You spend enough time hanging around the DIY or Kids sections of Pinterest and you’re definitely going to come across light tables. I first came upon the idea from Play At Home Mom and once I figured out that they weren’t talking about the light tables you use to trace things (although you could use it for that!), I was completely hooked and brainstormed for weeks how I could implement one in our house. We definitely don’t have room for a table that is 100% just for light activities but there had to be someway to add it to an existing piece of furniture.
Then I heard about a tutorial floating around the internet where someone converted a train table to a light table! (You’re awesome, Minivan or Clown Car?) We have one of those ridiculously large train tables taking up space in our playroom anyway. We use it for a million different things everyday…why not add a light function to make that a million and one.
Unfortunately, the tutorial on Minivan or Clown Car? was for a different style of table so we had to pretty much just start from scratch. If you scroll down, you’ll see that I had to sacrifice a drawer (the horror!). Jim made up for this by enclosing the two side panels of the table. It kinda sucks that the manufacturer didn’t just enclose them to begin with but what’s a few happy parents in comparison to a couple more dollars profit per table. Boo.
But back to the table…we originally tried to keep the drawer functional by stringing rope lights across the top of the drawer but the lights were too close to the plexiglass panel and you could pretty much just see the rope through it. Also our rope light wasn’t nearly bright enough. Maybe it’s because we bought a cheap rope light, an LED rope would probably work better but those are kinda pricey. So, instead, we did away with a drawer, enclosed the sides and bought two Slim Line Florescent Lights.
We’ll probably nail the drawer shut, just in case any kid decides to have a lightsaber fight or something.
– train table
– sheet of plexiglass
– white contact paper
– wood strips
– screwdriver/screws or liquid nails
– 2 slim line florescent lights
1. First, you’re going to have to create side beams for the piece of plexiglass to rest on. I got Jim to measure, cut and screw in a few pieces of scrap wood into the inside of the table. Unless your table is a KidCraft from Costco, it’s probably going to be different from the one we have pictured here. Make sure that the side beams are inset enough that the plexiglass sheet isn’t higher than the table top. We put ours about 3/4 an inch down so that there would be a little lip even when we have the plexiglass in. It helps prevent things from rolling all over the place. You could try to use Liquid Nails if a drill and screws aren’t your thing.
4. Add your lights to the drawer. Wish we could have found lights that would fit in the drawer better but our choices were somewhat limited to what I could find at Home Depot. We have a both lights connected to a small power strip that is then plugged into the wall. That way we can just turn on the power strip when we want to use the light table.
5. Carefully lay in your plexiglass piece (contact paper side down) and flip the switch! Edit: Adding a few more pictures of what the light table looks like. (Thanks Amy!) And before someone mentions it, the table is usually pushed up against the outlets so we don’t have to worry about covers.
Ok. So, you have a light table. Now what? Jump over to my Light Table folder on Pinterest to get you started on the ridiculously huge amount of activities you can set up for your child. From sensory activities with water beads to letter practice in sand, the possibilities are endless!
Of course, Max (my 8 month old) is very interested in what all this Light Table fuss is about so if any of you have any ideas on things to do with babies and light tables, I’d be very very interested!