Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sensory Light Table: Art & More!

I can't remember how I came across it. I'm sure it has something to do with Pinterest. But I'm not sure what I was looking for exactly when I came across the Play at Home Mom Blog. Oh my, my, my, what an amazing blog! A million ideas for things to do with young children. I'm been struggling a bit with my two year old boy. I'm used to girls. I have two older girls and as toddlers they were relatively calm and at least had a small amount of attention span. I was able to read with them, do little art projects, puzzles, etc. My boy. He's totally different. He's constantly moving around and I can hardly keep his attention on anything for more than 20 seconds before he just gets aggressive with it and starts throwing things or just walks away. It has been very frustrating for me as a mom because I feel like I've turned to the television too many times for him because I just don't know how to entertain him myself.

Then, I came across posts about using a light table/panel with small children. Holy cow!! BRILLIANT! I've NEVER heard of this or seen it before. And the idea of it is simply amazing. There are so many ideas you can do with it from art to literacy to math to simple play. I really feel like this would be something my son could FINALLY get on board with. I think the added feature of the light shining through is a great sensory experience for him and one that will help keep his attention focused to the one area. Anyone who follows me on Pinterest will see that I have created a light table activities board and have been obsessively googling and blog hopping this weekend reading up on the subject. I wanted to immediately purchase one online (there's a great one on sale at Constructive Playthings right now!). I rattled on about light tables and all their activities to my husband all weekend and he politely listened, but convinced me to wait until the middle of the week to purchase. I have this habit of getting obsessed about something and then I "need" to have it "right now". He's good at grounding me. ;-) So I agreed to wait. Lo and behold, my birthday was Monday and what did I open? A light panel!!! He took our daughters out on Saturday and I knew they were birthday shopping for me, but I had no idea they were going to get me this! It was from the Lakeshore Learning store near us. They also gave me some colored discs to use with it. I was soooo excited. And we have been playing with it all day!

I started off Tuesday morning by setting it up like this for my son. He's not really into color sorting yet, but I decided to separate some out anyway. When I went into the basement to get a sterilite bin to put on top of the panel, I found the Nemo wheel and thought it might be visually interesting. And that's my daughter's glitter wand in the middle.
My son LOVED it! He spent at least 20 MINUTES pouring the discs back and forth between the cups, moving them around, checking out the wand. It was amazing! He came back to it a couple times throughout the day as well. Then as soon as my daughters got home from school they got in on the fun.
I added some plastic bottles with colored water to match the discs. What really SHOCKED me was my 8 year old! She was totally into the light panel! After my son was done, she continued on. She likes to organize things. She split all the discs up into their colors in different cups.
Then she made her name with a pattern:
I guess I shouldn't be too surprised she liked this activity. As a small child, she had a lot of sensory issues, many of which she has outgrown or is able to self-regulate. But she still needs a bit of time (as most children do) after school just to herself to relax and calm down from the day. I think this was a perfect thing for her. After she was bored of the sorting, I showed her how it could be used more for artistic endeavors. She got her lettering stencil book and some paper and started creating a picture.
My younger daughter (age 6) got in on the action as well and enjoyed using the stencils with the light panel.
Before we retired the light panel for the afternoon, I sent the girls down into the basement to look through all the play things down there. Their assignment was to see what they could find that might look cool on the light panel. Here's what they came up with:
There's a dolphin key chain, a kaleidoscope disc, a marker, some marbles, pirate treasure gems, a beaded necklace, some painted clear rock magnets, and more! I really cannot wait to do a million more activities on this. And we didn't watch television AT ALL this afternoon!

I also introduced ziploc window painting today. Although, we didn't do this on the light panel, we could. I hung them up on our deck window instead. Be sure to check the next post out. When we weren't using the light panel, we were window painting! It was a purely light sensory kind of day!

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