If you follow me on Pinterest, you know I have an obsession with light tables. I want to buy one, but a sensory item that costs more than $10 is definitely not going to be cleared by the accounting department (aka Mr. Raising Kinley) so I have been collecting do-it-yourself ideas for literally two years.

They all do it differently--IKEA supplies, fairy lights, lanterns, light strips, actual tables that you cut holes out of with power tools, teeny tiny, ginormous. You name it. Someone has used it to make a light table. And I have pinned their idea.

It was all just so overwhelming to me, I guess. I need someone's idea to be THE idea. The best of all of the methods squeezed into one.

I finally read a blog post the other night about another mom's homemade light table and I thought to myself, "Dude. Just do it. Just gather up the stuff and DO IT ALREADY."

We were out running errands today and I found this super cool plastic box that had a translucent yellow lid and I just knew it--this was it! Our light table! Hallelujah. And bonus, it was a whopping $3.99. Woot woot! :)

I got Kin all amped up on the car ride home, and she was almost as excited as I was to get this thing rocking!

I knew from reading all the other approaches that we needed to line the box with something reflective, and I chose aluminum foil. I just Scotch-taped it to the sides and bottom. Easy. Peasy.

Okay, next we obviously needed lights and since our IKEA isn't open for business yet, and I didn't wanna go spend $20 on a lantern for an experimental project, I just scrounged up two strands of fairy lights out of the Christmas bins in the basement. Popped those babies in my freshly foil-lined box with the plug hanging out, of course. Lights: check.

Moving on to the lid. I thought the translucent yellow paint that came on the lid might be enough to diffuse the light, but it wasn't quite as cool as the science museum light table, so I went ahead and measured, cut and taped a sheet of white tissue paper inside the lid, and that's that. Seriously. It was finished!

**Edit: I ended up lining the bottom of the box with tissue paper and the lid with aluminum foil after we had played with it for awhile, because we realized that the pretty purple Magnatiles look grody brown on a yellow light table. I'm mostly telling you this so you know that when you are choosing a bin it doesn't matter if it is clear on the top or the bottom, just line the clear side with tissue paper. And, also, don't choose a bin with a yellow top if you have a small person that will feel very strongly about her purple Magnatiles at your house ;) )

Why in the world did I wait so long?! Have you been waiting, too? Do you also have a "Light Table Dreams" Pinterest board that you keep adding ideas to for someday when you actually have one of those impossibly cool sensory tools? Just make one. You will not regret it! You probably even have almost everything you need already.

Kinley and I played with the light table for hours after I got it finished. We mostly just played with her Magnatiles on it today. We made Magnatile present boxes and filled them with Tsum Tsums and Santa Kin delivered them to me--well, like physically me, but she gave me different names like Adele and Lady Gaga :) And then we made Magnatile apartment buildings for Sheriff Callie and her finger-puppet, Princess Stephanie. And then we played her ultimate favorite game: HULK SMASH aka Momma Builds Massive Cool Towers and Hulk K Smashes Them To Smithereens :) Big fun, I'm tellin' ya!

We are looking forward to trying out all kinds of different things--not just Magnatiles! I'll just keep a running list of the great ones right here on this post, so check back or check our Instagram feed once in awhile to find some fun light table ideas :)

List of Light Table Awesomeness: 
  • Magnatiles


  1. I made one of these at MM. I used those thin plastic folders that you can get in bright colors and cut them into all different shapes and animals. The kids loved this. Also neon colored disposable shot glasses for sorting, stacking and building along with some colored bingo chips were a favorite.

    1. Yes!! Thank you so much Alisha!! I have been at a total brain block about what to make light table stuff with...you rock!! :) I'm thinking about upgrading to a giant light table once IKEA finally opens -- have you seen all the incredible hacks for those things on Pinterest?