Our DIY Light Tables
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!