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Day 20 - Rainbows (creative ideas for teaching English and maths at home)

For anyone new to this blog, the idea is simple - each day my boys (Joshua - 9 and Archie - 7) choose a stimulus that drives the learning. We hope that you enjoy the blog and can take some inspiration from what we love doing - making learning as engaging as possible!



Thank you to Kimberley O'Connor and her boys Finlay and Benjamin for today's theme. At the moment, rainbows are everywhere - a symbol of hope in these challenging times. In fact, sighting a rainbow has long been believed to be a promise of good things to come. So today's learning is all in celebration of this wonderful stimulus.



  • poetry

  • exploring language for effect

  • figurative techniques

  • sentence type (statement, question, exclamation, command)

Activity 1:

The first piece of writing is an activity we explored on with Pie Corbett.

The idea is a simple but amazingly effective one:

  1. Write down the colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet

  2. Brainstorm ideas that you associate with each colour. Focus on concrete nouns (e.g. a red bus or an orange traffic cone, etc.)

  3. Then choose the three you like most and create a little Eye Spy poem, as modelled below. Encourage the children to use the poem pattern, which is teaching them how to use little patterns of three ideas with commas to separate.

Eye Spy

with my (insert colour) eye,

idea 1,

idea 2

and idea 3.

Here is the boys collaborative poem, plus a reading:

Eye Spy with my Rainbow Eye

Eye Spy

with my red eye,

poppies swaying in the field,

juicy cherries bulging

and an Angry Bird, stomping its feet.

Eye Spy

with my orange eye,

a snowman’s carrot nose,

a basket ball bouncing by

and a goldfish, swimming in delight.

Eye Spy

with my yellow eye,

a laughing, morning sun,

Mc Donald’s giant M

and a cheeky rubber ducky in the bath.

Eye Spy

with my green eye,

a Christmas elf,

a green M&M

and the Hulk, smashing and crashing.

Eye Spy

with my blue eye,

a sneaky smurf,

salty seas

and a peacock, showing off.

Eye Spy

with my indigo eye,

a slithery snake,

enormous aubergines

and blueberries, sitting upon pancakes.

Eye Spy

with my violet eye,

a fading sunset,

lavender swishing

and Gandalf’s robes, billowing in the wind.

by Joshua and Archie

Activity 2:

The second activity is inspired by the poem 'Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird' by Wallace Stevens. The concept is that you take an object and explore it in a number of different ways. The following activity is an adaptation of this idea taken from Pie Corbett's book 'Jumpstart! Poetry'.

Firstly, we looked at some abstract representations of rainbows to help the boys think creatively.

Then, we make a list of all the different ways we could look at or explore a rainbow.

Here is what we came up with. You will note that many of these ideas link to our previous blogs:

  • Compare it to something using a simile (as / like).

  • Write an instruction for a rainbow (command).

  • Ask it a question.

  • Write a wish.

  • Write a lie.

  • Personify it (give it human qualities)

  • Alliterate it (same initial sound).

  • Write a metaphor.

  • Write a little rhyme.

  • Write a riddle.

  • Write a one-sentence story.

  • Explore onomatopoeia (words that sound like their meaning).

  • Sell a rainbow (persuasion).

  • Explain how it is made (instruction).

We then took each in turn and brainstormed ideas, chose our favourites and had fun playing with the ideas. Here is what we came up with:

Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Rainbow

A rainbow is like a magical rollercoaster, arching across the brilliant sky. (Simile)

Rainbow, stretch yourself to eternity and fill the world with hope and happiness! (Instruction)

Rainbow, what do you taste like? (Question)

I wish I were a rainbow, gazed upon by all in awe and wonder. (Wish)

When a rainbow breathes, it exhales colour that depicts its mood. (Lie)

The rainbow painted the sky by numbers. (Personify)

Random rainbows ripple relentlessly round rampant, rocking rhinos. (Alliterate)

A rainbow is a kaleidoscope of kites, dancing in the sky. (Metaphor)

Red orange, yellow and green,

Blue, indigo and violet - supreme! (Rhyme)

I am extremely colourful and with sun and rain,

I show my face then disappear again. (Riddle)

I sat upon the rainbow, gazing down upon the earth, and realised that I never wanted to return to a world that lacked colour. (1 sentence story)

With a fizz, the rainbow zoomed across the sky. (Onomatopoeia)

The brightest, tastiest, most life-changing accessory a princess could ever wish for. (Persuade)

Just take a pot of sprinkles and cast them across an empty sky. (Instruct)

© Jamie Thomas 2020

Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Rainbow by Archie

A rainbow is like a colourful helicopter, soaring through the air. (Simile)

Rainbow, spray out rainbow colours and brighten the world! (Instruction)

Rainbow, what do you eat? (Question)

I wish you had golden sprinkles that shone all around. (Wish)

At the end of the rainbow there will be a prize pot of gold. (Lie)

The rainbow skipped around the sky. (Personify)

Rocking rainbows retreat round rocks with rats and racoons. (Alliterate)

A rainbow is a a cloud of colours. (Metaphor)

Rainbow, Rainbow in the sky,

Can you catch a dancing fly? (Rhyme)

I've got all the bright colours, I'm in the sky and you cannot touch me. (Riddle)

As I got to the end of the rainbow, there it was - the pot of gold. (1 sentence story)

A honk of colour spread gently across the sky. (Onomatopoeia)

The most beautiful thing I have ever seen. (Persuade)

Plant ice cream in a pot - remember to sprinkle golden smarties on top. (Instruct)

Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Rainbow by Joshua

A rainbow is like a giant's hairband or a sparkly slide. (Simile)

Rainbow, stay there all day! (Instruction)

Rainbow, why do you have to go so soon? (Question)

I wish you were made out of cardboard, paint, glitter and sprinkles so I could keep you forever.(Wish)

Rainbow dragons flutter in the colours. (Lie)

The rainbow screamed in my ears. (Personify)

Rainbow rhinos rocket with rats and racoons. (Alliterate)

A rainbow is a piece of sky coral. (Metaphor)

How are you so high,

up there in the sky? (Rhyme)

I've got all the brightest colours and stay in the sky for a little while. (Riddle)

I sat on the rainbow and fell to the ground. (1 sentence story)

A rainbow is a dragon's hiccup.. (Onomatopoeia)

The sparkliest thing I have ever seen. (Persuade)

Plant rainbow seeds in a pot and wait. (Instruct)



  • using a compass

  • number bonds

  • equivalent fractions

  • multiplication and times tables facts

Rainbows are a really great resource to simplify some mathematical concepts, especially if you have children like mine that benefit from visual, practical application. Here are a few fun activities that you may like to try:

Activity 1: Drawing a rainbow

This is a really great practical activity if you have a pair of compasses at home. It teaches the children how to use a set of compasses and also tees you up nicely for activity 2.

Activity 2: Number bonds

You can choose any number bonds to explore, depending on what you think your children need. Write a number at one end of the rainbow and the children have to write the matching bond, depending on the focus.

Activity 3: Equivalent Fractions

This great activity helps to illustrate that when finding equivalent fractions, whatever you do to the top (numerator), you do to the bottom (denominator).


If you have enjoyed reading this blog, please do follow us. Alternatively, you may like to follow me on Twitter: @JamieWTSA.

We are so thankful to those of you who have inundated us with stimulus requests. We have made a list and will do our best to explore as many as we can. Do tune in tomorrow, when our stimulus is


Our thanks to Roslyn Everson and her children Laura and Hannah, and Kimberley O'Connor and her boys Finlay and Benjamin for the idea.

My thanks to Pie Corbett and Talk for Writing for inspiring many of the ideas explored in this blog.

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