Holiday lights, Lite Brite, and even basic flashlights bring us back to memories of childhood. The magical lights of shooting stars and fireflies remind us of the freedom we once knew to discover and wonder and dream. Light illuminated inspires young minds. Add this inspiration to a fort with light table activities and you capture this essence. Endless amounts of dreaming and creativity take center stage. Create both of these elements at home with ease. Grab a Fort Magic kit to spark imaginations, and dreams become a reality.
Be sure to construct a large enough fort to accommodate the light table and the number of children that intend to play in it together. Bumping into the fort or each other proves a distraction to all the fun. Also, when building a design to accommodate a light table, have the kids consider ways to darken the fort’s interior, even during a sunny afternoon. Heavy blankets or fabrics that block out light create a cave or den-like space perfect for light illumination. Consider closing curtains within the fort building room and blocking light leaks with design elements such as pillows. While light tables prove fun in most levels of light, darkened spaces add to the magic. You might even suggest starting light table projects outside of the fort space. Then gently pull the table into the darkened space to reveal a delightful sight. Modifications made to the masterpiece with the interplay of light and darkness adds another dimension.
Now, what about that light table? While these cool furnishings are available for purchase on the ever-at-your-service internet shopping scene, you can create a light table at home with little expense. Building your own with wood and plexiglass remains an option if you are handy. Consider a clear storage box with strings of holiday lights for creativity on a moment’s notice. No matter the construction of the light table, be sure to consider the number of children playing at one time. While taking turns with a small surface teaches valuable lessons, sharing the space with friends adds elements of socialization and fun as well.
With the combination of fort and light table, the learning continues. Consider a few of the following ideas to inspire activities of your own. A clear glass baking dish, whole milk, food coloring and liquid dish soap (and maybe something to protect the floor) bring science to the fort. Adding the light table to this rainbow milk science experiment allows the colors to pop with illumination. Each creation proves unique. The added bonus is that when one project gets muddy, simply dump it out and try a new color combination. A similar concept with melting ice and color glows even brighter on a light table in a darkened fort. You can create fizzing colors by adding food coloring dyed vinegar to baking soda on a clear plate. Hands-on science experiments engage kids. When it comes to tactile experiences and kids, the messier, the better.
Translucent colorful geometric shapes spread across the light table find their way into a design as kids learn math skills. For younger children, ask them to name shapes as they place them in their design. As older kids play, create or find designs made of shaped pieces and encourage kids to copy the pattern. Speaking of patterns, having kids work with these sequences of shapes builds logic skills. Create the start of a pattern and ask your child to complete it. For a twist, reverse roles and be the one to complete your child’s pattern.
Find translucent letters and let your little ones spell away. Make an activity out of practicing for an upcoming spelling test, or include secret grammar lessons in sentence completion games. Add a game of hangman to engage school-aged children of all ages. A thick layer of shaving cream or pudding (for those still wanting to taste everything) becomes a slate to practice words or writing. Letter recognition, spelling and even sentence formation become fun on this smooth surface. Sand or salt supply the same lesson opportunities with a different texture.
Remember the glass baking pan from the above science activities? Don’t return it to the kitchen just yet! Put it on the light table. Add a thin layer of bubble mix dyed with tempura paint and blow with a straw. The bubbles and light dance together. Catch them on a piece of thin paper or vellum. The resulting design lights up on the table as well. Kids love to trace. Doesn’t it make us all feel like artists? Coloring book pages and internet-printed images placed between the light table and a piece of tracing paper pops the image for your Picasso to trace. A large piece of paper lets kids trace various images into a scene of their choosing.
Forts and light tables speed learning along at the speed of light. The fun of this combined activity offers lessons galore and encourages kids to dream and learn with little prodding. In fact, you may not see them for days. How do you incorporate light tables into fort building? Share your ideas with us below!
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