We've had our eye on a light table for quite some time. It's a simple design but, once again, often overpriced! The concept seemed so fun and it adds another element to sensory play time. I was inspired while shopping this evening and decided to try my hand at making something myself! The result isn't perfect and it's definitely not commercial grade, but it will do us nicely at home. My boys were so disappointed when I finished it ten minutes before bedtime. I let them try it out and they begged and begged to stay up later.
All in all, the total cost was just under $30 and it took about 30 minutes to make.
The supplies are pretty simple! Two identical, shallow plastic tubs, a rope light, and a package of Command light clips (you could even make do without those!).
You can use any size tub that you'd like. I chose one that was about 36x18x6 so that both boys can play at the same time. If you're making this for one child, you can go smaller to save even more money!
The first step is to make a whole in one container for the lights to go through. The hole should go close to the bottom on one of the short sides. First I tried drilling a few holes with the biggest drill bit we had. That caused a crack, which is OK on this tub, but I ended up trying to clean it up a bit with a knife. It definitely didn't turn out professional looking but it did the job!
After the hole is cut, thread the rope light through, leaving a tail with the plug end. Then, start to snake the rope on the bottom of the tub. Use the command hooks to hold it in place as flat as possible. I had enough to snake across then wrap around the outer edge.
The further along I got, the more the lights tried to fight me. The hooks kept popping off and the lights tried their hardest to coil back up. I ended up using some strong clear tape to secure everything. If I did this again, I would probably skip the hooks and just use tape!
After the lights are in place, stack the other tub inside the first tub. Voila! Your very own light table!
The options are limitless for this! You could use colored rope lights or Christmas lights. We even saw some color changing light ropes that were controlled by a remote! If you don't want to see the actual rope light, you could add a thin layer of white paper to diffuse the light.
We started off playing with water beads. They look spectacular with the light shining through them! My boys were so excited to dive in and play! They preferred playing with the room lights off, but even with the overhead lights on it was still a neat experience. (Buy water beads here!)
We're going to try a thin layer of sand next. When the boys were younger, we loved watching sand shadow stories so we want to try that. I also think translucent toys like Magnatiles would be fun. If you're feeling brave, shaving cream or paint (or both!) would be great too!
All in all, we're happy with what we ended up with. We're looking forward to lots of bright fun!
If you have any questions about how we did this, leave us a comment!