families.
- Older children can use a glue gun to attach their rainbows to the styrofoam tray.
Note: If your children are quite young, you may want to do the hot gluing yourself. Alternatively, you skip the styrofoam tray altogether and make our beaded rainbow sun catchers.
Ok! Let’s get crafting!
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- styrofoam produce tray (sterilized in dishwasher)
- blue paint (for fun, we blended 2 shades together)
- pipe cleaners
- an assortment of beads
- cotton balls
- hot glue gun
Bead and Pipe Cleaner Rainbow Craft
- Prep Styrofoam Tray
Paint your styrofoam produce tray with blue paint. For fun, use 2 or 3 shades of blue, and observe what happens when the blues blend together.
Set your tray aside to dry (or give it a blast with a hairdryer to dry it quickly).
- Thread Pipe Cleaners
Using pipe cleaners in rainbow colours (ROYGBV), have your child thread matching beads on to each pipe cleaner, leaving some space at the end of each pipe cleaner.
This is where you can talk to your child about colour families (darker and lighter shades of one colour). For example, turquoise, navy and light blue beads can all go on the blue pipe cleaner. Magenta, red and burgundy beads can all go on the red pipe cleaner.
- Put in Rainbow Order
Once all of your pipe cleaners are threaded with beads, you’ll lay them out in rainbow order (also known as spectrum order). Remember good ol’ Roy G. Biv? That’s the mnemonic for remembering rainbow order. R=Red, O=Orange, Y=Yellow, G=Green, B=Blue, O=Orange, V=Violet.
- Glue to Tray
Bend the red pipe cleaner into an arc and glue it to the styrofoam tray using a few dabs of hot glue.
Follow with the orange pipe cleaner, then yellow etc., nestling each one close to the pipe cleaner next to it and gluing in place.
You’ll notice as you go along that you’ll have to trim the inner pipe cleaners so all of the pipe cleaners will be even on the bottom. Another teachable moment!
- Add clouds
To finish, stretch and fluff a few cotton balls and glue them in a way that they hide the ends of the pipe cleaners.
And now you have a colourful piece of beaded rainbow art to display in your home or classroom.
Now…. if only we could find the pot of gold!
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.