Tools and Toys for Light Exploration -- Creativity on the Light Table

Light Table Toys and Tools

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Tools and Toys for Light Exploration -- And for  Inspiring Creativity on the Light TableAt the end of my post yesterday about the heart suncatchers, I promised to share what else we’ve done so far with the light table.

Thank you first though for your ideas for light table play, both in the blog comments and on facebook! I can’t wait to give those a try with my kids!

As I mentioned yesterday, our light table is a super easy DIY version (a clear plastic storage box with white Christmas lights!), and we’ve only had it for about a month.

That said, here’s what we’ve tried so far:

Note: When I finally decided to make the light table, I placed an order with Discount School Supply for some things I thought would be fun to try on the light table, so these items are all from there, although some you might be able to find elsewhere.

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Light Table Toys and Tools

Letters for the Light Table 7

Letter Jewels :: Good for letter recognition, writing names, and little notes. I liked these more than my kids did.

Building Brilliance Magnetic Tiles 02

Building Brilliance Magnetic Shapes :: We love, love, LOVE these! I have about 10 blog posts-worth to share with you about the fun ways my kids have found to use them on and off the light table. I’ll try to condense it down to just a couple, for your sake. :) While I purchased the rest of the items on this list, Discount School Supply sent me these for free to try out and review (at my request).

Animal X-Rays for the Light TableAnimal X-Rays :: Cool to look at once or twice, but I probably wouldn’t spend the money on them unless I were a teacher. Maia’s into this sort of thing and enjoyed studying the X-rays, but said that they were easier to see on a plain surface than on the light table.

I think a library book with animal X-rays would be plenty for our family and am going to see if our library has Amazing X-Rays: Wild Animals by Jacqueline A. Ball.

I’ll probably offer this x-ray set I bought to one of my daughters’ teachers…

Mag Chips and Mag Wand 2

Mag Chips and a Mag-Wand :: These are great for magnetic play on or off the light table. My kids and their friends had fun playing with them (seeing who could get the most mag chips, seeing if their wand could “steal” mag chips from another person’s, etc). The mag chips seem fairly one-dimensional in terms of what you can do with them, but they are inexpensive and, I think, worth trying. The magnetic wands are definitely worth having! We’ve had one for a few years and it’s gotten used on and off for all sorts of things.

Prism BricksPrism Bricks (translucent legos) :: I was so excited about these and thought Maia and Daphne would love them. The girls go through lego-building phases off and on and I figured these might be a good addition to the set that was handed down to us from friends a few years ago.

However, while these translucent legos look great, my kids got frustrated with them quickly, saying they didn’t stick together well the way their other legos did.

Oh well.

Translucent Mosaic Tiles on the Light Table 2

Plus the Translucent Mosaic Tiles, of course :: We love these tiles! They are great for making designs with on the light table and also, as I posted about yesterday, for making suncatchers.

Any light table toys or tools you would add to this list? Either products or ideas to try out on the table? Or those you’ve tried but would recommend others take a pass on?

This post contains affiliate links.

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    noreen
    February 5, 2014 at 8:44 am

    Teacher’s supply stores will also sell a set of their math manipulatives that are made for an overhead projector (essentially, a light box). I have had algeblocks (rectangles and squares of different sizes/colors) and tangrams overhead sets in my classroom. I wish I still had them!

  • Reply
    Courtney
    February 5, 2014 at 9:52 am

    We discovered this easy DIY style light table a few years back and my kids love it! One of their favorites is the rainbow water building blocks. They love how they can mix colors by layering them. The colors are so pure they work really well for this. They are also nice to build with on a sunny windowsill when we don’t have the table out. We have used bingo counters and cut up some clear 3 ring binder dividers into shapes and even stickers with real pressed flowers in them. Magna tiles are on our wish list and the X-rays too! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    February 5, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Ooh! I’ll have to see if I can find some! I’ve never walked into a teacher’s supply store… I guess this’ll be as good an excuse as any!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    February 5, 2014 at 10:09 am

    I wish I had made one of these light tables years ago! So easy and yet so great. Thanks for the recommendation for the rainbow water building blocks. I’ve seen them but thought they were perhaps overpriced and that you might not get a lot of mileage out of them. Sounds like I’m wrong?

  • Reply
    Meg Longest
    February 5, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    One of my all time favs is to print pictures of your kiddos or students onto transparencies. The absolutely LOVE manipulating them and looking at them. They are fun on windows, too.
    Another great idea for transparencies is to put them on the light table with dry-erase markers. So much fun, and you can reuse them!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    February 5, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Ooh! I love that idea, Meg! How do you print onto transparencies? Will a regular home printer work?

  • Reply
    rachel
    February 6, 2014 at 7:26 am

    floral stones, crystals & geodes are fun on a light table, too!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    February 6, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Great idea, Rachel! THanks!

  • Reply
    Ann
    February 6, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    We love our DIY light table. The ones I could find for sale were so expensive and the DIY version has been great! We have transparent tangrams and circle counters that we play with.
    An awesome (but kind of messy) idea that my kids LOVED was tracing letters/pictures in salt. You just pour a thin layer on the light table and it looks so cool as the light shines through where you trace. I also sorted out the translucent buttons from a big tub of buttons I got from DSS. These are fun to play with on there, too.

  • Reply
    Rachel
    February 7, 2014 at 8:03 am

    can you get these things in the UK too? (like the magnetic shapes)

  • Reply
    Julie Daniel
    February 7, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    I found some of these things on Ebay and Amazon (I searched for transparent tiles and counters). A UK company called Learning Resources also have a lot of transparent/translucent stuff like the counters/tiles/alphabet/3D shapes.

  • Reply
    Lisa
    February 7, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    We have recently been having fun with sea glass and pattern blocks. I picked up pattern blocks and transparent counters (circles and squares) from here: http://www.assessmentservices-edu.com/ (relatively inexpensive).
    We also have random items from the grocery store (transparent plastic stirrers and shot glasses) and the magnatiles are always a hit on the light table. We are starting to experiment with kite paper and cellophane shapes also.
    After eyeing the table top light table on DSS for years, we finally bought it when there was a good coupon code available. It’s still pretty expensive though–I am trying to tell myself that I can sell it when the kids are done with it. My DIY version just didn’t give off enough light.
    We have the same letters too and the older one (now 6) doesn’t care a bit about them. My younger one however, makes up stories with the letters (the letters are characters). That kind of play happens a lot–it may have started after reading Leo Lionni’s Little Blue and Little Yellow. In general, my younger kid (preschool aged) uses the light table more.
    On my list to try is painting on the light table–lots of ideas are on Pinterest.
    Thanks for the post!

  • Reply
    Karetchko
    February 18, 2014 at 9:33 am

    I bought some vellum paper and made tangrams with it. Using 2 different colors (like red and yellow) worked well! Vellum isn’t completely clear but it works fairly well on the light table and it’s very easy to cut into whatever shapes you might want.

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      February 18, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      What a great idea! So you just cut it into a variety of geometric shapes?

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    February 25, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Thanks for the light table idea! We put this together last night and my 2 1/4 twins spent over an hour with it with their dad. They used their Crayola window markers on it. My husband says the effect of the markers wasn’t so spectacular but obviously the kids really liked it. I’m going to order some mosaic tiles and letter jellies – thanks again!

  • Reply
    Karry
    September 11, 2014 at 1:09 am

    I do not evdn know how I endedd up here, but I thought tjis
    post was good. I do not know who youu are but
    definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if yoou are not already ;) Cheers!

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