Using Light Tables to Engage the Special Needs Learner

My love of yard sales is nothing new.  I spend all winter long making lists of things I need to shop for during the summer…..all at rock bottom (and sometimes even free!) prices.

One item on my list for this year was a light table for Parker.  I thought it was a long shot…..finding a good condition, used light table in my price range (cheap) at a yard sale.

Never say never, baby.

For the PERFECT price of ONE buck I found this beauty:

Hello, Gorgeous.  Come to Mama!

Let the learning begin! 

Parker has loved this little device. With it we’ve covered all kinds of concepts.

We’ve used it to review and introduce alphabet letters, and practice name and sight word spelling.

We’ve used it to explore and mix colors.

I even have a few Science experiences planned using our light box.

The only thing that’s throwing me in regards to using a light box is finding manipulatives (see through letters, numbers, shapes, etc.) that are big enough for little fingers with small motor skill issues.

If you’ve had any success with finding a source for these…..PLEASE let me know!

Until then I’ll share this suggestion from Deborah Nickerson, a special needs Mama extraodinaire.

I found the colored film at the office supply store. I’ve also seen it at art supply stores. If all else fails, contact your state’s Department for the Blind. They may be able to steer you in the right direction. Light boxes are HUGE in the world of vision impairments!

We’ve had so much success with this small light box that I’m dreaming of purchasing a larger one to set up for Parker to use on a daily basis.  I’d change out activities on a regular basis.

Some places you can find the larger light boxes: (warning…..some of these prices defy belief….)

Discount School Supply

Discount School Supply  (smaller version)   I want a set of the clear toys this kid is using with this light box.

And for the DIY lovers amongst us:  DIY: Making a mini-light box for preschool

So….what things are you finding to be amazing tools for use with your special needs learner?

PS:  Whadda ya know.  Discount School Supply carries LARGE COLORED TRANSLUCENT LETTERS!

About Tammy and Parker

Special Needs Blogger, and homeschooling Mom, heavily involved in advocacy for all kids with special needs in Utah.


  1. Hi. I am the mom of a very healthy 9 year old boy with Down syndrome. Every time I read your blog it reminds me to be thankful for all of my many blessing but especially for his good health. If you will email me your address, I will send you a set of those clear toys that you want for your sweet boy. Please consider it my Christmas present. I don’t know you, but I am amazed by your strength. You are a good example to me and help me strive to be a better wife and mom. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful things you do!

  2. Google the play at home mom blog – they have lots of ideas. Xxx

  3. Stacy says:

    I found this tutorial a while back for making a light table from a coffee table. I was thinking that if you found one of those coffee tables that has the glass insets all you would need to do is remove the glass and put in squares of frosted plexiglass. Would save the trouble of cutting and framing out the table.

  4. At work we use the rubbery window clings. The light shines through, they stick where you put them, peel off easily and can be used over and over. You can use them on the light box or on a window. I got most of ours at a dollar store. Shapes, letters and holiday motifs are fun. Oh, and they are washable! That’s important to me since one of our littlest patients keeps wanting to taste them.
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