12 Dathan

Sheena Geiger

Activity Summary

This lesson focuses on teaching basic colours of the rainbow using an interactive children’s song.

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • Learn new  vocabulary using the basic colours of the rainbow;
  • Improve their aural comprehension of Gaelic;
  • Improve their spoken Gaelic;
  • Enhance their memory skills.

Gaelic Level

This lesson was primarily created for beginner Gaelic learners. It is best suited for children, youth, and adults who don’t mind learning through interactive songs.

Lesson Preparation

No preparation required for the students.

The instructor will need to:

  1. Print out vocabulary boards.
  2. Print off a blank vocabulary sheet and answer key for each student and for the teacher, respectively.
  3. Print off blank colouring page for each student, and an answer key for the teacher.
  4. Print off an evaluation grid for each student (if evaluating).
  5. Bring in a variety of coloured scarves.
  6. Load the YouTube videos in a browser ahead of time so that they have time to buffer.
  7. Have a computer (laptop is fine) with loud speakers and power cords, hooked up to a projector to project onto a white screen or wall.

Resources Required

Required resources:

  • YouTube videos of the Gaelic song and movements;
  • Blank lyrics sheet and answer key;
  • Vocabulary boards to hang up;
  • A quiet space where playing music aloud on speakers won’t disrupt others.
  • Coloured scarves

Optional resources:

  • Prism, glass, or diamond ring to show rainbow colours
  • Colourful photos to review vocabulary
  • Blank rainbow vocabulary sheet and answer key
  • Evaluation grid (if you plan on evaluating student comprehension)
  • Coloured pencils, markers, crayons
  • Flip charts or flip chart paper and flip chart markers or white boards with white board markers; SmartBoard, or overhead projector with markers.
  • Extension cords and power bars (to ensure that the teacher’s laptop will not run out of power)
  • High-quality sound speakers

Lesson Structure ( 65 minutes)




15 min



What the weather is like today? What do you get when you mix both rain and sunshine? (A rainbow.)


Explain that today we are going to learn our basic colours in Gaelic.


Option 1: Shine a prism, glass, or diamond ring in the sunlight and watch a rainbow appear. Ask students to name the colours in English, then translate the colours into Gaelic with a partner.

Option 2: Show a YouTube video of a prism in the sunlight separating the colours of a rainbow (note that this video is in English).

Option 3: Show a YouTube video of rainbows from rain and sunlight, or rainbows from waterfall sprays and sunlight.

Option 4: Show a poster of a rainbow, and ask students to name the colours in English.

Ask students to write down the colours of the rainbow in English on their rainbow vocabulary sheet, then work as a pair to translate them into Gaelic, either from prior knowledge or by using a physical or online dictionary.

YouTube video showing a prism refracting light (in English)

Videos of rainbows formed by rain and sunlight and by waterfall sprays (no language)

Poster of a rainbow

Rainbow vocabulary sheet

Am Faclair Beag – Scottish Gaelic Dictionary

40 min


Read through pre-made language boards and pronounce each colour. Mix up the order so that it is different from the song. Pronunciation can be found here.

  • Red = Dearg  
  • Orange = Orains
  • Yellow =  Buidhe 
  • Green = Uaine 
  • Blue = Gorm
  • Violet = Purpaidh 
  • Pink = Pinc

Listen to the song on YouTube a few times each while filling in the lyrics sheet. then sing together as a group:

Give each student a different coloured scarf. Have students lift their colour when they hear or sing their colour in the song. Speed up the song, and slow it down to make it fun and interactive. Switch colours with a partner then repeat the activity. Time permitting, give students two different colours.

Advanced option: Give students one of each colour and have them lift each colour when they hear or sing it in the song.


Buidhe, uaine, dearg agus pinc,
Purpaidh is orains is gorm,
Dathan aig a’ bhogha-fhroise, aig a’ bhogha-fhroise, aig a’ bhogha-fhroise bhrèagha.

Red and yellow and pink and green,
purple and orange and blue.
I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow too.

Language boards

Gaelic-medium video of colours

Lyrics sheet


Nova Scotia version
Scotland version

20 min

Optional Evaluation:

Ask for student volunteers to point to a specific colour on the website (e.g., “find dearg”) or have students be the teacher and they quiz the group about each colour. Then they tap the SmartBoard or laptop for the pronunciation and written word, and have the rest of the class repeat after them.

Gaelic colours assessment webpage

20 mins

Optional Post-Activity:

Using markers, paint, crayons, or materials from outside (leaves, flowers, etc., depending on the season), create a rainbow then label the colours (see attached example).

Have students complete the self-evaluation grid, to see if they need additional practice with the pronunciation and recognition of colours.

Rainbow colouring page

Self-evaluation grid


  1. You could have the students use headphone splitters to allow pairs or small groups to work together to fill in the blanks in the song lyrics using their new vocabulary.
  2. You could have one laptop per student, with headphones, to allow individuals to listen and re-listen to the recordings as many times as needed to fill in the blanks of the song.
  3. Instead of giving the students the lyrics, you could have the advanced students transcribe the entire song.
  4. Depending on the age and physical abilities of your students, you could have them dance along with the song. You could sing it slow, medium, and as fast as possible to make it fun and interactive for students, while having them focus on proper pronunciation. You could make it into a friendly group competition to see who performs it the best, so that students take the time to focus on both their pronunciation and corresponding colours – then they vote on the best performers.
  5. You could have students go home and record themselves teaching the song to their siblings, friends, neighbours, elders, etc.
  6. You could have advanced students substitute out the basic colours for more complex ones that are not included in the song, then teach each other, while still using the basic structure of the song.
  7. You could have students use paints, and mix the paints to create new colours. E.g. yellow + blue = green. Then have students label their new colours.
  8. You could have students play a game to sort the scarves or place children in rainbow order.
  9. You could have students write other lyrics to this song. e.g. Dathan air a’ bhòrd mhòr, air a’ bhòrd mhòr, nuair a tha e làn leis a’ bhiadh.

Another variation could be to go over colours and look at them through a traditional Gaelic lens. Discuss how they are similar or different from colour terms in English (e.g., both ruadh and dearg are translated as “red,” but their qualities differ). The following list comes from Ronald Black’s Cothrom Ionnsachaidh (2006, 94-95):

    1. Dubh: black, black-haired
    2. Ciar: dusky, dark grey or brown, tanned skin or hide
    3. Riabhach: brindled, streaked with dark shades (skin, hide, rocks)
    4. Cròn: dark brown, dark-skinned
    5. Donn: brown, brown-haired
    6. Ruadh: orange, red-haired, deep yellow through orange to russet spectrum (covers sand, brown bread, brown paper, roe deer, carrots, fox)
    7. Dearg: red, the colour of blood and fire, complexion, skin and hide, colour spectrum from pink to purple
    8. Lachdann: tawny, mottled, dark and blotchy, skin and hide
    9. Odhar: the colour of parchment and porridge, skin and hide
    10. Fionn: fair, cream-coloured
    11. Buidhe: yellow, yellow-haired girls, colour spectrum between ruadh and fair, oranges
    12. Uaine: green, yellow-green, colour spectrum between glas and gorm
    13. Glas: grey, ashen, pale, young shoots of grass
    14. Gorm: blue, emerald, healthy grass, glossy black-blue (sheep, porpoises, skin colour)
    15. Liath: silver-grey (hair, frost), pale-light blue (sea, sky)
    16. Grìs: grey
    17. Bàn: white, fair-haired, empty
    18. Geal: white, bright, brilliant, silver
    19. Breac: speckled, dappled

Dealing with Challenges

You may wish to prepare for any of the following potential challenges:

  • Technical issues, whether due to equipment failure, power outage, or students’ lack of familiarity with YouTube;
  • Load the YouTube videos ahead of time in separate browsers so that they both have time to buffer. You can load the videos for offline viewing if you won’t have access to Wifi when teaching. 
  • Student frustration if the song seems too young for them to learn from, or because translations aren’t always literal.

About the Author

Sheena Geiger is a certified K-12 teacher, focusing primarily on French Immersion, Math, and Science. As the Head of the Foreign Languages Department at a private school, she developed curriculum for multiple grade levels and languages. She enjoys traveling the world, singing, dancing, scuba diving and writing children’s books in Gaelic, French and English. Sheena also has a YouTube channel (TeacherMommy12345)  that focuses on Gaelic and French children’s songs as well as kid-friendly educational videos about marine biology and zoology.


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Cànan tro Òrain by Sheena Geiger is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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