Light Table Sand Art
We took a shallow translucent box and sprinkled some colored sand (of the type used to fill sand art bottles)on the bottom. We placed that box on one of our homemade light boxes. It was beautiful. Then we used our fingers to draw in the sand. The children loved it. They played over half an hour making designs on their own. We tried two different colors.
When they tired a bit of playing on their own I decided on a whim to use it to illustrate a story. I told the story of Goldilocks and the three bears. When we talked about the three bowls of porridge I made a table and one small bowl in the sand, one medium one, and one large one. I did the same for the three chairs and the three beds. The children loved it! Then I attempted a modified version of Hansel and Gretel and we made a trail of breadcrumbs through the sand forest. It was a nice language arts extension activity for the sand art on the light table.
Light Table Silly Spheres
I'm not sure what to call these. We got ours from a teacher supply store and they were called Slippery Spheres (I think). I called them silly spheres with the children. I think they are the same thing you can buy at craft stores that some people use to fill vases. Ours were tiny little plastic beads that absorb water until they are something like 100 times their original size. I got them because I thought they would work well with the light table and they would be a good sensory experience for Ava.
Eventually I want to work up to making a lot of them and having the children actually submerge their hands in them, but I started slow. This first time we just took a few of each color and watched to see what would happen to them if we put them in water. Once they were finished growing they were cool and wet and squishy. They bounced if dropped onto the light box. The kids would let them "swim" in their cups and then dig them out with their fingers and play with them on the light table for a while before returning them to their cups to swim some more. Michael liked to pretend that they were alive and tiny creatures he was taking care of. Ava accidentally squeezed one too hard and squished it. We threw that one away.
Supposedly you can leave them out to dry and they will return to their original state for you to use again in the future. 8 hours later, ours are only a little smaller. I'm beginning to wonder if that part is actually true. Even if not, it was still a great activity and I'm looking forward to revisiting it with a greater quantity of the silly spheres next time.