Over the rainbow, or at least San Diego- a DIY color sorting activity

Rainbow cups, "men", & balls

Once again I briefly abandoned blogging for a family trip.  We actually headed back down to the San Diego area, but this time for a wedding reception.

As we flew, and I prefer to NOT be hated by the other passengers, I had to come up with some things for the boys to play with en route as well as while we were there, because I also prefer my extended family not to hate me. :)

Ideally, these things would be at least vaguely educational, light & small (i.e. packing friendly).  I saw this idea over at a cute little Etsy shop.  I found the wooden pieces over at Michael’s craft store (Don’t forget to check Michaels.com for coupons!!!).


  • 1 package “Candle Cup[s]” (7/8 inch hole, 6 pieces in package)
  • 3 packages “Man/ Game Piece” (2 3/8 inch, 2 per package)
  • water-color paints (I used Crayola)
  • paint brushes
  • cup of water

Bonus item: Package of round wooden balls. I’ll try to remember to update this with the size.

I don’t have any actions shots of making or playing with these, as they were used for critical travelling-child-entertainment, which is not very photography-friendly. I’ll try to update with some action shots later too…

But here is a picture I took of them after getting kids to bed so I could write this post!:

Rainbow cups, "men", & balls
Rainbow cups, “men”, & balls- I altered between giving them the “men” or the balls with the cups, to keep things interesting. :) But no balls on the plane.  That’s just asking to get stiffed on your in-flight snacks…

These were simple to make:

Paint the objects with your selected water-colors.  A lot (multiple coats).

I let Br (4 years) paint the cups, which was a nice fine-motor/art activity (as long as he was interested), and appropriate for the minimal supervision/guidance of when we were trying to do it.  If I’d been less rushed, it might have been nice to let him paint all of them himself. 

Voice of Experience: Probably a better idea to paint these BEFORE you let the kids play with them in a restaurant. :) Greasy fingerprints interfered with the “absorption” of the water colors in spots.  The other option might have been to lightly sand them before painting them, which may have helped it get a more even coloring.  But, …I didn’t pack any sand paper…

The Etsy shop mentioned sealing with beeswax, which I haven’t tried yet.

What do you think? Do I need a few more coats of water colors before I try to coat it with beeswax? Any other suggestions for getting a more even color saturation?

And here is a gratuitous picture of the fam, including my (long-divorced, and friendly) parents:

The family outside the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Closing out the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

For you observant types: yes, they are my genetic parents. I don’t know why I am so short either.

Hey, great news! There is an awesome giveaway going on over at Montessori Living Now: free awesome ebook “Montessori At Home”  (where our beloved plumbing activity came from), PLUS a bundle of materials from Montessori Print Shop!

But hurry over- the giveaway ends October 25th!

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7 thoughts on “Over the rainbow, or at least San Diego- a DIY color sorting activity”

  1. I like the colors as they are, but you could always try food coloring for more vibrant colors? The ones that come in little tiny containers at Michaels (by Wilcox, I think) make for strong colors; maybe you could mix with a small amount of water and paint on? I’ve never tried it, but might be worth an attempt.

    Visiting from We Teach =)

    1. Ooooh. Thank you for that suggestion! I’ve been thinking about making more of these for little Xmas gifts. I ‘ll have to check those out. And thank you for stopping by!

    1. Thanks Deb! It has been neat to see how Bl has progressed in matching colors since I first made it. I need to still update the post with some pics of them “in use”, but Bl has definitely enjoyed them.
      San Diego is lovely to visit, and such wonderful things for the kids (beaches, San Diego Zoo & Safari Park, Scripps Aquarium…)
      I am sad I didn’t win myself, but awesome discount offerd for us “non-winners”! I have the new Montessori-at Home book already, but I am totally excited to order the Montessori Print Shops bundle to go with it!!

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