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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Best Light Tables and Accessories

I have spent the last few years researching Reggio, Montessori, and even some Waldorf. If you have ever wondered anything about light tables, this post is the one for you!  By reading this post and the posts that are linked within it, you will soon be know pretty much anything and everything regarding light tables and their purpose. Along with that, you will find out about all the best light tables there are to buy or make. Plus the skinny on the very best light table toys and accessories for play, fun, and learning!!

Best Light Tables

If you really want a good breakdown explanation of the different types of light tables and light boxes, your very best bet is to go and read THIS post. My favorite light table/box option is the ultra thin portable light panel. It is made by constructive playthings. It has the absolute best light distribution and best light tone. These are two very important factors that you want to consider very seriously when choosing a light table or light box. You want to consider that the light table you buy could be damaging over a period of time to your children's eyes,

 If you choose one with harsh light, poorly distributed light, visible light lines, not enough opaqueness, too much opaqueness, or one that is home made and has a completely transparent top, they could do damage over time. I have seen many pictures on blogs, facebook, and on pinterest of cheaply made light boxes made by parents with the very best intentions for their kids. The only problem is that in the long run they could pose a threat to the children's vision. If you see a tutorial online to make a cheap light box and the light box has a totally see through top, you do not want to make that light box. It is not a wise idea to have your child staring directly down into a light bulb or set of white Christmas lights for any period of time. You can remind yourself of this by simply staring at a light bulb for two minutes, how are you seeing now?? lots of spots eh??

 Do yourself and your kids a favor, no see through top home made light boxes!! Please also consider that a light box or light table should not have visible lines or circles from the light or lights that are inside the box or table. A light box or light table should not be so dimly lit or overly opaque that you have to adjust the pictures you take of your children playing with the light box to make the light look brighter before posting it to your instagram, blog, facebook, or other places that you post your photos online. Lastly, you don't want a light box that provides a really harsh bright light. It makes for very unappealing light box playtime. An example of this would be a super bright artists light table for sketching and drawing. I thought I was a real wise gal and thought I was saving money by buying an artists light box. First off, the light is way too harsh.  It is NOT meant for direct light use. It is meant to have sketch paper placed on it so that you can see what you are drawing or tracing. Obviously this makes it a bad choice for a light box.

I had to put contact paper over it to dull the light a bit. However, white was too opaque and would not work at all. Only the transparent contact paper would work and honestly it did not work too well. So we had to also put a clear sterlite box on top of the light table and put whatever we were playing with inside of it. An X-Ray box is slightly worse because of how harsh the light is. They are meant to make X-Rays visible to a Doctor or Surgeon, the light is very bright. Much too bright for a light box. Harsh, intensely bright light is not what a light table or light box should be. They are meant to open up a whole new light (no pun intended) to whatever you put on it for play, fun, and learning. They are not meant to cause headaches or vision problems after an hour or over a period of time with many uses.

I finally gave up on our artists light box after a very short period of time, and ended up buying the ultra thin portable light panel by constructive playthings.

 If you can, I recommend buying two of them if you have more than one child. It will turn out stressful in the long run if two or more children are playing with it at once. You could make your children take turns, but that does not always pan out well either, If you are on a budget, get the relatives to chip in and buy one of them. You can start off small with the light table toys. You can even use stuff from the dollar tree, plastic colored translucent school dividers, translucent plates, bowls, and cups, translucent items from around the house, etc. Getting the light table is the first step, Getting special toys for it will come in time and build up over the years. I always tell my friend Lisa, "Rome wasn't built in a day!!"  She is trying to get started with a light table and toys for it this year. She has been waiting all year until the Holidays!! I know her kids will love it, they love it when they come to play at my house!!

These photos are both from the ultra thin portable light panel, made by constructive playthings.

Here are the best light tables out there right now, outside of getting a commercial school grade light table. They are beautiful but quite large and very pricey.

If you are looking for an excellent starter light play source, the Constructive Playthings light panel is a great option. The light panel has even light distribution and is well constructed. I highly recommend this light panel. You can not go wrong with it. Plus, if you decide to upgrade to something larger later, it can be used as an extra. That comes into handy all the time for us!

If you are looking for something a bit large, the best choice is a Whitney Brothers light table.
They are gorgeous! The light is evenly distributed and the table is very well made.
 All Whitney Brothers light tables are green guard certified too. 

The price is bit higher than a light panel, but well worth the money. 

Whitney Brothers Light Table, excellent

Whitney Brothers Big, Big Light table, excellent

Alex Toys light table, very nice

Alex Toys light box, this is a nice one

This one is made by Jonti Craft and is nice

Here is a small one made by Jonti Craft, also a nice choice

I actually made a light box for messy play with liquids and science play.  
See this post here about how I made it!

Here are three links to well done DIY light tables that I recommend!
If I see more well done DIY light tables, I will update this blog post with links to them.

Now on to the toys and accessories!!

Best Light Tables Toys and Accessories

These toys and accessories are all highly recommended for light tables. They are all translucent and all worth having. These are items my twins have collected over the years and love! They are all useful for both fun and learning. All of these items are great light table starters. They are also all equally great for playing with in natural light(light coming in from outside), overhead projector, and just playing on the floor or a table! When I am buying toys if there is a translucent or solid option, I will always choose the translucent option. They are more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, as well as multi functional.  You will get way more use out of a translucent toy than a solid color toy. Solid color toys have limits of usage. For example both wedgits and magna tiles have an option to buy the toy in solid color or translucent.

Some really great items to use on the light table would be glass plant gems, they sell them at Michaels, The Dollar Tree, and anywhere else that has plant accessories for silk or real plants. Shot glasses. shooter tubes, and cocktail stirrers are awesome light table toys. They can be used for stacking, counting, matching, and much more! Translucent hair clips, gel window clings, plastic bracelets, translucent items from around the house, colorful translucent childrens plates, cups, bowls are also great for the light table. The ones made by Sassy and Ikea work very well. Bingo chips are another awesome item for the light table. Basically anything that is safe for your child'a age and translucent(preferably colorful) is great for the light table! There are also many ways to make home made light table toys!! To see some great ideas, please check out the links below and especially the one labeled "The Light Table Resource on Pinterest"!  *The Pinterest board is updated all the time*

Rainbow Crystal Cubes

Magna Tiles

Water beads and water bead squares


color paddles
Geometric shapes

Bingo chips

Prism Bricks
(AKA Light table Legos)

Prism Brick Bases

Marble Run

Zoob Sparkle
Q-ba maze
(legos meet marble maze)

translucent builders

giant crystal connectors

Letters and Numbers

tubes for building

Letter Construction

Window Blocks


translucent cocktail stirrers

Want More???

Click the images and go to the links below to see MORE about light tables and accessories!!

Every image is linked!!!

click the images to see where to get the item or to get to a blog post that is linked

The largest collaborative light table resource on the Internet!

 The Ultimate Light Table Guide
The Ultimate Light Table Guide


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  2. What an amazing resource!! We don't have a light table yet, so your suggestions are wonderful! :)

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