Our DIY Light Tables

There has been a lot of buzz about light tables over at Teach Preschool on Facebook. Deborah has collected some great ideas for light table play and has been experimenting with making her own table over on the Teach Preschool blog.  I thought I would share with you our two light tables and how we made them.

This first table is one that we put together with some scrap wood pieces, an old plexi-glass door from an entertainment center, and a couple of aquarium lights. Total Cost = $0. (We had everything on hand.)  The table needs a little bit of tweaking. (It is on my to do list).  Basically, we made a frame of wood around the plexi-glass and placed the lights under it. Our DIY skills in putting this together were far from expert, so the frame has a couple of gaps (and the reused wood is warped). We plan to try a new frame and use some caulk to seal any gaps.  We also plan to attach the lights to the side of the frame instead of just placing them on the floor under it. The plexi-glass could use some frosting, either with a coat of frosting spray or with a layer of frosted contact paper. Even though it could still use quite a bit of work, the children love it!
I think they like the gaps when playing with the sand too.... because they find small mountains of sand on the floor when we move the table ;). 

The second table we made is much smaller. It is nice to have 2 different sized tables. The smaller one promotes more individual or pair play, while the larger can accommodate more children. This smaller version was inspired by Jeff A  Johnson and Tasha A Johnson in their book:

You learn more about Jeff and Tasha over at Explorations Early Learning, LLC.  AND if you are local- Mark your calendar for April 13 -14, 2012 as Jeff is going to be one the Keynote Speakers at the UP Early Childhood Conference!
Okay, back to our table. You will need a plastic tote, an under the counter light, white spray paint, silver spray paint, painters tape, newspaper(or paper of some sort to cover the bottom of the tote), a sander or sandpaper, and a coping saw. (We used a dremel sander and a mouse sander, but you could easily use sandpaper). You will also need duct tape or another adhesive material to attach your light with.

Attach your light diagonally to the bottom of the cover of your tote. We used white duct tape to attach ours. Make sure to attach it securely to the lid.
For your tote, you will need to use the paper and painters tape to cover the bottom of the tote on the inside. This will prevent that area from being covered with paint. Then, spray the inside of your tote with a couple of coats of white paint. (I think I applied 2 coats, drying well between each coat). After the white paint has dried, apply a coat of metallic silver paint. When everything has dried, remove the paper and tape.
Then, with a coping saw, cut a notch in the side of the tote where the cord will pass through. (Put the top on the tote to make sure that the cord fits through and you can still securely attach the cover.) You may need to sand this cut. We used a sander on our Dremel to do this.

Place the lid on the tote, and then flip the tote upside down. You will use the bottom of the tote as the top of your table. If your tote is not frosted or if it has writing on the bottom, use a sander to frost it up and remove the writing.  Plug the table in and you are ready to play!   The tote still works great to store all of your light table accessories when the table is not in use. If you have the right kind of tote, there will be a small border all the way around the edge that works great to hold on the sand or salt!

What do you like to use with your light table?


Very clever ideas!:)
Deborah said…
I love it Amy - yours really works great! I think I have taken mine as far as I can for now:)
I am in total envy! Thanks for sharing how to make one of these in a cost-efficient way! This is on my to-do list for sure!
Interesting. Thanks for sharing. Very informative.
Scott said…
Love it, Amy! You and Deborah are inspiring me to make a light table of my own.
That is awesome, I am feeling so inspired to make one!
katepickle said…
Oh I'd love a light table.. totally putting this on my to do list for when our renos are done!
Messy Kids said…
I featured you on this weeks Do Something! DIY Fun and Learning Toys. You will probably get another mention when I do my light table round-up :)

Rachele @ Messy Kids
Minnesota Mommy said…
Oh I am so inspired by this post! I have been stressing over the cost of a light table, but really wanting to get one for my son. This tutorial fit the bill! Now I really CAN get him a light table - one I create myself! Thank you!
the_Tmac said…
I love it! Thanks for the ideas and I am following you back - love what you have going on here :) Peace, Traci from educatedforlove
mrs. cockrell said…
do you have a concern with the light getting to hot or melting the tote or the pelxiglass.
I love this idea. I am going to make one for my classroom.
Tracy McKeown said…
just bought all the items needed to make my own light table. I have sprayed the first coat of white and can't wait to finish it! Thanks for the ideas.
Darla Benedict said…
I am curious what the paint does? Defuse light up?
We have not had any problem with the lights getting too hot, and yes the paint is to help to diffuse the light.

Popular Posts