Why Would We Stop “Mixing A Rainbow?”

Sometimes it just takes a small moment to make you stop and think. This is what happened to me today. As I was packing up to get ready for home, a few students in the After Care Program (which runs in our classroom) called me over to see the puffy paint they were making together. They were making a few different colours, and when the After Care Facilitator, Miss Michelle, asked what colour they wanted next, the students insisted on “rainbow.” Both Miss Michelle and I mentioned that if all of the colours were mixed together, they would just get brown puffy paint. And this was the moment …

It was Annabel’s comment that made me open up my bag, take out my iPad, and record this video. I just had to capture the “rainbow.”

In her three sentences, this Kindergarten student summed up what inquiry and play-based learning are all about. It’s not about the final product, the right answer, or the quick response: it’s about the process!

Inadvertently, I almost took that away from the students in this group.

  • Why did I have to tell them what would happen?
  • Why did I have to stop the experiment?
  • Why did the final colour matter anyway?

Tonight, I’m grateful for some four- and five-year-olds that did not back down. I’m grateful for an amazing After Care Facilitator that heard their words and listened to their request. And I’m grateful for the reminder that we should always make time to wonder, to experiment, and to find out for ourselves. 

At the beginning of the school year, so many of our students just wanted to know the “correct answer.” Now they share and test theories, create experiments, solve problems, and realize the value that comes from owning the learning. Thinking about this child’s wise words tonight, I’m hoping that the “process” always holds as much joy for her as it does now. Maybe we all need to believe that “mixing a rainbow” is possible … or at least honour the voices of those that do. What do you think?


4 thoughts on “Why Would We Stop “Mixing A Rainbow?”

    • Thanks for the comment, Doug! There’s something special about how Kindergarten students can get a person thinking. I love how they made you consider something that I never even thought about. Thank you for the link to the article — I’m now going to check out why.


  1. What a great story! It was exactly what I needed this morning. I think, as teachers, we all kind of mix a rainbow every day. We are like those kids. We put a bunch of drops together that theoretically should come out to brown, a unified colour, a specific set of expectations, but it doesn’t because not everything mixes in the same way and along the way different drops get added and that changes things. Teaching and learning are processes that hopefully are full of joy, where the outcome is anticipated but not entirely certain, and which occasionally lead to surprising results (some of which can truly be glorious).

    • I really like your analogy here, Melanie! I love how you took this anecdote in a slightly different, but just as important, direction. There really is a lot of value in mixing a rainbow. Thanks for your comment!


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