Last November I read about light tables on Caution: Twins at Play and I immediately wanted to make one. Unfortunately we had recently downsized and I couldn’t afford the space for a large light-play fixture so I had to settle for something smaller. I made this for my children back in December:
It may not be the fanciest option but it fit our home and our budget. Luckily children don’t have the ability to go online and see all the nicer options so they think its just grand.
All I did was take a plastic bin (the same type we use for our sensory bins) and line the inside of the bottom with the white plastic from a store baggie. You could also use wax paper but, being the middle of December, I had used all my wax paper for baking and decided to substitute.
Then I cut a piece of cardboard to fit inside the bin, a few inches from the bottom. I covered the cardboard with aluminum foil then used packaging tape to secure it. I laid a string of plain white Christmas light on top of the cardboard piece and used a few more pieces of clear packaging tape to to secure it in a few spots to prevent shifting around. Don’t place tape directly on the lights but rather onto the wire between the lights.
I put the cardboard piece with the lights into the bin and taped it into place. I put the lid on, pinching the cord between the bin and the lid, flipped the whole thing over, plugged it in and viola! Done.
Add a few translucent toys and you’re good to go.
The vast majority of our translucent toys are $1 or less from the party supply aisle of Walmart, Dollar Tree, and Party City.
We use plastic and glass gems, beads, table scatter, cocktail charms, decorative drink stirs, cupcake sprinkle stencils, shot glasses, stacking chairs toy, reusable ice cubes, rulers, snack plates, toppers from glow in the dark wands, toddler links, and even part of an old broken Boggle game we had laying around.
At first we kept the light table in the closet and only brought it down a couple times a week but the kids kept asking for it and resisting when it was time to put it away so we made some slight changes to the layout of our home and made room for it to sit out at all times, ready for play.
Another light play activity that has been a roaring success was our light cave.
Its just a large cardboard box that the kids could fit inside, holes cut into the top, and lights from a string of Christmas lights were pushed through the holes.
We had this out for almost a week before we convinced the kids to let us collapse the box and take the lights out. SunnyGirl loved it so much she even tried to nap inside.
Both light play activities were an opportunity to talk about light, where it comes from, how it works, etc.. The light table has too been useful for color exploration. Also, if you sprinkle some sand or shaving cream on top, it makes a lovely writing tray.by