Make your own DIY lightbox, with tons of ways to play, from the Screen-Free Mom!
There is something about Christmas lights that just makes kids happy. If only they could play with them without the danger of eating them or breaking them!
Here’s a solution: Create a DIY lightbox and let them explore the lights and do a little learning while they are at it.
Super Simple DIY Lightbox for All-Ages Learning Fun
This DIY lightbox is so incredibly simple to make.
Make your own DIY lightbox:
- clear storage bin with a lid
- Christmas or fairy lights
You just throw the Christmas lights in there, drill a hole for your plug, a few extra holes for ventilation and you are done.
Learn more about creating your own lightbox.
Our 4-year-old and 1-year-old both love this and it is a great tool for sorting and tracing.
4 Creative Ways to Use Your DIY Lightbox
DIY Lightbox Color Sorting
Mostly our 1-year- old likes to put different objects on the lightbox and watch the light shine through.
He is plenty busy just using the lightbox as one tool in free play. He silently puts all sorts of different things on it.
I am sure he’s learning without any additional input needed from me.
However, I did print out a color sorting sheet to put on top. I have started talking to him about the colors and he enjoys putting different objects into the circles, which is great fine motor practice.
My 4-year-old loves doing the color sorting as well, even though it is no challenge for her.
DIY Lightbox Letter Writing
Our DIY lightbox is an excellent tool for moving to free letter writing. It can be used as a transition between tracing and free writing.
Just take any page of letters or workbook page and put it on top of the lightbox. Add a plain piece of paper over it and the child can “trace” away.
We like to use this for card-making too. Our 4-year-old loves making cards for friends and family.
I can write out the words (i.e. Happy Birthday Pop-Pop) on one sheet of paper and she can place her sheet over that. She feels very proud about making a card independently!
Lightbox Number Writing
If it’s numbers you are working on, use a number page over the lightbox. Your kids can trace the numbers and sort objects into numbered piles.
Try another way to trace and learn numbers.
DIY Lightbox Tracing & Coloring Pictures
This is one of our favorite uses for the lightbox. Even though your child is tracing pictures and not letters or numbers, don’t think they are not learning transferable skills.
This activity promotes fine motor practice and pencil control.
Give them any color picture plus a blank piece of paper and let them trace away.
Trace your child’s name with this fun activity!
Bonus: Pretend Play Doctor
Here’s a bonus way to use a DIY Lightbox: as a lightbox for X-Rays in pretend play.
Our 4 year old loves playing doctor and we recently got her these great X-Rays. T
They really light up nicely when laid over the lightbox. (You can get X-Rays like this on Amazon, affiliate link)
Screen-Free Mom is a psychologist who is happily raising her two kids sans screens. She runs Screen Free Parenting where she writes about the effects of screens on children and provides tons of screen-free alternative activities. She has developed a system to help organize the activities she believes young children learn and grow from: the S.P.O.I.L. system. Before you turn on the screen, she asks, “Have you SPOIL-ed your child yet today?". You can follow Screen-Free Parenting via her website newsletter or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.