Light Table Play

Children love light tables! Learn the benefits of light tables in preschools and beyond, plus read how you can make your own. This post also includes recommended toys for light tables.

Children love light tables! Learn the benefits of light tables in preschools and beyond, plus read how you can make your own. Post also includes recommended toys for light tables.

I took these photos on a day when Anna was sick and we spent a lot of time playing quietly on our light table.

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Light Table Alternatives

We were lucky enough to receive this light table as a blog review item a few years ago. They can be quite expensive, but you can make your own using an underbed storage bin and LED battery operated lights.

This Crayola tracing pad makes a lovely small light table; you can also buy larger professional tracing tables for less than you would pay for a child’s light table. Be aware that that professional tracing tables may have glass tops and therefore require gentle play; the children’s tables are virtually indestructible and that is where the higher price comes in.

Light tables draw children in for quiet play and are particularly popular on dark stormy days. Find play ideas and ideas, benefits, and ways to make your own in this post.

Benefits of Light Table Play in Preschool (and beyond)

My kids go through phases of playing with our light table constantly and ignoring it. Every once in a while, I will set it up – and that has never failed to pull them in.

Light tables are wonderful for creating a quiet, focused environment for small world play.

A light table can instantly brighten up a dark, stormy day, and I find that my children often gravitate towards it when they are sick as well.

I have collected several translucent toys (with more on our “maybe-someday” list) because my kids love playing with them both on and off the light table.

My kids also use our light table for tracing and design projects.

Light tables can be a worthwhile investment; did you know you can also make your own? Learn how in this post, along with benefits of light table play and recommended toys for light tables.

Light Table Play: Toys Kids Love

The blue bocks are clear blue plastic dominoes from bulk dominoes. The clear dominoes cost a bit more than the opaque ones, but my kids LOVE the clear ones – particularly these which remind them of Elsa’s palace. Here are other toys my kids love using on the light table. Some we own; others are on our family wish list after discovering them at children’s museums, which nearly always have light tables. My kids use all of these items off of our light table, as well.

Magna-Tiles are one of my all-time favorite toys. They are very well made, with rivets securing edges and corners. We have been building our collection one Christmas at a time, and always buy the translucent ones, which allow for cathedral-like buildings on the light table.

These adorable math manipulative Family Counters get a lot of play with wooden blocks as well as on our light table. I love that the baby can be carried. They are wonderful for color, shape, and size sorting – and they make math homework a lot more fun!

I love the way the Learning Resources Letter Construction Activity Set breaks letters into a few different shapes. My kids make things besides letters with these, as well.

True to life human x-rays. These are real human x-rays that can be put together to create a complete skeleton. Since they are life-size, my kids can only view a couple on our light table at a time. You could pin the entire thing to a sliding door or large window, though. There is also an animal x-ray set that we have on our “someday” list.

These Viewthru Geometric Solids are on my wishlist. I love the range of colors and think they are wonderful for helping kids understand how shapes are made.

Rainbow blocks are fun both on and off the light table, and this set is more affordable than others I have found. My kids like to turn their world a new color by looking through them.

These Power Polygons are great for exploring shapes on light tables!

What Benefits of Light Table Play Do You See?

What toys would you add to this list? Do you have a light table? What benefits of light tables in preschool (and beyond) do you see?

Kids love light tables! Learn about the benefits of this play tool and read how you can make your own.

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MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

8 thoughts on “Light Table Play”

  1. I hadn’t thought of introducing a light table to my kids. I have one for when I did calligraphy and now that I think about it, my kids would probably love to trace with it too. I have to check mine though and make sure it’s not too bright. I remember it being bright on MY eyes but that may be because of the paper I used.

    1. I hadn’t thought about brightness, but you are right, it could be an issue with a professional table. The table we have as well as the tracing tablets my kids have were designed with kids in mind and are not that bright.

  2. The light table looks awesome! We’ve never had one at home but my kids’ preschools all used them and they were a really popular station. Do you find that it takes up a lot of room or does it break down nicely?

  3. My kids use the overhead projector rather like a light table. I need to look into getting overhead projector stuff, though light table supplies would probably work also.

  4. That’s a cool idea! My daughter has an LED tracing table which she loves but doesn’t use all that much. Did a few tracings at first but nothing for a while. I’ll look into some of the translucent letters and other stuff. Thanks again.

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