Real Quadruple Rainbow

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Real Quadruple Rainbow

May 18, 2019

Have you ever seen a real rainbow? Maybe a little one on the wall from sun shining through angled glass, or a giant one in the sky (which you find by standing with your back to the sun, then looking forward 40 degrees to your left and right). A single rainbow has stripes of all the colors — red, orange, all the way to violet — but sometimes it’s stacked under another backwards rainbow that runs from violet to red. That’s called a double rainbow, and it’s very special because it’s so rare. That’s why people love this photo of two double rainbows. Amanda Curtis saw it over a train station in Long Island and quickly snapped a picture. No one is sure how the sun made these shapes, but we’re lucky the camera caught it before they disappeared.

Wee ones: A rainbow has red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Try to find 1 thing in your room of each color. How many things did you find in total?

Little kids: Some say the rainbow has 1 more color than the above: “indigo” (between blue and purple). How many colors does that rainbow have? Bonus: You can take any 2 of the “primary” colors — red, yellow and blue — and mix them to make a “secondary” color (like orange, which mixes red and yellow). How many different pairs of primary colors can you choose to mix?

Big kids: If you could see 7 sharp stripes in each of the 4 rainbows here, how many colored stripes would you see in total? Bonus: Rainbows in the sky usually don’t last long. If the rainbow appeared at 6:58 pm and lasted just 5 minutes, when did it disappear?



Wee ones: 6 things, if you find one of each of those colors. Items might include socks, Lego blocks, other toys, and book covers.

Little kids: 7 colors. Bonus: 3 pairs: red+yellow, yellow+blue, and red+blue. Those give you orange, green and purple — the other 3 colors in the 6-color rainbow!

Big kids: 28 stripes. Bonus: At 7:03 pm.

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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