Rainbow Neighborhood

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – Communities, Countries Around The World, Science – Color Spectrum, Recycling

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Camilla Engman, Elements of Art – Color (Color Wheel), Shapes (Geometric), Texture (Visual), Medium – Collage, Origami


On a recent trip to Italy, I discovered the magical island town of Burano, located a short boat ride from Venice. Like Venice, it’s actually several islands held together by small bridges. One thing that makes this small fishing village so special is its bright colorful houses. Each family has their own special home color. Most houses have been the same color for generations. This town takes its rainbow image very seriously. Neighboring houses may not be the same color.  And, if a family wishes to change the color of their house, they must ask permission from the local government. In the past, the family boat was even painted to match the house. No one quite remembers why they started painting the houses this way. One theory is that the colorful buildings stood out from a distance, making it easier for the native fishermen to find their way home.

How about sharing the details of Burano as part of a communities or countries around the world unit? Begin with some maps and locate Europe, then Italy, then Venice and explain that Burano is near Venice. Preschool students can practice their color words by identifying the different house colors from photos of Burano.  As a nice science connection, review the colors of the rainbow and see how many of these colors the students can find in Burano photos.  As part of a math lesson, students could create their own rainbow houses from geometric shapes (squares, triangles, rectangles) as seen  below.

 Each student chooses their favorite house and roof color. Arrange and glue together the house and roof. Choose smaller scraps for windows and doors. Arrange and glue doors and windows. Add details with marker. The houses could then be glued onto a class community mural. Just be sure no two same color houses are next to one another! Houses could also be arranged in rainbow order.

For a recycle science unit, one could borrow inspiration from collage artist, Camilla Engman’s envelope communities. Simply save all your colorful birthday and holiday card envelopes instead of sending them to the recycle bin. Have students choose an envelope, add visual texture using markers, add cut paper windows and use the makers to add window details. For additional ideas for doors, windows and visual texture check out my Pinterest page here,

For older students, he/she could make envovotuts+’s origami house idea as found  here.


I hope this post has inspired you as much as Burano inspired me. What kinds of fun ways do you teach communities? I’d love to hear. Simply click on the post’s title and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

Thanks so much for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again real soon!