More midwinter sensory play: lightboxes

Lightbox with felt stars

Here’s an easy way to let young children play with fairy lights safely and an interesting platform for collage art too.

Put a set of battery powered fairy lights inside a clear plastic box with a strong lid closure that baby can’t open. Or you could tape the lid shut. You’ll still need to supervise of course , especially if like me you have a baby and an older child who immediately opens the box and starts taking the battery pack apart…

… in which case, a light box for each child worked well for us. Little B enjoyed looking at his, bashing it and rolling it around. I taped the battery pack to the underside of the lid before sealing the box.

I made a larger one for Finn using a toy storage box and he experimented with arranging felt stars and patterned Christmas tape on the lid to make a backlit picture.

We also tried adding objects inside the light boxes, which was a nice way for Little B to have closer encounters with tree decorations.

The light boxes were fun for imaginative play too. After early dark, with the big light off, the red light box became a lighthouse on an island of cushions. Meanwhile, mummy became a beached whale – whoever said that toddlers are flattering.

One evening we took the light boxes into the bathroom and lit it with just those and a few real candles (out of reach) so the boys could have a candlelit bath, which they loved – and a good way to wind down after an exciting day.

I can see that ‘light table’ art activities like the collage that Finn was interested in for a few minutes are going to really come into their own as the children get a bit older. Especially as a way to look at and arrange found materials, shells, autumn leaves etc. And maybe for painting.

So, mostly with 3 years and up in mind, here are some more free and low-cost ideas for play on a lightbox from the brilliant Artful Parent.


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