DIY Light Table… for under 20 Bucks!


Make Your Own Light Table


Have you seen kids play with light tables in classrooms, museums, or art centers?


Light Table


There’s just something about the way light shines through different objects – or doesn’t – that’s fascinating to little ones. I hadn’t really thought about how great light play was, or how much kids love it, until I started seeing all sorts of light table sensory play ideas on Pinterest.

If you search or anywhere else on the web for light tables, you’ll see that they’re a bit cost-prohibitive for a budget-wise homeschool mom. That little one pictured above runs over $350 on Table-top models sell for over $175.

Last week I made a fun, easy, and effective substitute for under $20:


Examining our New Light Table


Do you want to try it yourself? You’ll need:

  • A plastic storage box (this is the one I bought for $5.99)
  • A strand or two of white mini Christmas lights (these are the ones I bought – I used two, so I spent $10, but if you raid your Christmas light stash, your light box will cost even less!)
  • A drill with a bit the width of the plug end of your lights
  • Duct tape


Supplies to Build a Light Table

That’s it! Super cheap… Now, let’s build…


First, drill a hole near the lid on one of the short sides:

Drilling a Power Cord Hole in Light Table


Next, put your lights inside. Feed the plug through the hole and tape it securely from the inside:

Thread the Lights Through the Hole of the Light Table

Secure with Duct Tape


Finally, put the lid on and flip it over. Plug it in and play…


Trevor Playing With Water Beads

… with water beads


Light Table Play - Jewels, Tulle, and Flowers

… or jewels, tulle, and flowers


Light Table Picnic

… or you could invite the dolls for a light-up picnic


Light Table Shadows

Light and Shadows

… or you can play with light and shadows using animal figures.

The possibilities are endless, and I’m looking forward to trying new things out as I find them. It’s been really fun to have the kids come down to the school and play area in the morning to an “invitation” set up on the table. I try to light it up with a handful of objects on it, and let them play. I’m amazed to see their creativity come out as they play with this simple toy.

I’d love to hear from you if you try this yourself – or if you already have a light table and use it regularly. What have you “invited” your kids to explore with light? I’m looking for more invitations to offer… so share!