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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

DIY Mirror Play Table and Why mirrors for play

Back in September of 2012, I made a mirror play table for my Twins. The mirrors are all made of acrylic and are unbreakable. So they are totally safe for infant to adult! Then I added multicolor LED lights to it, but changed them to all white LED star lights because the multicolor lights were too busy and distracting! It is wonderful now with the star lights!! 

I have had many Moms ask me to tell them how I made this table, so I thought it was high time for me to tell everyone how to create a mirror table! 

But why would you want a mirror play table for your child?

There are many reasons that you should have a mirror play table for your child!  Mirrors can be very inspiring when added to your child's play space. Mirrors reflect light in multiple dimensions, they open up a dark area and bring light as well as beauty into it.  When you add mirrors behind or under objects a child is playing with or investigating, it opens up new ways and ideas of inspecting or playing with the objects. For example, When a child is playing with a set of blocks they would get a more interesting perspective if the blocks are placed on a mirror and have a few mirrors around them. The child gets to see the blocks and their block creations in many different angles and perspectives, as well as reflective depth. The block play now becomes a magical world with many different views. 

Children also love to look at themselves, they especially love to look at themselves while playing! With the addition of mirrors into your child's play space, you are not only giving them inspiration; you are also giving them a way to notice themselves more when they play. Children learn from playing, what better way to learn about themselves then to add mirrors so that they can see their own faces, hands, feet, and their whole bodies while they play and explore their toys.  

A mirror play table gives them the perfect opportunity to learn, play, and explore their toys in a whole new way. It is very interesting for a child to see their own hand reflected in a mirror while building with blocks, or sorting some colored gems, etc. You can count on the child putting their own lovely little face into the reflection during play too! It's so sweet to see them smile at themselves while they are deep in whatever adventures in play they are enjoying at that moment! There is really no limit to what they can play with on the table, as long as the toys are not really large or too bulky. Large or bulky toys are likely to cause issues with the table. 

Mirrors are a big deal!

If you want to learn more about mirror play, I highly recommend that you read, Making the most of light and mirrors! This book covers light tables, light play, and also mirror play! It is a really amazing, must have book! It's also a great starter book for those who are interested in the Reggio Emilia approach to learning. Everyone should have this book!  Oh and this book is what inspired me to make the mirror play table and a few others wonderful play items we have around my Twins' indoor play environment!

Please check out my Pinterest board that showcases many photos of my Twins Playing with Light and mirrors. You can view it here!

To make this table I used duct tape, a Thomas the Train folding play table, and two sets of acrylic mirror trays from Discount School Supply. 12 total mirrors total.

I will warn you, I change out our bottom six mirrors every 3 months. This is why I am able to now take pics and write this post. I did not bother to take pics of the building process back when I made it in he Fall of 2012. The reason for this is that there comes a price to pay with using safe, unbreakable acrylic mirrors, they will get scuffed over time. I assure you that it has been more than worth it to replace the mirrors every 3 months. My twins use the table a lot. They get a lot of wonderful reflective play hours from this table. I would never stop replacing the bottom mirrors, and I wouldn't want to leave them there indefinitely while looking so scuffed. It takes away from the reflective play if the mirrors are heavily scuffed. Think of this mirror play table as a pair of shoes, you have to drop $20 on shoes, if not more every few months because your child's shoes get scuffed, worn out, or too small. You would not want your child to wear shoes that no longer fit or looked like something the cat dragged in, same goes for the bottom 6 acrylic mirrors. They will get a lot of play out of the mirrors, but the play with show. They will look very well loved, which I assure you they really will be very well loved. Every child that comes to our house to play, loves the mirror table. They all love to look into the mirrors around our light table, around the room, in our block play area, and in our  Waldorf playstand. Children LOVE mirrors!

Please read the comments under each photo to see how to make this very special table!

Finished mirror table.

simple children's play table, it came with two folding chairs and was from wal mart. We use the chairs for this table and at our mirror table, as well as our activity table. 

Turn 3 of the mirrors upside down in a vertical position next to each other and tape them with duct tape on the back. Be careful, if you pull the tape back up, it could damage the reflective paper that is adhered to the acrylic panel that creates the  mirror. I also remove the protective films off the mirrors before I start taping the backsides.

close up of the taping

so the same for the remaining 3 mirrors and then also tape them to the first 3 mirrors.

it should then look like this

flip the mirrors over with their mirror side up and position it on your table nicely. Then gently lift up the mirrors closest to you, fold a piece of tape so that it will stick to the tape on the mirror and to the table. This is important, you do not want the mirror play table to come apart.

see the tape I stuck to the tape on the mirrors, then it will stick to the table too once you gently press it down.

Take your remaining 6 mirrors and lay them on the floor. Then tape them side by side vertically  but leave a teeny tiny bit of space between each mirror so that once they are taped, they can bend a little to form a nice half circle shape on the top of the mirror table.  Once the mirrors are taped, gently lift them on to your mirror table and position them like in the photo above.

see you can barely see the space. I was not able to show the mirrors layed out on the ground to be taped, because I did not replace the top 6 mirrors.

Once your top layer of mirrors are positioned correctly and evenly, you need to adhere them to the table to hold them in place. So take a nice big piece of tape and place it on the back of the mirror, where I placed mine.  The bottom half of this tape will be taped to the TABLE, not to the bottom mirrors.

see how it is taped to the table, this is to prevent damage to the reflective side of the mirrors.

Tape on the sides in two places to hold the top mirrors in place well,.

Then, if you want add some Christmas lights.  I previously used multicolor but soon realized that white were a much better choice. I chose white LED stars, we LOVE them!!  Simple white Christmas lights would be very nice too!

All done and lights on!!

playing with Target dollar bin reusable ice cubes. You can see another post with fun usage of plastic reusable ice cubes purchased from the dollar tree in spring of 2012  HERE


very into examining the diamond shapes on the mirror table!!  ;)

Special thanks to Rebekah from The Golden Gleam for gently nudging me to write this post!!


  1. wow, this is so interesting - like a big kaleidoscope! Never seen anything like this. I'm bookmarking this post so I can come back and follow the steps to make one for our home! Thank you for this fab idea!

  2. Very cool. I need to make a mirror table. Great tutorial!

  3. Fantastic post and idea! It is your blog and all your light play ideas that is making me slowly inch towards a DIY light table. So many fun ways to play with lights and mirrors. Awesome..When did you start lighs and mirrors play with your boys?

    1. Suja, thats wonderful!! if you do, send your post links my way!!!
      I started with them in 2011

  4. JDaniel will love this and I think I would love to explore it too.

  5. Wow, you know I already think this incredible!!! And your instructions are so clear. It's amazing what you can do with a little duct tape! This is definitely on my to-do list for the kids because I am looking at elements to add to our space to encourage exploration through free play and this mirror table definitely does it.

    Thank you for the shout out! Will be sharing this on FB and pinning!

    1. Thank you!! Yah duct tape can be helpful for so many things!!

  6. thanks- I plan to make one too! I wonder if clear contact paper would protect the bottom mirrors without loosing quality? Hmm will try it out!

  7. Wow...I was just looking at those acrylic mirrors in the Discount School Supply catalog and thinking I want to make a mirror exploration center with those for my preschool! I was thinking of velcro on cardboard backing to stand them up, but I like what you did instead. I coincidentally came across this post while looking something completely different up on pinterest:) Cool! Thanks so much!

  8. Some Interesting ideas found in your post. Thanks for your creativity.


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