Addendum related to children's literature and music:
Of course there are tons of children's books on rainbows, including the science of rainbows as well as stories about rainbows. Look on amazon or some other bookseller for these books.

There are even some books on discos. Here are a few that looked interesting:
The Furry Disco by Jo Kearly
  • ISBN-10: 0595391303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595391301

The 1970s from Watergate to Disco, (Decades of the 20th Century in Color) by Steven Feinstein
  • ISBN-10: 076602637X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0766026377

Hip Hop Speaks to Children with CD: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat (Poetry Speaks Experience)
  • ISBN-10: 1402210485
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402210488
Disco is mentioned as a type of beat in at least one poem, so the relationship between this book and disco is not strong. However, it is such a well-reviewed book and a great way for young people to enjoy poetry, that it's listed here. This is the kind of book that would appeal to all ages--older students can be encouraged to write their own poetry with a beat.

Songs about rainbows:
Oddly enough, despite what Kermit the Frog says in "Rainbow Connection" ("why are there so many songs about rainbows...") there are not that many songs about rainbows.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow, sung by Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz (Amazon also lists a picture book that illustrates this song).
The Candy Man Can, sung by Sammy Davis, Jr., but has also been identified as a thinly-veiled song about drugs.

And then I hit a goldmine in the form of
This is a collection of old folk songs from a variety of places. Here are some ballads and the like that have something to do with rainbows.
Ward the Pirate
This is a song about Ward the pirate takes over the Royal Rainbow (a ship). This is a very old song (a ballad collected by Sir Francis Child in the British Isles during the nineteenth century, but also mentioned in Pepys diary in the 17th century) that has some basis in history. A midi link is on the page so you can gain access to the melody. With Pirates of the Caribbean so popular, students may enjoy singing a song that was probably created when those pirates ruled the seas.
Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier--"Gone the rainbow, gone the dove..." the rainbow here is a symbol of happiness. It's also interesting to look at the songs that are referenced on the page for having some similar lyrics.

Choose a weird or seemingly random topic that is not necessarily a school topic. Things like a peanut butter sandwich or Sponge Bob Squarepants. How could you get from that topic to something school related? In this case, it was rainbows--refraction--science; disco--reflection--science. Further, how could you create a lesson that begins with your initial topic and yet still meets some Ohio standards?

Once again, our students have challenged us to new heights which we are enjoying. The topic that emerged was Discos and Rainbows. This topic might take a couple or three classes to fully explore.

Something that is implicit to this activity needs to be made explicit and that is the objectives we had for this lesson.

The science objective was for students to understand the differences between reflection and refraction.
The Ed 214/314 objective was for students to experience learning about science through the arts, specifically the visual arts and movement.

First step:
Geometric bubbles and Claymation for 214:

Here are the soap bubbles:

This page includes a soap bubble recipe and the idea of using straws and pipe cleaners (now called "Fuzzy Sticks" if you want to find them at Walmart) to create bubble shapes. Using this lesson can meet math standards (2d and 3d shapes, geometry) as well as science (light and bubbles).

Claymation you can find right here on the wiki.

Claymation is a great way for students to create demonstrations as well as to create stories. All of this has literacy connections (summarizing, following steps, making presentations without "Death by Powerpoint," and so forth).

Step two:

Make disco balls
Bubbles (do these two things at the same time).
Notice how mirrors on the disco ball and bubbles do different things with light. One has a rainbow and the other doesn't. Focus on getting students to make observations--can use a Venn diagram to note the similarities and differences.

Teaching reflection: (reflecting on using these processes in the classroom) what about the processes of doing this project (making disco balls, bubbles) in a class works really well? What could be changed?

It turns out that Discos and Rainbows is an excellent topic because it leads quite naturally to the concepts of reflection and refraction. Making the disco balls and the soap bubbles and then observing how they interact with light sets up learning about these concepts (which are in the science standards).

Step three:
Reflecting vs. refracting light

What things reflect light? What things refract light? (when you look at a spoon in a glass of water and it doesn't line up, that's another example of refracting light). You can always demonstrate this--it adds to the richness of the experience.

Reflecting and refracting demonstration.
This is interactive so it can be played with by different students on the Smartboard.

Other possible web-based demonstrations and information. These are good to explore before teaching this lesson so you know you fully understand all concepts. (explanation of rainbows and refraction, also complicated demonstration of this)

One other thing to be aware of: why is it that the spoon in water trick yields the illusion but not a rainbow whereas the bubbles (and droplets of water) in sunlight breaks down the light into its component colors and each one of the colors travels at a different rate of speed through the water and to the outside.

Step four:
Movement-related learning

One group of students is a mirror and they line up with their arms locked together so there “light” cannot get through. Other students are the light and they strike (gently) the mirror and bounce off.

One group of students is a medium through which light travels such as a glass of water. Instead of standing with arms locked tight, they stand about three people deep with space between that the light particles can get through. The light particles move through the medium. If they run up to the medium then they have to slow down to get through the medium.

More resources:

Ohio Standards that this set of activities can meet: (second grade standards)


Standard 9: Understands the sources and properties of energy. Topic: Forms of energy. Level I [Grade K-2] Benchmark 5. Knows that light travels in a straight line until it strikes an object. (we are working with light and what happens to it when it strikes certain types of surfaces--reflective and translucent)
Standard 12. Understands the nature of scientific inquiry. Topic: Scientific investigation. Level I [Grade K-2] Benchmark 1. Knows that learning can come from careful observations and simple experiments (this process includes observations of light striking different types of surfaces).

Language Arts:
Standard 9. Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media. Topic Critical viewing. Level I [Grade K-2] Benchmark 1. Understands the main idea or message in visual media (e.g., graphics, animation, comic books, television) (Use of Venn diagram for recording and analyzing observations).
Standard 8.: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes. Topic: Conversation and group discussion. Level I [Grade K-2]. Benchmark 1. Makes contributions in class and group discussions (e.g., reports on ideas and personal knowledge about a topic, initiates conversations, connects ideas and experiences with those of others) (observations are discussed in class).
Standard 4. Gathers and uses information for research purposes. Topic: Writing research papers. Level I [Grade K-2]. Benchmark 1. Researches topics of personal interest (e.g., generate questions about a topic, participates in shared research projects, records observations). (Recording observations, participating in a shared research project, albeit small; data could contribute to a larger research project).
Standard 4.: Gathers and uses information for research purposes. Topics 1. Locating sources/gathering information; 2. Applying technology. Level I [Grade K-2]. Benchmark 2. Uses a variety of sources to gather information (e.g., informational books, pictures, charts, indexes, videos, television programs, guest speakers, Internet, own observation) (We are gathering information through observation).








Art forms: visual arts, music, and movement.


Our group (Nick Topits, Joel Schallhorn, Kori Keeton, Sara Mackay, Kristen Rainey) took the book To Root, to Toot, to Parachute: What is a Verb be Brian P. Cleary, which dealt with verbs and the different things that verbs do and with that, decided that we could make a movement activity in which kids would break into groups and create their own rhyming verb page. They would then take the verbs on the page and bring them to life by acting out their scenario as someone reads. They can create their scenario based on something that happened to them during the day, or something they like to do, or even a specific unit that the class might be studying at the time, the choice of which depending on how guided the teacher wants the activity to be. This activity covers a number of language arts objectives, especially those dealing parts of speech and rhyming words.

As we demonstrated this activity to our class, we found it to be very important that we modeled what we expected of the class as there was some confusion and discomfort as we began. We also found good classroom management to be important and with some individual attention to each of the groups, people opened up and created some fun stories about waking up and about playing with friends (Rolled out of bed, found something red to put on my head and go play with Ted).