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Our light table

One of the fun things that we did lately was get a light table. This was based on the recommendation of play-at-home mom that has done so many awesome blog post on great activities with a light table.  After seeing all their photos I knew we had to have one. And I found a cheap used one on craiglist (only$40! Score). Typically you will find light tables in children’s museums and they sell for hundreds of dollars. I found a commercial printing company that was going out of business  and was liquidating their furniture and supplies. This table was originally at counter height so we had to trim it down to toddler size and I painted it and put new legs with casters on it. Not it’s not only a light table but also serves as a game table, a train table and right now it’s hosting our plan city.  Shining light though translucent objects adds a whole new dimension to play and the kids are very intrigued by it.

Talia examining color.


These translucent poker chips look beautiful!

I bought a set of 3 dimensional shapes and Simon and Talia are having a good time playing blocks with them with the added benefit of learning all the names of the various shapes (sphere, pyramid, cylinder etc.) These shapes are designed so that you can actually fill them with water to show that you can calculate the volume with math. What an awesome real world way to learn geometry! when Simon is old enough to understand V= 1/2 b xh I will definitely be showing him that his calculation is correct by having him fill the shapes with water then poor the water out and measure it.



We of course had to get some water beads. These are beads that are sold in the floral section of craft stores like Muchales and Jo-Annes. Water beads are polymer crystals., similar to contact lenses, only they are spheres. They feel amazing! I mean there is something about them that makes you want to just swim in them. Definitly fun to put your hands and arms down in them, to swish, scoop, and pour them.


and some little ones have a hard time not swishing them right out of the bin! These do require adult supervision with the little ones as Talia (who is a very mouthy kid) will periodically try and pop one in her mouth.


another really fun activity is our “playing with color” activity on the light table. I picked up an acrylic lipstick holder at the container store and Simon loves to mix colors in it on the light table. Here I gave him liquid water colors and allowed him to drop them onto instant snow. Which is not actaully snow it’s another polymer that is super water absorbent. It’s makes a fun snow-like substance. You can get some at Discount school supply.


and this just looks like one of those photos from a bio-tech lab website or something.

I highly recommend a light table – it’s been a lot of fun for us so far!


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  1. That looks like so much fun! What light table did you end up buying? Your’s looks huge! We have only seen small light boxes in our search around Seattle.

  2. I haven’t been by your blog in so long…but today I happened in. I think I originally learned about PAHM from you, maybe? Your light table looks awesome! We are on the verge of building one (plans made but no materials purchased…yet). I can’t wait to share this fun with West!

  3. Tracy

    Great post, thanks! Did you get the translucent blocks, discs and paddles at Discount School Supply? Any info on sources would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!