The large, 12 piece Rainbow Wooden Stacking Tunnel from our friends at Grimm's Spiel & Holz is a well loved Waldorf staple, for very good reason. It is a classic open ended toy that can be used in as many ways as a child can dream up. It does not come with instructions, but is instead incredibly versatile and open-ended. Grimm's has been expertly crafting these rainbows for 40 years, and they've expanded on the classic rainbow colorway with many different sizes and color schemes.
This month, we are celebrating rainbows for all the beauty they represent, and we had to include this all time favorite wooden toy. Read on to find out 10 ways to play with the Grimm's Rainbow (even though we could easily list another 60, but we'll keep it at 10 to start!)
There are endless creative ways to stack this rainbow. Start with the basics to get a feel for how they balance, then move on to creating more complex, creative stacks. Encourage your child to explore what they can do, give them freedom to try something, fail, try again, fail again. Try your best to not interuppt this to give tips. I know from much personal experience this is difficult, but when you explain it for them, they lose the ability to figure it out on their own through trial and error. This process goes a long way in helping them learn to navigate their frustration, and helps them see the pay off of continuing to try new things.
A simple, but fun game to play is to challenge children to find everything they can to match the colors of the rainbow. Lay the arches out with space to fill in and then let them run! This is beneficial for toddlers and preschoolers because it helps them identify and name colors, and as they grow older, it stays fun in trying to find obscure pieces to match. You could even add a chanllenge and give specific ground rules such as "find color matches that are all animals" or other broad categories.
Create tracks that wooden balls and marbles can travel down. Ball runs are a wonderful introduction to basic physics properties like motion, direction, gravity, and force for children. One way to make a ball run is by flipping the Rainbow Stacker pieces upside down with the open bottoms facing up. Take Wooden Building boards and place them within the two sides of an upside down rainbow. Repeat with each smaller rainbow piece. This will create a descending stairyway of sorts. When you add the small or large wooden balls, children will delight in the sounds of them bouncing off the boards, seeing which balls roll the fastest, and experimenting with how to make the balls fall faster.
Try all sorts of ways to balance the rainbow. Maybe you stack them with smaller pieces on the bottom under the larger ones and see if you can keep them balanced and staying standing. Use Wooden Building Boards and try balancing them in between two inversed rainbow pieces. You can add peg friends to the building board for an extra challenge, don't make it too heavy on one side or the whole stack will roll over!
Build Houses And Hotels
There are many different ways to create houses with the Rainbow Stacking Tunnels. You can simply lay each piece on it's side to make circular enclosed buildings, or any type of shape you'd like. It's a simple method children often use to build animal sanctuaries or zoos. Another option that is always a hit with children is laying the largest rainbow stacker on it's side on the floor and using the Wooden Semi-Circle Building Set blocks on top to create a roof/floor for the next layer. Add the smaller stacker pieces on top from largest to smallest with a semi-circle in between each level. Then you have what look like apartments or hotels, or with a bit more building can be majestic castles!
Create Tunnels For Cars & Trains
These stackers make excellent tunnels when you push the smaller size ones out from under the larger in descending size order. Young children love to see their cars or trains dissapear as they travels underneath. You can add wooden train tracks or roads, even the Wooden Building Boards can make great roads.
What sort of things can you envision in these rainbows? There are so many different things you can create! Try animals like a bear, frog, crab, butterfly, anything you can dream up. You can create them flat or stacked vertically for an extra challenge.
Make A Cake
For this build, add a the Wooden Semi-Circle Building Set to the rainbow. Lay the largest rainbow on it's side on the ground, place the matching semi-cirlce on top of it. Repeat this process through all of the stacker pieces from largest to smallest. Now you can use loose parts or whatever you have to add "sprinkles" or decorations to your cake. The Rainbow Forest Building Set make perfect candles on top of these cakes. For the cake pictured here, the Wooden Counting Rainbow is used with the Rainbow Wooden Semi-Circle set.
Make A Chain ReactionThis stack is one that creates some action. Place the center of the rainbow on the floor then stack the next largest rainbow piece with one side on the center piece and the other side on the floor. Go to the opposite side and repeat with the next largest rainbow. Create a stack that alternates from one side to the other all the way until you reach the largest pieces. Make sure to get the sides of the rainbows that are on the floor to be as close as you can to the center of the stack. Once you've addest the largest rainbow piece, pull out the very bottom violet semi-circle block and watch in wonder as the rainbow stacks itself in order again!
Rainbows are a beautiful part of the natural world, just as the rounded shape of the Grimm's Rainbow is seen often in nature. Use the rainbows to create hilly landscapes, large mountains, waterfalls, or anything you can see them becoming. A simple favorite is to push the smallest pieces out from under the larger, as we did to create the tunnels, except instead of leaving both ends open, you push this all the way out to the smallest piece. Then you have a hill that slowly grows higher. Use the Meadow or Forest green Rainbows for a natural, grassy hill look.
We are proud to be one of Grimm's Wooden Toys retailers here in the United States, and getting to share their lovely open ended toys with you. These Rainbows are the truly quientessential Waldorf toy - they are made of natural wood with natural stains, with the charachter of the wood still shining through the colors. Children can see the story in the lines left from the tree's rings. They can smell the natural scent of the lime wood. These are engaging to their hands, heads, and hearts.