DIY Lightbox table for children

As you may know, Lightboxes are used a lot in Reggio and Reggio inspired environments. Children love them and they lend themselves to many learning opportunities. A lightbox is open ended and can be used in multiple ways. (Please note this post contains affiliate links)

Lightboxes/Light tables are such fun. For home and/or for the classroom. I am going to show you two ways to make a lightbox for yourself, from basic to more complicated, depending on what resources you have available.

Basic DIY lightbox option 1

This is a good option if you want to make a lightbox ASAP. All you need is some fairy lights and a plastic container!

You will need:

  • Clear plastic container with lid
  • Tinfoil
  • Fairy lights with battery pack
  • Tissue paper/ tracing paper or even normal paper

Simply line your container with foil to help reflect the light. Then turn on the fairy lights and put them in the container. I sometimes stuck a piece of tracing paper or normal paper on the inside of the lid to make it opaque and so you couldn’t see the fairy lights and it also helped diffuse the light.

This is a simple yet effective light box and children still love it. It will be as big as your container is, if it is a very big container you may want to add 2 stings of lights in the box. If your room is very bright you might not be able to see it’s effect so I would recommend using this in a darker room. This lightbox is great because it is portable!

Basic DIY lightbox option 2

This lightbox uses Perspex and some people have trouble getting access or affording Perspex, that is when they would use option 1. However if you have access to Perspex and can get it cut to your size. Your options are unlimited.

This was one of the very first lightboxes I ever made. I made it using an old abandoned canvas. I had an old canvas (one that had a wooden frame so it was deep.) I turned it upside down and I stuck LED lights around the edge and placed a piece of opaque Perspex on the top. I had to ask someone to help me drill a hole on the side so I could connect the LED strip of lights to the plug point. The next trick is finding the right kind of lights to use. You can check your local lighting warehouse or Chinatown store for a strip of lights. I think this was a 1m strip and it was sticky at the back so I could just stick it around the inside of the wooden frame. It worked wonderfully and was also super small and light and I could easily move it to any room.

Now if you don’t have an old wooden box or canvas to use then you can get a wooden box made. If you go to your local building supplier or warehouse then you might be able to ask them if they can build the box for you. You can decide how big you want it. The one above is still small enough to be on a table. The one thing I would recommend is getting the Perspex cut to fit inside the box. If you look carefully at the picture you can see the Perspex sits in the box, resting on columns of wood. So it can get a bit technical. I also used light bulbs in this box which is cool because it means you can change the color of the lightbulb.

The one above is a long light box and I put a light bulb on each end of the box. Blue on one side and red on the other side. Then when both the lights were turned on it went purple in the middle. It was lots of fun!

The latest lightbox I made was using a deep framed wooden mirror, LED strip of lights inside and Perspex on top. You will just need to be able to drill a hole to thread the cable through for the plug otherwise you can use battery operated lights and just stick the lid down to open and close it, to turn the lights on and off.

At school we also have large light tables that stay in the rooms, some are the correct height for when children are sitting on the floor and some are standing height. But the concept is the same- wooden box with lights inside and Perspex on top.

I hope that you are inspired to make your own light table or lightbox. You are welcome to leave a picture in the comments or on my FB page, I would love to see what you make!

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