We love our light table. There is just something about things that light up that make them more exciting. So, when our preschool ordered some tabletop light tables- I was psyched! I knew exactly what I wanted to do – create some light table activities for my littles!
Ever since I got a light table in my classroom I’ve been collecting transparent manipulatives for children to use on it. I’ve got a pretty decent collection going of see-through blocks, glass pebbles, transparent counters and pattern blocks, as well as some adorable transparent pet and dino figurines (from Target Dollar Spot years ago).
I have my light table available at all times in the Science Center. I like to trade out the manipulatives provided every week or so, as to keep it interesting!
After several years of light table fun, I wanted to share with you my 10 favorite light table activities. Because some serious learning can be had by providing some manipulatives and supports!
10 Engaging Light Table Activities
- Simple Sorting: A variety of manipulatives can be sorted. So, I like to provide sorting mats for children to sort the manipulatives with. Depending on the manipulatives and the age I am working with I provide a sort by 2, 3, 4 or 6.
- Color Sorting: I love to use colored transparent counters. They are so versatile! The easiest way to use these counters is to sort them by color. So, I provide a color sorting mat to help guide the activity. You could also use colored cups (or clear with a colored circle on the bottom).
- Patterning: The colored transparent counters are also great for patterning. This could be done using ice cube trays or egg cartons. But, I usually like to start a pattern and have students extend it. So, I provide multiple patterning mats to aid in pattern making. We also like to make patterns with pattern blocks (the translucent ones are cool!).
- Letter vs Number Sorting: This is a skill that sometimes gets overlooked, so I make sure to make it a light table activity. Using a sorting mat, children sort a large(ish) set of transparent letters and numbers onto the mat.
- Letter Matching & Fill in Missing Letter: Making sure that children see the differences in letters visually will help them later recognize and name the letters. So, I like to have children match letters to a letter mat. Many times, children will have to rotate or flip the small letter manipulatives to match the letters on the mat.
- Fine Motor Lines: The fine motor lines I like to provide to students are just like the ones you’d use on regular paper, but instead I like to print them on overhead projector sheets (I used my Inkjet printer). A dry erase marker can be used to trace along the line. Or, sometimes I like to provide small translucent materials for children to line up on the lines.
- Paths: Paths are kind of like mazes (but with out the challenge of going the wrong way!). Paths are more about the fine-motor control it takes to get from one end to the other, than the brain challenge of a maze. I like to provide paths for students to trace inside of with a dry erase marker or to use transparent table scatter or small manipulates to line up along the path.
- Shape Tracing: Using a dry-erase marker and a transparent sheet (or laminated paper), tracing on the light table becomes an exciting activity. I provide my children with shapes to trace or fill with other small manipulatives.
- Letter or Numeral Tracing: Just like the shape tracing, we also trace letters and numerals. I always start with providing the first letters mats of each child’s first name. Another fun way to use these is to use glass pebbles or translucent table scatter to create the letter/number.
- Pattern Block Pictures: Since the translucent pattern blocks are so cool, I also like to put out some pattern block picture mats. Children match the pattern blocks to the mat. These type of pattern block mats help children learn geometric principles.
I found that by changing up what I had available (as far as manipulatives and support mats go) my light table never got dull. I also love that this is a center that children can complete without my guidance and for some children becomes a quite engaging time.
Looking for the mats shown in the photos above?
You can grab the Light Table Activity Mats in my TpT Store!