You can buy light boxes but almost all of the posts I have read from mums around the world use a homemade version, and that is exactly what we did. I used a large, long and low, plastic storage box and two sets of fairy lights which I also bought Ikea. The lights were battery operated so I simply spread them out in the box and set the lid on top. I was impressed with how much light the fairy lights gave off, and although I had initially thought about adding more, the two strings were plenty on their own. I have seen people use sheets of white paper on the storage box roof to give an even 'spread' of light, however I liked the idea of having areas which were brighter than others so decided to leave the lid clear.
You can add anything to a light box, however I decided to keep it simple for our first attempt. Isabelle adores water beads and I thought that their translucent appearance would make them perfect for light box play. I also added neon shot glasses, some of her Ikea plates and cups and glow sticks. I had meant to include our sensory blocks, however in all the excitement these got left out.
I set the light box up on our tuff spot to ensure the water beads didn't spread too far, and set the whole thing in out living room with the blinds and curtains shut. As it is getting lighter and lighter these days, I decided to do the activity after dinner to get the darkest time before bed.
Without a doubt, this is one of our most successful activities ever! Isabelle absolutely ADORED it, and she played for an hour with her light box and materials, and seemed to have a blast.
I had assumed she would be worried, scared or cross about the lights being off but she didn't utter a word about it and went straight to it to play. Having the light box being the source of light for the whole room really changed the look of all her play things and seemed to draw and hold her attention more than 'normal' conditions. The neon glasses glowed, the water beads seemed to twinkle with light, and their colour changed depending on which glass they were put in to. I really loved how something as simple as changing the lights in the room gave everything such a vastly different look. As we usually play during daylight, or with the overhead light on, the light box not only lit up all her toys, but also cast different shadows and generally made our whole session look so much different than normal.
Mostly, Isabelle played with the water beads by putting them into the glasses, cup and bowl. She enjoyed pouring them from one glass to another, and cramming them into the small spaces of the shot glasses. She made 'drinks' for Simon and I, and a bowl of 'snacks' for Simon too (doing this, she sang "Drinks and snacks, drinks and snacks, everybody loves drinks and snacks"!). She pushed the beads about with the glow sticks, and then pretended the glow sticks were straws through which she could drink her drink. (Obviously glow sticks should not be put into mouths, and so her straw use was short lived). I couldn't believe how well occupied she was, just playing the the beads on the lid.
She then spent ages filling up her bowl, then the glass, and enjoyed sticking the glow sticks into the beads to have them stand up straight. For me, the best bit was hearing her narrate her play. She chatted the entire time she played, giving us a blow by blow of her every move, and chatting with herself about what was going where, and what everything was. Another favourite activity was stacking up the shot glasses, over and over again. I was so impressed with her hand-eye coordination, especially in the diminished lighting.
Isabelle also really loved the glow sticks, and we had our own mini disco with them! I put on some music and she and I had a rave around the living room, dancing and waving our glow sticks like 80s dancers. It was so much fun, and Isabelle even said to daddy "Party's in here!" so she was obviously having a great time! It was the closest I have been to a night club in a long time, and the neon shot glasses only added to that!
Overall, our light box to explore the sense of sight was a big success. I can't wait to explore more activities with light boxes in future, and I have a feeling they are going to be featuring a lot in our play - especially next winter.