"I can make a rainbow!" Yes, you can – even if you're only 2 – with this fun and easy art idea, using cotton wool balls and watered-down paint.


Abi Walker from our MadeForMums Community created this rainbow activity with her daughter Maisie, 2 – and shared some great step-by-step how-to pictures with us.

We found this a relatively mess-free activity. As the paints were watered down, we didn’t get absolutely covered in paint and it was easy to keep on top of
Abi Walker, MFM crafter and mum of Maisie, 2

Abi also says that Maisie found using the pipette easier than she'd expected – and using the medicine syringe was even easier. "I though it would be a challenge for toddler hands," Abi says, "but it worked well – Maisie managed fine with both.

"The whole activity was great fun. And we even managed to get a few rainbow prints from it onto some more paper before it dried – which was another exciting addition!"

Here's how to make your cotton wool rainbow

how to make a cotton wool rainbow materials

You will need:

  • A4 piece of card (or larger)
  • A pencil
  • Double-sided sticky tape
  • Cotton wool balls (lots)
  • Paints in rainbow colours
  • Plates or containers for each colour paint
  • Pipette or child medicine syringe

Step 1: Draw and tape the rainbow shape

how to make a cotton wool rainbow step 1

On your piece of card, draw the curved lines of a rainbow (you can do all 7 but we just drew 5), equally spaced and far enough apart to allow enough space to fit the cotton-wool balls. Cover each curved line with a strip of double-sided sticky tape. This makes for a fun peel-and-stick game.

More like this

Step 2: Complete the sticky shape

how to make a cotton wool rainbow step 2

You should end up with something that looks like this.

Step 3: Stick on the cotton wool balls

how to make a cotton wool rainbow step 3

Stick the cotton balls along each sticky-tape line.

Step 4: Drop paint onto the cotton wool balls

how to make a cotton wool rainbow step 4

Put a blob of each colour paint into separate plates or containers and add a little water (not too much: the more paint, the brighter the colours). Use your pipette or syringe to draw up some of one paint colour and drop a little onto each cotton ball in the outer rainbow ring. Watch the water get absorbed! Repeat with the next ring and a different paint colour.

Step 5: Let it dry – and you're done!

how to make a cotton wool rainbow final

Once all of your colours are done, leave your rainbow to dry. This can take some time depending on how wet the rainbow actually gets. (Ours was soaked!)

Pics: Abi Walker


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Helen Brown
Helen BrownHead of Content Delivery

Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies and a mum of 3. Before joining MadeForMums, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.