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“Planting a Rainbow” Activities

About the Book

Planting a Rainbow is written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert and is a story about a mother and child who plant and cultivate a variety of different flowers in their garden, creating a rainbow of flowers. The author and illustrator used many vibrant and bold illustrations to capture the growing flowers of various shapes, sizes and colours of the rainbow.

Reading the Story

If you do not own a hard copy of Planting a Rainbow, there are online resources available in the format of read-aloud and signed story videos on YouTube.

  • Read-aloud video
    The read-aloud video displays the story read aloud (spoken English) by an adult woman with a close-up view of the pages and print of the book. Captioning can be enabled for this video through YouTube settings.
  • Signed Story/ ASL Storytelling
    The signed story/ASL storytelling video of Planting a Rainbow is translated and retold using American Sign Language (ASL). Captioning is not available for this video.

Speech Development

Practice your child’s speech sounds by emphasizing and drawing attention to specific words and objects in the story.

  • Initial /s/ words: seeds, seedlings, sow, set, soil, select, summer
  • Initial /r/ words: rainbow, red, rake, ready
  • Consonant clusters (e.g., pl, fl, bl, gr, br, spr): plants, planting, flowers, blooms, blue, blossom, green, ground, grow, spring, sprout, etc.

Receptive/Expressive Communication

While Reading:

  • Target specific vocabulary:
    • Seasons: fall, winter, spring, and summer
    • Colours: red, yellow, orange, green, blue, and purple, rainbow
    • Gardening vocabulary: garden, flowers, blooms, bulbs, plants, soil, seeds, seedlings, catalogue, and garden center.
    • Names of different flowers: Phlox, Morning Glory, Zinnia, Aster, etc.
  • Describing flowers- Model and take turns describing the flowers in the book E.g., tall, thin, full, small, large, describe its shape and colours, etc.
  • Differences/ opposites- Compare the different flowers in the book to identify how they are different. (e.g., “The yellow flower is taller than the purple flower.”). Address how they are opposites: small/little vs. big/large, short vs. tall, same vs. different.
  • Similarities- Compare the flowers to find similarities (e.g., “All of these flowers are red.”, “All of these flowers have large petals.”).
  • Questions- Work on wh- questions and prediction skills with your child. E.g., when do we plant bulbs? Where do seeds come from? What do seeds become? When do the flowers begin to grow?, what does a flower need to grow?, what will happen after planting the seed?.
  • How many?- Count the number of flowers on a page or are of a particular colour (e.g., “how many flowers are blue?”).

After Reading:

  • Flower craft- You and your child create a flower craft that may be drawn, painted, crafted from paper, or moulded from playdough. You can also work on your child’s ability to follow directions by having them copy you or follow your directions. After you are finished, take turns describing the flower by talking about its size, colour, and other details.
  • Prepositions- Practice prepositions when retelling the story or planting together. E.g., “put the seed IN the soil, put the soil ON the top, the roots grow UNDER the soil, etc.
  • Parts of a flower- Explore the different parts of a flower (e.g., petal, stem, leaf, roots, etc.). Create a picture or craft to label the different parts of a flower. What’s missing?- intentionally leave-out or remove a piece of the flower and ask your child what’s missing.
  • Flower scavenger hunt- Go on a scavenger hunt to find flowers outside. Take pictures of the flowers and search online to find out more about those particular flowers. See if the flowers you and your child found are in the book Planting a Rainbow.
  • Experience book- Create an experience book of planting a flower or garden.
  • Object function- When planting or gardening with your child, talk about the function of each garden tool. Make-up chants while working together- “the shovel goes dig, dig, dig, dig, …the hose goes spray, spray, spray, spray…”

Linguistic processing
Pragmatics/Social Communication

  • Story-retell/ Pretend play- Pretend to plant a garden or re-enact the story by using actions or by creating objects from the story with paper or playdough.
  • Role-Play- You and your child can pretend to buy plants and flowers from a garden centre. Model and encourage your child to use social greetings (hello, goodbye), ask and answer questions and provide opinions and preferences (e.g., I really like the bright pink flowers). You can also work on their money skills with play money.
  • Taking turns & Sharing- Encourage your child to share and take turns when creating a craft, during role-play or when retelling the story together.
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