Rainbow Milk

(for ages 5+)


  • Watercolor paper*
  • Milk
  • Dish soap
  • Cotton swabs
  • Food coloring
  • Tray/shallow dish
  • Towels

*Watercolor paper absorbs color the best, but if unavailable, use cardstock. Try not to use binder or printer paper as they don’t absorb as well.

Prep Time:

  • 5 minutes

Recipe for Playful Learning!

Combine science and visual art to create these colorful rainbow sheets that will look great displayed on the walls in your family room or your child’s bedroom!

STEP 1: Working close to a sink, make sure your paper fits into the tray before moving to the next step, (but don’t leave it in the tray yet).

STEP 2: Pour a thin layer of milk into the tray, enough to completely coat the bottom.

STEP 3: Add the food coloring in drops around the tray. Pick different colors each time for new design results!

STEP 4: Add drops of dish soap on top of the food coloring drops and watch the magic begin. Observe how the food coloring moves around in the milk to create a rainbow effect.

STEP 5: Use cotton swabs to swirl your colors.

STEP 6: Place your paper sheet on top of the milk, press down, and quickly pull it out to set aside on a towel to dry.

STEP 7: Let it dry! (After a few days of drying the paper won’t smell from milk anymore!)


To simplify, an adult can carry out steps 1-4 while the child focuses on observing and describing what happens. The adult and child can work together to complete steps 5-7.

To add complexity, encourage children to make a hypothesis (or prediction) about what will happen before carrying out each step. They should then make an observation and decide whether their hypothesis was correct or not. Extend this experiment further by trying different variations, such as comparing results with fat free milk, whole milk, and cream!

Skills to Practice: Chemistry, Creative Design, Critical Thinking

STEAM Focus: Science