Jun 10, 2010

Colour fun with our DIY lightbox

After the fun that the kids had with the lightbox we made for sand art outside, I thought it would be fun to bring it indoors and see if we could play with it in a different way.

I've seen light tables with coloured transparent perspex shapes at a couple of children's museums in the past, and the kids have had a great deal of fun with them, so I thought it would be nice to see if we could have a cheap home version.

I set up the table top I made in this post in the kid's bedroom on top of two old wooden draws that we keep their books in. This made a sort of kid level worktop for them to kneel on the floor and play at. We only had one light that was safe to put on the carpet beneath the table, but that gave plenty of illumination. It was a bit cramped in their bedroom, but that's the only room in the house that I sewed black out curtains for. If we do it with more kids than just the three that I had over today then It may be easier to do it in the garage, that only has two small windows that I can tape some cardboard over. I'll certainly get it out next time we have a sleepover!

We only had a couple of bits of transparent coloured plastic (acrylic stencils), so I had to find some alternative colour sources for the light to shine through. Coloured tissue paper worked really well. I also found the bag of glass nuggets that we'd used way back in the playdough mermaid kingdom. Some coloured plastic popsicle sticks also worked quite well.
I thought about getting some scrapbooking velum stuff, but that was a bit pricey, so I opted for ironing flat a load of coffee filters and letting the kids draw on them with markers and cut the drawings out. These worked surprisingly well.

The fridge magnet letters also let enough light through to be quite cool.

The really big glass nuggets were big enough to draw pictures on, like flowers, fish, planets etc...

It was a nice way to show colour mixing too.

and of course we could use the lightbox to trace things, which my five year old is quite interested in. We've done shadow puppet theatres before, but this seemed to get much more interest over a longer period of time from the kids, because there was so much more to the experience. Having everything down flat made it easier for them to work and being able to draw and colour characters was much more exciting than just having silhouettes, as with a traditional shadow puppet set up.

I don't think you'd even have to go to the effort of making a wooden crate set up like we have, because if you got the right sort of transparent plastic storage tub, then taping white paper to that would acheive just as decent sized area for creating on. I'm sure a lot of people even have them under their beds already!


Let the Children Play said...

Such a clever idea - a light box always seemed out of our budget but now it might be achievable after all :)

kelly said...

I think this is such a good idea, and some thing I will do when the nights start to draw in again.

Did the lights get quite hot? Did the glass? I have an old box picture frame that could make a smaller version.....ah, the possibilities!

Teacher Tom said...

I was lucky a few years back to have a parent who was the stage manager for one of our local theater companies. He gave us a huge stack of colored gel scraps -- the kind they use over their lighting. I'm sure most theaters have masses of the stuff left over if they're asked politely. =)

@kellyi . . . If you use florescent bulbs, they won't get hot and they use less energy as well.

Lindsey said...

Oooh, I'll have to see if I can score some coloured gel scraps like you Tom! That would add a lot of fun (it's a bit tricky for the kids to cut the shapes they want out of the tissue paper, but acetate kinda stuff they would find a lot easier)

The light we used was just a bedside lamp. It didn't get hot. We wouldn't have been able to use the same desk lamps that I used with the outside sand art set up, because they would likely have burned the carpet, or at least melted it's nasty synthetic dead buffaloness. I didn't use glass in the table, I cut a piece of perspex to size for it. Figured there was less chance of it breaking given that we're moving it around between indoors and outdoors.

Cara Jane (surfingcat) said...

I've just come across your blog (from craft gossip) and I love it! There are so many fantastic ideas I want to try with my kids or for myself. Thank you!!!

Lacie @ Creative Attempts said...

your blog is fantastic I have been having so much fun looking back on all of the creative things you have done!! you are an inspiration. I think I need to relax a little and let my son just be messy sometimes :)

JoAnn Stumpf said...

I've been looking at your blog ALL EVENING! it's fantastic it's 3AM and I can't seem to turn of the laptop! I have a very large coffee table with a glass top that I think will work beautifully for this, I'll have to come up with something else for the sand art

table top fridge said...

Such a clever idea and I love this!