Friday, May 21, 2010

Stripe Lights

"A school needs to be a place for all children, not based on the idea that they are all the same, but that they are all different."

-Loris Malaguzzi (founder of the first Reggio Emilia School)

Reflective light has been the subject of discovery and object of fascination for the children for quite sometime. A few days ago we decided to experiment and play with sand on top of the light table. The children begun to explore the sand, perhaps attracted by the light that shined through the plexi glass… The explorations involved their entire body moving it up and down from left to right in rhythm with the sands movement. They used their palms, finger tips, elbows and different objects to move it around. The light created some dark and light shadows that altered the appearance of the sand.

I had prepared baskets with glass prisms, agate slices and natural shells to be used with the sand if the children chose too. The first child used the natural seashells and discovered that when rolled on top of the sand it left beautiful soft stripes of light. His attention is fully captured; he notices the stripes of light peaking through the sand and yells out, “GUYS come here! Have you ever seen a beautiful design like this before?” The emotional reaction to the discovery of the “stripe lights” spreads across the room. Everyone loved his amazing discovery and asked him for a live demonstration. He gladly gave one with a big proud smile on his face while his admirers looked and learned.

Let us not forget that children are clever and capable. Yesterday, I was reminded that I should change the color of sand in order to make it more fun. “You never know Ms. Maria; it might make the light shine more,we should experiment. Let’s use purple today and maybe green tomorrow.”

It is probably one of the most powerful memories that the children and I will forever treasure. Why not simply, let go of a set curriculum and things that make us comfortable, it diminishes the excitement and wonder from each child. They have to make those discoveries in order for learning to take place.




  1. WOW! I love this idea! I think I'll have to make myself a light box too!

  2. We use our light box a lot ... why have I never thought to do this before?!? I LOVE IT!
    Donna :) :)

  3. Our favorite thing to do with the light box at the moment.

    @Laura- you of all people could definitely make one.I love what you do with the children, love reading your blogs.

    @Donna-I really, really love it myself.Thanks:)

  4. I love this activity but how do you color the sand? Just food dye or powdered poster paint or what?ThanksLouise

  5. Hello! Sherry and Donna commented on a post about a sand lightbox we made, and thus introduced me to your blog! I'll definately be subscribing! The sand you are using with your lightbox looks lovely and fine. Ours was course stuff out of the sandpit in the back yard. I think I definately need to find some fine grade stuff after seeing the level of detail you can get with it!

  6. I love this!!! What did you use to cover the table so that the light still shone through? I want to try this on Monday!!

    Thank you for a great idea!

  7. I am also curious about what you put between your light table and the sand. I'm worried that the surface of our light table would get scratched up or that the sand would get inside.

  8. I covered my light table with a white plastic trash bag. Some lucky children will be having fun on Monday!

  9. Oh my goodness, we did this today in class. I had a light purple plastic table cloth and red sand. The kids LOVED it!! I never had a chance to put any implements out - the kids used their hands only!! Overheard:

    "Hey, it looks like blood"
    "I have blood!"
    "I have blood too"
    "Me too!"
    "Me too!"
    "Me three!"
    "Me four!"

    Then another little guy comes in and says...."It looks exactly like hot hot lava!"

    The kids had so much fun, I took a lot of pictures and can't wait to write their story tomorrow!

    Thank you so much for an amazing idea!

  10. Please send me a link if possible. I would love to see your pictures.How exciting!

  11. Maria, I am sorry, but I can't post the kids pictures. Our preschool is pretty strict when it comes to kids pictures. We have a waiver for our City's publicity purposes only. I can only put the pictures up on our classroom walls....

    I do have a picture of just the "blood" sand...that is kinda cool.

  12. I am loving your ideas. Just asked my husband to make me a light table :)I am your new biggest fan!!!

  13. Hello, I love your light table and the different things that can be done with it. Can anyone tell me how to make a LIGHT TABLE I am so interested.
    It would be great if someone can email me the directions if possible.

  14. Wonderful!! I want to know how to do it too!!! Please HELP!!

  15. what do I want to look for in a light table??