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Rainbow hues are no joke

Food comes in every color of the rainbow. Not only do the natural colors tempt our taste buds, but they also welcome an exciting world of sensory discovery for eager toddlers and preschoolers. Here are two creative ideas for everyday learning and for special eating on April Fools' Day!

Rainbow Foods

When you unpack groceries, arrange food items on the kitchen table to represent the spectrum of the rainbow. Your food arc might begin with red apples and continue with orange sweet peppers, yellow squash, green spinach, blueberries and a purple eggplant. Add more fruits and vegetables for hues of color in between, then have fun naming your own colors, such as "raspberry-parfait pink." As you put the produce away, describe the textures of the foods in your hands, then name their shapes.

Upside-down rainbow milkshake

At snack time on April Fools' Day, prepare this shake together. Don't worry, you don't have to be upside-down to drink it!

For each serving, you'll need a tall see-through glass, such as a parfait glass. At the base of the glass, place a strawberry, cherry or other red fruit you would normally use to top a milkshake. Now, put your favorite round, yellow-colored cookie in the glass horizontally above the fruit as a divider. A thin round slice of an orange also works well. Be sure it fits snugly. Add some green-tinted whipped cream on top of the cookie, then fill the rest of the glass with a blueberry-colored milkshake or smoothie you prepare in the blender. Serve immediately before the cookie gets soggy and lets the milkshake through.

Bottoms up! Or maybe I should say, "Bottoms down"?

Parenting Tip: Rainbow place mats are a colorful addition to springtime snacking. For each place mat, draw a rainbow on construction paper using washable markers. Dip a clean paintbrush in water and swipe it over the rainbow. Immediately the colors, which were once distinct, will meld into one another like magic, creating lovely hues.

Write Donna with your questions and ideas at Donna's newly released book, "Donna Erickson's Fabulous Funstuff for Families," is now available in bookstores nationwide. © Donna Erickson