Guest Post: A homemade light table for preschool

Creative ways to explore light in your classroom with a DIY light table

It is always exciting when my readers write to me and share how they have expanded on or implemented ideas in their own classrooms. Cynthia Tanguay sent me some beautiful photos of her light table and generously gave me permission to share her photos and her instructions on my blog.  You can learn more about Cynthia at the end of this post. I think her bio is wonderful and could have been a blog post all by itself!

Instructions for a Light Table

by Cynthia Tanguay

“I made your light box but found that I was going through a ton of batteries so I picked up a 13 foot light rope at Home Depot, wound it into a continuous spiral in the bottom of the box and put the cord through a hole drilled in the back.”

“I also had a large piece of silver Mylar that I taped into the bottom and sides of the box. It is much more reflective than the silver paint.”

“Since I had two boxes, I discarded the lid from the second one and taped it (the box) onto the top of the light box. That way we can easily contain the beads and plexiglass pieces.”

Cynthia’s Creative Light Table Activities

“Also, I contacted a plexi-glass company online and asked if they would be willing to send me small scraps that they would ordinarily throw out. They sent me a 10 pound box with hundreds of brightly colored pieces. We sanded the edges and adde two of each color to our light box… Just look how pretty they are.”

“Like you, I traced characters from some of our favorite books. Glass beads are great for coloring “The Rainbow Fish.”

A Generous Gift from Cynthia

Cynthia sent me some beautiful glass beads and some of her plexiglass shapes in the mail. What a generous gift from a very giving teacher! My students LOVED the plexiglass shapes.

I will be using the materials Cynthia sent me and I love the idea of drawing connections to literacy. This is what makes teaching so exciting. Sharing materials and ideas always inspires me to be creative and resourceful. Thank you, Cynthia!

The Frog Game

Cynthia also shared her amazing spin on the Frog Game that I shared last year. You can read my version of the frog game here.

Cynthia’s Inspiring Version of the Frog Game

“I loved your frog game so much that I made one too. I used photo paper with markers because the colors come out so vibrant. I had a set of 5 poison dart frogs so I put them on the printer bed and made copies to put on a Styrofoam cube. The frogs start out in the rocks, cross the grass and jump into the pond. The kids say “Hop Frog Hop” until they get to the last square. Then they say “Swim Frog Swim!” as each frog makes it into the pond.”

About Cynthia Tanguay

My name is Cynthia Tanguay and I’ve been a licensed Family Daycare Provider for well over 20 years. Miss Puddle Duck’s Day Care is in Redford, Michigan and the kids know me as Miss Puddle Duck. I started out with no child development training what-so-ever and my only experience was having raised five children. I stumbled along for a few years making every mistake imaginable. It became clear that something had to change so I started looking for some sort of training. Then I discovered that the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation and Pre-school was practically in my backyard so I started attending conferences and trainings there. The High/Scope method is used in every Head Start program in the US. It’s the best of the best.

I am pleased to say I have long since abandonded my old ‘heard em up and tell em what to do’ ways. Now I sit on the floor most of the day listening to and encouraging children to explore everything in their environment. Now I plan around their interests rather than following themes from a book. I’ve gotten rid of the calendar which has no meaning for a toddler or pre-schooler and replaced it with a message board with picture messages that are about the children themselves and the things they do in daycare. Art is open-ended, paint is sometimes made from food, we play with old tires and milk crates and planks of wood. We climb trees and play in puddles. There are no batteries and darn few plastic toys. I love that I get to play all day in sand and water and build blocks and sing silly made-up songs and make spider sandwiches and paint on windows with shaving cream and read stories I’ve long since memorized using funny voices.

My favorite part of daycare is making cool stuff with the kids using interesting junk. We have ‘The Junk Room’ full of shelves and bins of all manner of useful junk. Two or three times a week the kids ask if we can go to he junk room to find something that can be used to make this or that. And of course after daycare has closed for the day, I can usually be found in the junk room inventing a new toy or game or project.

I suppose I’ll grow up one day… but not just yet. For now I’m Miss Puddle Duck.

Links to grow on…



Deborah J Stewart

Deborah J Stewart

Every time I think I know everything I need to know about teaching young children, God says, "Hold on a minute!" and gives me a new challenge.

Let me tell ya...

With each new challenge that you overcome, you will find yourself better equipped and more passionate about teaching young children.

God didn't call wimps to lead, teach, or care for His children. Nope, he has high expectations, so get ready. You will have to give your very best but after teaching for over 30 years, I can tell you that it is a wonderful and rewarding journey.

Whenever your calling feels hard, just remember, 'He who began a good work in you (and in the children you serve) will be faithful to complete it.'

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