Donna enjoys using her arts background to create fun craft projects with a special focus on using repurposed or handy household materials.
Rainbows are a cheerful symbol of hope and brighter days! This easy children's project can be used as a fun introduction to basic weaving techniques. Young children will need adult help with the technique and adults should do the initial preparation for setting up the plate loom, but kids will enjoy watching their rainbow appear before their eyes.
This is a "make and make do" project, using materials that are basic and handy. You can use any weight of scrap yarn for this project. For each color of the rainbow, you only need about 3 feet of yarn. If you don't have one color, you can just substitute two shades of another. For instance, I didn't have any yellow or orange yarn for my sample, so I used caramel and two shades of red to complete my rainbow. By using what you have on hand, each rainbow is unique!
Colors of the Rainbow
The true colors of the rainbow, in descending order, are:
- A paper or foam plate - use a sturdy plate that has a raised rim
- Various shades of scrap yarn - you can mix weights and fibers. You will need about 3 feet of each color for each rainbow plate project.
- String or cord for setting up your loom - you can use string, yarn, or a shoelace. I used nylon fishing line.
- A sharp tool for punching holes in the plate - you can use one side of a pair of scissors, a hole punch, a pin, a skewer, or a knitting needle.
- A pair of scissors and a pencil
- Transparent tape
- Cotton balls or fiber fill (optional) - to serve as clouds
- White craft glue (optional) for attaching the cotton ball clouds
- Tapestry needle (optional) - this is a large needle with a large eye and a dull point. A tapestry needle would be helpful in the weaving of your rainbow, but not essential. Tapestry needles are available at yarn stores and the craft department of most big box stores. If you don't have a tapestry needle, you can wrap tape around the end of your yarn like a shoelace.
Preparing the Paper Plate for Weaving
Adults should probably set up the plate for weaving in advance of starting this project.
1. Cut your paper or foam plate in half. You do not need to cut the plate perfectly in half. All you need is a semi-circular shape.
I also covered the design on my plate with white paint, but this is not necessary.
2. Using your sharp tool, punch 5 holes just below the rim of your paper or foam plate. Make sure your holes are large enough to accept your string or cord for setting up your loom. Follow the placement illustrated in Diagram 1 above. You can estimate the placement of these holes, but make sure the lower holes are at least 1 inch from the cut edge of your plate.
3. Then punch an additional 5 holes in a semi-circle in the lower center of your plate as illustrated in Diagram 1. Make sure your holes are large enough to accept your string or cord. You can estimate the placement of these holes, but make sure the lower holes in this area are about 1 inch from the cut edge of your plate.
4. Next, start stringing your plate loom. Tie a knot at the end of your string or cord. Working from the back of your plate, feed the string through the top hole of the left hand side of your plate to the front. Use Diagram 2 as reference.
5. Then bring your string through the lower hole on the left hand side of your plate. Pull it through this hole to the back of the plate. Pull the string or cord taut but not so tight that it bends or warps your plate.
6. Now working again on the back of the plate, bring the string up through the upper second hole from the left to the front of the plate. Keep your string tight and feed it through the lower corresponding hole.
7. Repeat this process to feed the string through your remaining holes as seen in Diagram 2. When you have run your string or cord through all the holes, tie of the end in a knot on the back of your plate. You can use some tape to hold the knot in place in the back.
8. With your hole tool, punch a new hole behind your left hand string. Place the new hole down by the lower center holes. See Diagram 3 for placement.
Begin Weaving Your Paper Plate Loom
9. Thread your tapestry needle with the yarn that you are going to use for the bottom color in your rainbow (see the rainbow color order at the top of this tutorial). If you do not have a tapestry needle, you can wrap the end of your yarn with tape like a shoelace to make it easier to thread through the holes.
10. Tie a knot in the other end of your yarn.
11. Using the new hole that you punched on the lower left hand side, feed your yarn from the back of the plate to the front. Pull your yarn until your knot is against the back of the plate.
12. Take your yarn and cross it over the first string, then pull it behind the first string, and across the first string again to create a full loop. Use Diagram 4 for reference.
13. Working toward the right, now bring your yarn across the front of your next string, and wrap it around the back. Then pull it again across the front.
14. Continue in this pattern as your work across all five strings. Pull your string taut, but not so tight as too pull out your strings. See photo above.
15. When you get to your last string on the first row, loop your yarn across the front of the last string, then behind it. Next, start working back across your loom. For each string, pull your yarn across the front of the string, then behind it, and move on to the next string to create a loop. See Diagram 5.
16. You might not see any pattern to the weaving until you've made a few passes. Depending on the weight of your yarn, do about six passes (three passes back and forth) with each color of your rainbow.
17. If working with small children, do not worry that they follow the pattern exactly. Just have them pass the yarn back and forth between the strings to weave the yarn across the loom. Their resulting rainbow might not look like the sample, but they will create a multi-colored rainbow.
18. When you are done weaving with your first color, punch a hole at the end of the row you are on. Try to place this hole behind one of the strings. Pass your yarn end through the hole to the back of your plate and tie the end in a knot against the back of the plate. You can cover the knot with a piece of tape to secure it.
19. Begin your next color. Tie a knot at the end of your new piece of yarn. Working from the back, you can pass this new yarn through the hole you just made to end your last color.
20. Follow Steps 12 - 15 to weave with your new color.
21. As you continue to weave and add new colors, you will see a pattern appear. Each new row of weaving should press down and condense the lower rows together.
22. You can end and add new colors on whichever end that you need.
23. You can weave more or less rows of each color depending on how much yarn you have.
24. Try to weave your rainbow as close to the edge of the rim of your plate as possible.
25. When you are done weaving your rainbow, punch a hole at the end of your last row. Pull your yarn through the hole to the back of the plate. Then tie a knot in your yarn against the back of the plate.
Finishing Your Woven Rainbow
26. (Optional) Spread some white glue along the bottom edge of your rainbow and use cotton balls or fiber fill to add some fluffy clouds (see photo above). Let dry completely.
27. If you want to hang your rainbow, punch a hole in the center of the rim of your plate. Tie a loop of yarn through the hole for hanging.
© 2020 Donna Herron
Donna Herron (author) from USA on May 28, 2020:
Thanks Heidi! I'm grateful to HubPages for sharing this project. Hope you are staying healthy and taking care of yourself!
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on May 28, 2020:
I don't know if you saw it yet. But congrats on this tutorial being featured on HubPages Weekly email newsletter! Thanks for always sharing your joyful projects and talents. Stay safe and well!
Donna Herron (author) from USA on May 03, 2020:
Hi Deanna - You're lucky to still be teaching classes at this time. I hope they enjoy this project!
Deanna Gibbs on May 02, 2020:
Just started this project with older kids. I haven't met the all the kids yet or learned all their names in my art room. I just been observing their interactions with each other so I know who to pair up when I hand out materials. I hope we have enough yarn to get started tomorrow. Our next project will be making rainbow bracelets. It's a great outdoor activity for them.