Rainbow Facts for kids

Rainbow Facts for Kids and Teachers

Have you ever looked up into the sky and seen a beautiful arch of colors?  That beautiful arch of color is called a rainbow.  Do you want to learn how rainbows are formed, what they are made out of, or if you find how to find the end of one?

  There are so many interesting facts about rainbows. Find out more with these amazing rainbow facts for kids and teachers.

These rainbow facts are easy to read and are designed to describe a rainbow to a child. Perfect for preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school students.

Rainbow Facts for Kids

What is a Rainbow?

A rainbow by definition is an arc of spectral colors that appears in the sky opposite the sun as a result of the refractive dispersion of sunlight in drops of rain.  So what does that mean?  A rainbow is an arc of colors that appears in the sky when it is raining in one part of the sky and sunny in another.

When does a Rainbow Form?

A rainbow forms when the sun shines through water droplets (raindrops) while it’s raining or was recently raining.  How does that happen? 

Sunlight comes from the sun.  The sun is located in space.  Sunlight has to travel through space and to earth; it does that in what scientists call wavelengths. 

Wavelengths are different colors.  As they are traveling, they blend together and form white light.  When the wavelengths pass through droplets of water (rain), they separate and appear as the colors of a rainbow.

Scientist Isaac Newton explained how a rainbow forms.  He said sunlight is made up of the colors of the rainbow.  When those colors are all mixed together it is called white light. White light is the light we see every day.

When sunlight travels through the air in the same direction, we see white light.  When the sunlight enters through a raindrop the colors separate, causing us to see a rainbow.

The colors of the rainbow are Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.

Rainbow in the sky

What are the Colors of the Rainbow?

An easy way to remember the colors of the rainbow is ROY G. BIV.

R: Red

O: Orange

Y: Yellow

G: Green

B: Blue

I: Indigo

V: Violet

How did the Rainbow get its Name?

It is believed that the rainbow got its name from its shape.  A rainbow’s arc looks similar to a bow for shooting arrows.  People also noticed that this colorful arc would only form when it was raining, so they called it a rainbow.

rainbow in the sky coming out of the clouds. Rainbow Facts for kids

Fun Rainbow Facts for Kids and Teachers

Do you want to hear something cool?  Each raindrop makes its own rainbow! That’s right, every water droplet makes its own rainbow,  but it takes millions of raindrops for us to see a rainbow.

Rainbow Fact: rainbows are full circles; it’s true. We only see one arch of a rainbow because, on the ground, we can only see the light reflecting off raindrops that appear above the horizon. Sometimes people traveling in airplanes or other aircraft can see the entire full-circle rainbow.

A rainbow arch is a 42-degree angle starting from the direction opposite the sun.

Did you know that no two people see the same rainbow? Why? A person standing next to you is standing in a slightly different spot than you; therefore, see the rainbow in a slightly different place.  

The rainbow may look the same, but there a little different because the person next to you sees different raindrops.

When the sun is lower, the rainbow will be higher in the sky. When the sun is higher, the rainbow will be lower in the sky.

We only see a semi-circle rainbow on the ground, but from very high up such as on an airplane, you can see a rainbow in a complete circle.

Rainbows can occur in any season Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall. How have you ever noticed that you don’t see many rainbows in the winter in a cold climate?  This is because in the winter, raindrops freeze into snowflakes, so fewer raindrops fall.

You see more rainbows in tropical locations and by waterfalls.

Earth is the only planet in the solar system where rainbows are possible.

Types of Rainbows: Rainbow Facts for Kids

Did you know that there are different types of rainbows? Some of them are listed below.

Double Rainbow

Double Rainbow
Double Rainbow

Sometimes sunlight is reflected twice inside a raindrop.  When this occurs, we get a secondary rainbow or a double rainbow.

The colors of a secondary or double rainbow are in the opposite order of the primary or first rainbow.  So you will not see ROYGBIV.  You will see VIBGYOR or violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, then Red.

During a double rainbow, you may notice a dark band between the two rainbows (shown in the picture above). This dark band is called Alexander’s Band. It is named after Alexander Aphrodisias over 2,000 years ago.

Moonbows/Lunar Rainbows

Moonbows or lunar rainbows occur when the moon’s light reflects through the raindrop.  This type of rainbow is rare because the moon’s light usually isn’t bright enough for a rainbow to form.

Sun Smiles 

Upside-down rainbows or circumzenithal arcs can sometimes occur.  These unique rainbows are also known as the sun smiles. They form when the sunlight reflects through ice crystals.

Rainbow in the sky above the clouds

How do you get to the End of the Rainbow?

Have you ever heard that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Some people believe that leprechauns leave a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Is the problem you can never get to the end of the rainbow? It is just not possible. A rainbow is an optical illusion.  Every time you move, the rainbow moves too. It never touches the ground.  You cannot touch a rainbow.

Ancient Civilizations and Rainbows

In ancient times many different civilizations had different beliefs about rainbows.

In Greek mythology, Iris was known as the goddess of the rainbow and a message for the gods.  She was believed to use a rainbow as a bridge between the heavens and earth.

The ancient people of Serbia believed that the rainbow was the Storm God’s bow and that he used it to shoot arrows of lightning through the sky.

 Fun Rainbow Experiment for Kids and Teachers

Do you want to try to make a rainbow at home? Try this fun rainbow experiment in the summertime.

Step 1:  Standing with your back to the sun. How do you know your back is to the sun?  Stand where you feel the sun’s heat on your back and look forward.  If your back is getting warm and you can look without squinting, your back is to the sun.

Step 2:  Take a water hose and spray it in front of you, keeping the sun behind you.  Watch what happens. A rainbow should form.

We hope that you enjoyed reading rainbow facts for kids and teachers.  Please check out the link below for fun rainbow-themed foods.  Some are easy enough to do right in the classroom.  Thank you for visiting.

Rainbow-themed foods

Rainbow Coloring Pages

Kids love rainbows! Click the link below to print and color your rainbow coloring page.

Rainbow Worksheets

Print interesting rainbow facts for kids and teachers. Complete rainbow-themed worksheets for kids.