Monday, September 22, 2014

Light Table Play: How to Get Started

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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


Other Ideas You'll Love

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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2 comments:

  1. It is amazing. Never thought there are so many plays of light box. http://amzn.to/1t79ev4

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Huion CN! Yes, there are certainly many ways to play and learn with it!

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