Explorations with sunlight are often overlooked. From simply observing shadows to discovering the reflective qualities of a watch, disco ball, CD, or mirrors outdoors can fascinate, engage and ultimately teach a child a lot about the word around them.
Exploring sculpture with coloured transparent materials is a unique and beautiful way to learn about light refraction and coloured shadows. We love these size and colour cubes which are gorgeous, strong, vibrant and open-ended resources.
Similarly, our transparent 3d geometric solids (here on Amazon) are incredible both in natural sunlight and on the light table. These are lovely, high quality, fill-able educational resources. We love them as an educational sensory material. They are the perfect introduction to the concept of volume relationships. These see-through coloured geometric solids are a great hands-on learning tool to explore 3 dimensional geometry.
A simple exploration of colour and light is to fill clear containers with coloured water on a white surface near a window:
What’s the big deal is with light tables? For me, it’s primarily about sensory exploration and adding another dimension to play & learning. My favourite element being that they can sometimes see through the art/experiment/play materials which allows for further exploration and engagement.
I got our light table when Cameron was a toddler. It would be impossible to show you all of the great opportunities and experiences we have had with light, so bare with me while I let the photos do most of the talking:
Shapes on the translucent geoboard (or Amazon US)
Constructing with coloured plastic shot glasses from the dollar store
Water colour painting
Blowing bubbles in coloured soap mixture
Spraying coloured vinegar on baking soda
Building with transparent Magnetix
We love exploring x-rays on our light panel (tuck in the table legs and place upright).
This is perfect for both pretend doctor play and for learning about anatomy.
You can purchase these here in Australia, or on Amazon:
The most popular post I have written on light is Exploring Light, Shadow & Reflection and has many inspiring ideas for light exploration and discovery based learning with artificial light.
It’s great to remember that artificial light exploration doesn’t have to include light panels or tables, or overhead projectors. Add reflective materials (disco balls, CDs, mirrors, etc) to a basket with a torch and you have an invitation for an engaging and meaningful learning experience.
I love that the overhead projector super-sizes the light experience and can even transform an entire play area into a new ‘world’ with projected backdrops or a large shadow puppet theatre.
- Considering your child’s interests and how they like to play, what kind of light exploration could you create for your child?
- Gather together some reflective materials, some small mirrors if you have some to create an exploration using natural light.