A Heart Suncatcher with Mosaic Tiles from the Light Table

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Make Heart Suncatchers with Light Table Mosaic Tiles -- A fun Valentine's Day activity for kids!I set up a quick version of a DIY light table about a month ago (after years of saying I would make one) and it has been absolutely wonderful during these past few weeks of snow days and illness. The kids have gravitated toward it again and again.

The light table is simply a large clear plastic storage bin with a string of white Christmas lights inside. It’s the easiest and cheapest light table possible, yet the kids would call it Fun with a capital “F” and I would call it a sanity saver.

Most recently Maia and Daphne made heart suncatchers with some of our translucent mosaic tiles. They are really quite gorgeous!

What began as a mosaic design and symmetry activity on the light table became lovely heart suncatchers when we sandwiched the lightweight tiles between sheets of contact paper.

Here are some photos of the process from light table to suncatcher:

Heart Patterns and Suncatchers on the DIY Light Table

Maia and Daphne had used the mosaic tiles on the light table before, but had gotten frustrated when a small bump would move the tiles out of their carefully laid designs.

So this time I taped some transparent contact paper face up on the light table, thinking they could create their designs as before but that the sticky plastic would hold the tiles where they wanted them. I knew it would still be easy to pick the tiles back up and move them around as their ideas and design changed form.

But, on a whim, I drew heart outlines on the contact paper rather than leaving it plain as I had initially planned.

Heart Suncatchers 13

They woke up recently to to this invitation on the light table—the contact paper with heart outlines and an assortment of the translucent mosaic tiles—and dove right in.

Heart Suncatchers 16

As you can see, our “light table” is one of those under the bed storage bins with wheels. I picked it up at Target for $14.99. The string of white lights was purchased on clearance after Christmas and works well to light the table. The cord is thin enough that I can close the lid over it securely as it snakes out the top to plug into a nearby outlet.

Heart Suncatchers 21

Maia made symmetrical designs on her heart with the colorful tiles. Daphne mostly picked out her favorite colors to fill her heart.

When I saw how pretty they were on the light table, I asked the girls if they wanted to try them in the window as suncatchers. Maia declined, wanting to pull her tiles off and make more designs instead, but Daphne was enthusiastic about the idea.

Heart Suncatchers 27

I helped her add another layer of the contact paper over the top to sandwich the mosaic tiles in between two sheets of the sticky plastic. Then we admired the heart in the window with the light shining through it.

She was totally fine with it as it was, but I thought it might be nice if we cut off the extra contact paper from around the heart and she was game.

Heart Suncatchers 28

I drew a larger heart around the first, creating about an inch-wide margin of the contact paper (to hold the tiles securely in place), then let her go at it with scissors.

Heart Suncatchers 30

We added a border with purple washi tape, Daphne cutting the pieces, and I helping to wrap them around the heart’s tricky curves.

Heart Suncatcher Made with Mosaic Tiles from the Light Table

Then Daphne punched a hole at the top of the heart with a paper punch, we looped a pink ribbon through, and Daphne hung up her new suncatcher.

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It worked so well!

Heart Suncatchers 40

The colorful mosaic tiles really glow in the light!

Once Valentine’s Day has passed, we’ll likely dismantle this suncatcher and return the tiles to the light table. But for now, we’re loving how it looks in the window!

A note about the tiles:

I bought our mosaic tiles from Discount School Supply. When I started writing this post about the suncatchers, I thought I’d be able to say that you can get these sorts of translucent plastic tiles anywhere—even the dollar store. But I haven’t seen them in the stores and haven’t been able to find any in my online searches. Does anyone know where you can get something like this? I recommend the DSS tiles without reservation, but was hoping to give you another option in case you didn’t want to order online. (I know you can get glass tiles and gems at craft stores and they are great for the light table, but would likely be too heavy and bulky for a contact paper suncatcher.)

Do you have a light table?

Either a real one or a DIY version? If so, I’d love to hear your favorite materials or activities for it! We’ve tried a few things so far—maybe I’ll share in a post tomorrow—but we’re still new to this and looking for ideas.

This post contains affiliate links.

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  1. says

    Looks like a lot of fun. We’re having a kid in 5 months. I know it won’t be able to do this from the start, but I enjoy reading your page to help me look forward to everything I will be able to do.
    There’s lots of science enrichment you can do here too. You can talk about color blending, because that’s different with light than with paint. You’d need some gel filters, or tissue paper might work. Or maybe colored plastic wrap? In any case, the light mixes differently because light transmission through filters only lets that one color go through the filter, so you don’t have blue wavelengths anymore once you’ve gone through a red filter. I’m pretty sure (it’s been awhile since I’ve done this) that you can’t get to purple if you put a blue filter over a red filter. Worth trying out!

  2. Lyn Zalk says

    MY friend built a light box from 1×4 attaching lucite across the top…. and mounting from underneath a small under the counter type florescent fixture….. the bottom remains open with a small noticed out area for the cord to settle into.

  3. says

    Thanks for the ideas, Leah! Where do you get gel filters? I have some colored film paper that may be similar and that I’m looking forward to trying on the light table. I like the idea of playing with color blending in this way.

  4. Laura says

    Your light table idea is awesome, and we have been playing all afternoon. Good thing I STILL haven’t put my Christmas stuff up in the attic. And fortunate that I have a clear under-bed storage container that was easy to empty. Without mosaic tiles, we used tissue paper to make a simple suncatcher, and then we played with some dry alphabet noodles. Thank you!

  5. Whitney says

    Some teacher/school supply stores sell little discs like this. They are often with manipulatives or as counters in the math section. I have some for my Pre-K classroom that are also magnetic (small metal outline around each circle) which adds another dimension. Those are fun to play with using magnet wands. I also have plastic colored squares with a small handle (like a flat magnifying glass but it doesn’t magnify) that are fun and act just like the tiles but they cover a larger surface. Mine are about 2-3″ square. Sorry that I don’t know where those are from.
    I have a similar DIY light box at home and my girls love playing with magna tiles on light. They are available through DSS but I got mine through Amazon for less.
    Thanks for the ideas!

  6. says

    I’m not sure where to buy them, honestly. I had them in my classroom. You could try a camera store, actually, as there’s all sorts of filters used there. Theatre supply places would have them, and science supply stores might too.
    These are pricy but could be fun. This is the basic idea: http://www.adorama.com/ROCEK.html?gclid=COHTvL_Ts7wCFfFDMgodnQcAHQ
    These would work too: http://www.amazon.com/Rosco-Strobist-Collection-1-5×3-25-Strobes/dp/B002SWIOOM/ref=pd_sim_sbs_p_4

  7. Darah says

    Does your box have a totally flat lid? I keep looking at them to make a light box, but it seems like I can only find ones with bumpy lids. But maybe that wouldn’t bother my kids like it would bother me!

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