Light Table Play: How to Get Started

By on September 22, 2014 Be the first to comment!
I get asked a lot of questions about light tables. Everything from tips on getting started, how to build a light table, whether to buy or build, and where to get light table accessories, just to name a few. Many months ago I started writing an ebook on the topic, but it has been put on hold for awhile. I still plan to finish it, but in the meantime, I wanted to answer one of the most popular questions that I get asked about light table play.  It usually takes the form of, "So I have a light table. Now what do I do?" or "How do I introduce light table play to my kids?"

So here are my tips for getting started with light table play.

Tips on how to introduce light table play to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers {a guide to light table play} from And Next Comes L


Tip #1 for Introducing Light Table Play: Start Simple


I know I have posted some pretty elaborate light table activities here on my blog, but it doesn't have to be. Oftentimes, the simple ideas are the most captivating for my boys. And that's even after years of light table play! So stick to one or two items and let your kids explore at their own pace.

Here are a few simple light table invitations that you could try. Just click the image or the link below the image to read the full details.


Cookie cutters and glass stones on the light table from And Next Comes L


Creating art on the light table with pom poms from And Next Comes L


Plastic eggs & buttons on the light table from And Next Comes L


Sorting shapes on the light table from And Next Comes L


Washi tape art on the light table from And Next Comes L


Threading straws on the light table from And Next Comes L


Shower curtain rings & glass stones on the light table from And Next Comes L


Fine motor play on the light table with ice cube trays from And Next Comes L





Tip #2 for Introducing Light Table Play: Play Off of Your Child's Interests


The easiest way to introduce your child to light table play is to play off of their interests. Take what they already love and use that as inspiration for creating a light table invitation. So if your child is into dinosaurs, then set up a dinosaur small world. Or perhaps your child loves the color green. Then set out a variety of green objects on the light table.

Here are a couple of light table invitations that I set up based on my boys' interests at the time. Click the image or the link below the image to read the full details.

Storytelling on the light table from And Next Comes L


Bathtime inspired light table play from And Next Comes L



Tip #3 for Introducing Light Table Play: Join in and Play


Depending on your child's personality, you may need to help guide the play so join in and play! Ask open-ended questions, such as the following, to prompt their curiosity and guide their play:

  • What does the object look like on the light table?
  • How does the object change when on the light table?
  • What happens if you layer these two translucent items?

Literally show them how the light table works. Show them how two translucent items change color when layered, for instance. Or just play along because it's fun, like I did for this funny face building activity.

Making funny faces on the light table from And Next Comes L




Tip #4 for Introducing Light Table Play: Create an Inviting, Interesting Environment for Light Play


Set the mood for light table play! Here are my tips for creating an engaging light table area:

  • Put mirrors near the light table. Children love to interact with themselves in the mirror, so having them nearby may help entice them into playing on the light table. Mirrors can also be used to extend the play (see an example here). 
  • Have an on/off switch accessible, if possible. My youngest loves that he can control the light table all by himself. In fact, he turns it on every single time we go into our playroom, regardless of whether or not he actually plays on the light table. 
  • Turn off or dim the overhead lights. Darkening the room will help reduce environmental distractions, which is especially important if your child is sensitive to sensory input. 
  • Have light table toys and accessories accessible to little hands. Children are then free to choose what they want to bring to the light table on their own terms.
  • Put light table accessories in clear containers so that kids can see what's inside! Again, it enables them to choose what they want to bring to the light table.


Tip #5 for Introducing Light Table Play: Use an Old Favorite on the Light Table


Take their favorite toy or something they love, but haven't played with in awhile and put it on the light table. The light table always transforms objects and can bring new life to something old. For example, my youngest, K, was always putting cars on the light table, so I set out some extra materials to extend the play (see below).

Playing with cars on the light table from And Next Comes L


We love light table play and we're aiming to get more people addicted! If you have questions about light table play that you want answered, then contact me via email or leave a comment below. For more light table play information, check out these posts:

Why Light Table Play? from Still Playing School
Playing with Light from Rhythm of the Home

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Pinecone & Cinnamon Sensory Soup {Water Sensory Play}

By on September 17, 2014 Be the first to comment!
Water sensory play is always a favorite activity for my boys and we have certainly been enjoying our fair share of them in the past few weeks. In particular, we have been enjoying some fall inspired sensory soups, such as our apple sensory soup and fall leaves soup. Our most recent sensory soup combines natural elements (pinecones!) with the wonderful scent of cinnamon. Mmmm...

 Pinecone & cinnamon water sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

For this scented, pinecone water sensory bin, we used:

  • Pinecones - The same ones we used for this Reggio math tray.
  • Cinnamon
  • Water
  • Kitchen utensils - I added some plastic cups and bowls, a whisk, a ladle, and a large plastic spoon. Other items to consider adding: measuring cups, measuring spoons, or a funnel.

I know the water appears dirty, but I prefer to call it rustic. And when I showed my husband the pictures, he described it as "definitely fall colored." Ha!

Scented water sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers using pinecones and cinnamon from And Next Comes L

But look at the close up! Aren't the pinecones lovely?!

Close up of pinecones in a cinnamon scented water sensory bin for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

Close up of pinecones in a cinnamon scented water sensory bin for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

As with our other sensory soups, the boys loved scooping and pouring using the big spoon and ladle.

Scooping pinecones in a scented water sensory bin from And Next Comes L

Scooping pinecones in a scented water sensory bin from And Next Comes L

They also loved to mix up their concoction with the whisk.

Stirring up pinecones in a scented water sensory bin from And Next Comes L

And, of course, dumping the entire soup out so that they could make a new batch is extremely fun too!

Playing with pinecones in a scented water sensory bin from And Next Comes L

If that doesn't entice you, maybe this bowl of freshly prepared pinecone soup will do the trick. I decided to swap my camera lens to my new prime 50mm lens so that I could practice with it. I managed to capture this gorgeous photo. And I'm just a wee bit obsessed with how it turned out so please tell me it's awesome. Thanks.

Pinecones in a scented water sensory bin for toddlers and preschoolers from And Next Comes L

Be sure to try these other sensory soup ideas:


Scented water sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers using pinecones and cinnamon from And Next Comes L

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8 Simple & Colorful Sensory Activities for Babies & Toddlers

By on September 15, 2014 Be the first to comment!
I vaguely remember what having a toddler and a newborn was like. Hard to believe it was already three years ago! My boys generally play amazing together, but in case you need some help in the sibling bonding department, I'm here to hook you up! My friend Blayne from House of Burke recently had her second baby, so I'm sharing eight simple and colorful sensory activities that help promote sibling bonding. Each sensory activity uses three or fewer materials and most of the sensory bins can be reused again and again. How's that for simple? Click here to read the full post on House of Burke.

8 simple & colorful sensory activities that encourage siblings to bond. Only 1-3 materials are needed for each activity! from And Next Comes L & House of Burke

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Messy Pretend Play with Lemon Play Dough

By on September 10, 2014 2 Comments so far
Play dough is our go-to sensory activity for when I don't have any sensory activities planned or I need to keep the boys busy while cooking supper. That's why you will always find a bag of homemade play dough in our fridge. Recently I made lemon scented play dough, which ultimately led to this messy lemon meringue pie pretend play prompt.

Fine motor pretend play prompt for toddlers and preschoolers using lemon scented play dough and shaving cream from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

For this play dough invitation, I set out:

Playing with play dough, using the rolling pin, and whisking are all great for fine motor development. Plus, the boys get to play with real kitchen utensils. Not that kitchen utensils have ever been off limits for them.

J preferred to roll the play dough, while K commanded the whisk.


Fine motor skills with lemon scented play dough pretend play invitation from And Next Comes L

Fine motor skills with lemon scented play dough pretend play invitation from And Next Comes L

Fine motor pretend play prompt for toddlers and preschoolers using lemon scented play dough and shaving cream from And Next Comes L

Now let's check on the progress of that meringue...ah, a stiff peak! Good whisking, K!

Fine motor skills with lemon scented play dough pretend play invitation from And Next Comes L

Then just like regular baking in our house, things got messy quickly.

Messy sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers with lemon scented play dough and shaving cream from And Next Comes L

Messy sensory play for toddlers and preschoolers with lemon scented play dough and shaving cream from And Next Comes L

Messy sensory play with lemon scented play dough and shaving cream from And Next Comes L

No pie was ever made, but it was a lot of fun to play with!

Be sure to check out these other shaving cream ideas:


Messy sensory play for kids with lemon scented play dough from And Next Comes L

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Fall Leaves Math Tray

By on September 08, 2014 Be the first to comment!
We are all about math and numbers in my house. As a result, we do a lot of playful math activities with loose parts. Since the leaves are changing colors here, we have been in full fall mode. This no-prep math tray was the perfect way to explore counting, grouping, and color sorting. And clearly, little hands just couldn't wait to play!

Simple math play for kids with fall leaves from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

I set up a tray for both of the boys. Each tray consisted of 10 white shower curtain rings and 40 acrylic leaves (10 leaves in each of the four colors that I had). 

Simple math play for kids with fall leaves from And Next Comes L

J sorted his leaves by color first. He noted that there were 10 of each color and promptly told me there were 40 leaves altogether.

Sorting fall leaves by color from And Next Comes L

J then put out seven rings and practiced some grouping (and multiplying!). He put three leaves inside each of the shower curtain rings. "That's 21, mom!"

Fall math tray: practicing grouping with leaves from And Next Comes L

K also attempted some grouping.

Fall themed math tray for grouping and color sorting from And Next Comes L

Fall themed math tray for grouping and color sorting from And Next Comes L

And he did manage to successfully group his leaves into groups of two, as you can see him starting to do here.

Playful math for toddlers and preschoolers using fall leaves from And Next Comes L

How's that for simple, meaningful math?

Be sure to try these other fall activities too!


Simple playful math tray for kids with a fall theme that works on grouping and color sorting from And Next Comes L

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Fine Motor Light Table Play with Ice Cube Trays {Fine Motor Fridays}

By on September 04, 2014 2 Comments so far
When it comes to light table play, glass stones are a staple. We've used them so many times. Too many times to count. I also love that I can buy them at the dollar store. Another awesome light table accessory that you can find at the dollar store is an ice cube tray. Combine the two dollar store finds and you'll end up with a simple fine motor color sorting activity for on (or even off) the light table.

Fine motor light table play with ice cube trays from And Next Comes L

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

For this light table activity, we used translucent ice cube trays (pink, blue, and orange in color) and glass stones in corresponding colors (red, blue, and orange). I had also set out some tweezers and tongs, but neither of my boys wanted to use them. Instead, they used their fingers to sort the glass stones by color.

Fine motor light table play with ice cube trays from And Next Comes L

Close up of ice cube trays on the light table from And Next Comes L

Close up of ice cube trays on the light table from And Next Comes L

This activity also encourages working on one-to-one correspondence by putting one stone into each spot in the ice cube tray.

Fine motor color sorting on the light table using ice cube trays from And Next Comes L

J also did some grouping. He liked to put two stones into a spot, then three, four, etc.

Fine motor color sorting on the light table using ice cube trays from And Next Comes L

Light table activity using dollar store ice cube trays for fine motor practice from And Next Comes L

The boys also enjoyed dumping out all of the glass stones and flipping the ice cube trays upside down. These particular ice cube trays looked like buttons when upside down. So the boys spent some time pressing the "buttons" and counting. Don't they look cool?

Ice cube trays on the light table from And Next Comes L

PS: This activity was the first activity that I shot in manual mode with my camera. I'm pretty proud of how the photos turned out!

If you're looking for more fine motor fun, be sure to check the others posts in this week's Fine Motor Fridays series.

Fine Motor Fall Acorn Sensory Play from Little Bins for Little Hands
Easy Fall Tree Activity from Powerful Mothering
Fine Motor Fall Leaves Sorting from Still Playing School

Fine Motor Fridays at And Next Comes L

Fine motor light table play using items found in the dollar store from And Next Comes L

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