Light Table Fun

A Primer on Light Tables for Fun & Learning

By Kristen Stehli May 5, 2015
Once only the tools of doctors & photo editors, light tables are spreading out as a new source of family fun and learning. A light table is an illuminated table, panel, or box. They are great for learning and exploring different educational toys and materials, for sensory play, as therapy for autistic, sight impaired and other special needs children, and widely used as an educational staple in Reggio Emilia based schools. 

Light tables are an amazing way to explore light and learn about how different materials react to being placed on a light source. Light tables are a unique educational item that can help your child learn and explore through a whole new world. For example, take a colored translucent drinking glass and set it on a wooden table. Look at the glass. Oh boy, it's a glass sitting on the table. Big deal, huh? Well OK now take that same glass, remove your lamp shade, turn on the lamp and hold the colored translucent glass in front of it. Now what do you see? What do you think? It looks pretty interesting now, right? Well this is what a light table does. It makes learning Its so much more interesting. It opens your eyes and your children's eyes to a whole new way of learning.


Light tables are great for play based learning. You can use a light table to adapt nearly any subject into a fun light table learning activity. Light tables are not just for pre-k or kindergarten. You can adapt math, sight words, reading, spelling, science, and most any academic lessons into a light table activity.

There are four forms of a Light Table, they all do the same thing but vary in size. However each form of a light table has different types, sizes, and quality as well. Plus certain light boxes are generally only for use by Doctors for X-Ray viewing. Though some people have purchased used ones and now use them effectively.

Light Table (looks more like a table)
Light Panel (sits on a table and is easily portable)
Light Box (more bulky, box like, and some are for Doctors x-ray viewing)
Light Pad (usually only used by artists for drawing and tracing)

You can also use an overhead projector for light play too. They are a great way to explore light, color, and shadows! When using an overhead projector you are not just playing and learning with light you are playing and learning with projected light, color, images, and more!

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