DIY Light Table

how to make a light table

While my son is at school I tend to use that time for errands and it’s really not fair to my toddler so today when I saw the extra string of Christmas lights I decided we’d have some fun exploring colors. This DIY light table should not be used for long periods of time, only with a parent right there at the box and please don’t let your kids touch the light strands as they have lead, and remember to wash your hands after touching them too. We only played for about 10 minutes and that was enough time for the lights to get warm so I wouldn’t play longer than that .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a clear plastic container with lid, some wax paper, a strand of white christmas lights, scissors and tape. For the colors we used take and toss cup lids. No need to buy expensive color forms if you have something you can use at home already.
  2. Start by putting the lights on the lid, I taped them down in 2 places just so they were staionary in the box.
  3. Cut some wax paper and line the bottom so the light diffuses well.
  4. Close the lid with the cord sticking out – mine closed no problem but you could cut a notch out if you can’t close the lid with the cord out. comfortably ( you don’t want to run the risk of the cord being cut, my lid was very loose and didn’t press into the cord).
  5. Plug in and play.
  6. She LOVED it.
  7. Explore.
  8. We piled them on , identified them – I had no idea she knew so many colors, we had a blast.

Please only try activities that you feel are safe for your family, I share what we have made and done with the request that you will only make and do what your child is ready for and you can do safely.

Book About Colors For Babies

I Love Colors by Margaret Miller is one of my daughter’s favorite books. When we went to the library she started pulling the parenting books off the shelf because there are pictures of babies on the covers. The librarian was quick to notice and started finding us books with babies and this was one of the winners. We have now renewed this book twice and read it many many times a day. The book is super simple and each page shows a baby with a colored item like glasses, a hair bow etc… the photos are big and of real babies which if your toddler is like mine, makes a big difference.

Art Exploration With Colored Glue

My son loves creating with glue, and lately color mixing has become a popular request for art time so yesterday I decided to mix the two with a super simple activity that focuses on process not product.  I have colored glue before but never in the bottles, as you will see it minimizes the mess for the project but it didn’t minimize it for the prep. I have a few tips for prep so you can skip the multi colored hands I am sporting today. This is also the perfect time of year for a project

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some white glue, food color and paper. My son chose black paper which depending on your child will be super cool or horribly disappointing. When the glue is dry you will see almost no color if you use black. We were focusing on the process so black was fine. I included a version made on orange paper below to see the results on lighter paper.
  2. Start by protecting your table, colored glue can be a bug to get off.  I made a simple mat from a brown paper grocery bag, and attached it to the table top with painters tape.
  3. Make your colored glue. Starting with glue bottles that are not full. I thought this was enough space but when I do this again I am going to use half full bottles.
  4. Add your food color. Here is where I messed up. I treated the glue like water expecting the food color to incorporate easily but of course it just sits on top. You need to mix it, add more, mix than add more.  If you don’t when you turn them upside down ( tip – do not turn it upside down until well mixed) the food color will dribble out and make a huge mess.
  5. And while panic mounts and you clean up your hands will end up like this.
  6. Instead use only half a bottle of glue and a chopstick(or kabob skewer) to mix. Adding a small amount at a time until it’s the color you want.
  7. Time to invite the small ones to explore. No instructions, just have fun.
  8. He mixed colors.
  9. Loved the vibrant colors, my blue stained hands were totally worth it.
  10. Dry .As you can imagine it doesn’t show up well on black. My son exclaimed “It’s spy glue!” It also takes a long time to dry- so find a good place for it to sit for a full day. 
  11. This is a quick design I made on orange paper and let dry, the glossy colors are so fun!

Color Mixing With A Toddler & Preschooler

Doing projects with your kids is supposed to be fun for everyone, but when your kids are far apart in age it can be challenging. This project is perfect for different ages! Since having my daughter last year one of the most common questions I get is ” How do you craft with both kids?” Some days I do just a baby project, some days just a big kid one but there are times that we can all work together despite the almost 4 year age gap. This color mixing activity was perfect . They each had their parts and we had a blast being color scientists although if you ask my son his sister was his lab assistant not a full scientist, that is only for big kids.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some good quality zip lock bags, shaving cream, some paper, crayons or markers, and food coloring.
  2. Start by making a simple chart showing the colors to mix , leaving the result blank. Make sure you have the correct color of marker or crayon available for the result.  We made 4 colors, adjust the number of colors based on the attention span of your “scientists”.
  3. Add shaving cream to the zip lock. My son helped me with this step- he was so excited. I love when simple things make his day!
  4. Add the food coloring. We added 2 of each color but then increased it to 5. Look now they are counting too , I love when projects span many subject areas.
  5. Zip it up , making sure to squeeze out some air so when your “lab assistant” squishes it that the bag doesn’t pop.
  6. Squish! Until the colors are all mixed.
  7. She loved squishing, just watch they do not put it in their mouth. Whenever you are working with toddlers or infants you must always be within arms reach. Label the colors, use descriptive words while they explore.
  8. Come back and record the results by finding the correct color and completing the chart.
  9. Talk about the results. Ask if any colors were surprising , which color do they like the best and why?

Crafting, teaching or just generally parenting is different with multiple abilities but with a little effort you can find activities that can be done at the same time for every child in your care. We had a blast and another real benefit of a cooperative project like this is that your kids are working together something that isn’t always so easy to achieve.

Matching Rainbow

by Katy

This post is about a learning activity I did with my son, Charlie, but it’s also about working with special needs kids in general and how sometimes you might have to look at something differently to get the desired result. I wanted to share this activity with you all because it involved some problem solving, but in the end it was completely worth it. Working and teaching a special needs child can have it’s challenges, but when you can it right, you’re on top of the world.

For this activity we used:

  • A piece of poster board or card stock
  • markers
  • colored dot stickers (Available on the stationery aisle almost anywhere)

For this activity, I wanted to do something with a rainbow and colors. After spotting some “dot stickers” on the stationery aisle, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

I drew a rainbow with a black marker on half a sheet of poster board. I then used those markers to color it myself–my son hates markers. Did spend a lot of time on it–just enough to make it very clear where each color should be.

We then took out the stickers and began places the stickers in the matching section of rainbow.

We started off guiding Charlie through the motions, waiting for him to start initiating some himself, but we weren’t getting a whole lot out of him. Then my husband remembered that Charlie has gotten very interested in other people’s hands–he likes to touch them, move them around, etc. So we switched things up. My husband held the sticker and asked Charlie where he should put it. Charlie immediately grabbed my husband’s hand and moved it to the correct place.

He did this nine times in a row–until it was clear to both of us that he had no trouble understanding matching. We were so excited to see that he not only understood the activity, but that he was pretty good at it too!

Working with a special needs child sometimes forces you to think outside of your comfort zone–consider different ways. Would it be great if my son could do this activity with no help from his parents? Of course, but in the mean time I want to keep stimulating his brain until his body catches up.

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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

Trash Rainbow Craft

trash collage rainbow craft for kids

I love rainbows. With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner rainbows have been popping up every time I sit down to brainstorm activities. This one was particularly fun because it used things I am cleaning out of my craft dump closet , incorporates my son’s incredible love of pretend play ( he’s a garbage sorter) and most every preschooler’s desire to sort.  You can do this in 2 parts sorting one day, making a rainbow the next or if I was still teaching I’d do this as a cooperative group project. My 4 year old did all the way up to putting the trash on then lost interest until I started putting some on and he ran back to the table saying he could do it better (is everything a competition in your house too? Sigh) so we did the gluing together.Make sure whatever materials you use that they are safe for the age/ ability of child you are doing this with.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a large piece of paper ( I used a grocery bag cut open ), glue, scissors, colored pencils/markers , 7 small containers, small squares of paper in the colors of the rainbow, a mixed mess of “garbage ” -paper/ buttons/foam/plastic toys/ribbon in the colors of the rainbow.
  2. Next fill a container up with all the “garbage”
  3. Start sorting by color.
  4. I was so pleased with how much he liked this part of the activity. It seemed to go on and on forever as he pretended to need a coffee break from his job at the garbage sorting factory. We are not short on imagination in this house.
  5. While he returned to work I made the rainbow with colored pencils.
  6. Time to add glue. We added two glue for a few colors at a time.
  7. Add the objects! We did this part together
  8. Add more glue.
  9. Add more objects.
  10. Let dry.

Books About Rainbows

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Duckie’s Rainbow by Frances Barry is a clever little book , you walk with her as she passes things like a yellow cornfield and blue pond until the pages above create a rainbow . I love the idea but reading it with my son ( who was 2 at the time) all he wanted to do was turn the pages as quickly as he could to make the rainbow. Not a big deal but this would make a better story time book then a bedtime one for that reason.

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert is a wonderful book to use for teaching about flowers and colors. The illustrations are bold and bright, perfect for little curious minds. I have always liked this book because you can sit down and dive into it reading each flowers name on every page , or browse it more casually with a younger child simply noting the colors.

This project too complicated for your toddler? Yesterday in my Link &Learn weekly linky this awesome rainbow project from Toddler Approved was linked. When I saw it after writing this post I knew it would be a perfect link to share as an option for younger kids so I added it in .