I am finally happy with my hundredth version of a homemade light box. These things are very expensive, and I kept trying to make something that I’d be satisfied with. After looking at how others do it and gathering lots of tips and ideas, here is my final version of it.
Buy a plastic container. The size depends on you, really. I’d say bigger is better in this case, it will allow you to get into messy activities without having to worry about the spilling too much. Or if you have more than one child, it will give enough room for them to play together. Ideally you should buy a container with a matte lid, but I was never lucky to find one in the size that I wanted. Eventually I gave up and taped parchment paper to the side of the lid that stays inside the container. Tada, it did the trick. Then line the container with foil, it will keep all the light inside, and maybe even help with making it brighter if you use the shiny reflective side of it. Everyone has Christmas lights, so no need to invest in special LED lights, besides, I could never really find the ones that I was happy with, and wasted a lot of money on them. Maybe I just didn’t find the right ones. That’s it. No need to drill holes in the container, because the cord can be used even with the lid closed.
Now, what can you do with it? Pretty much everything, according to this link that gives you some ideas, I will pick a few for you to try:
I made my daughter a tutu. It was so fun and gave me an opportunity to get creative. Never knew I would be able to make one. Turns out I could, and you can too.
I didn’t want to order the materials online and wait indefinitely, and instead went to Walmart. What do you know, they sell tulle rolls in the crafts/fabrics section. I decided to go for a ribbon-tie version instead of elastic waist with my first tutu. I figured that when she gets too big for her tutu, I can always untie the knot that holds it together, and loosen the material a bit to make it wider for her to keep wearing it. And I just loved the idea of having this pretty ribbon bow in the back. BUT THEN I made my second tutu for fun with the advice I found online to use an elastic hair band (the kind they sell in packs anywhere, dollar stores included). I was impressed, it was also very easy and if you have a small and super active child, it’s perfect. Just keep tying your tulle around the hair band, and it is stretchy enough to fit different waists. I used a ribbon at the end, just tied it like the rest of the tulle to the elastic, and made a bow out of it. It was very simple. My daughter is 3.5 y/o, and I decided to make her a tutu with 3 colors. Her waist was 21″ and tutu length 10″. I also wanted a really full and fluffy tutu, and bought 3 rolls total in blue, purple and pale pink. Surprisingly, I managed to make 2 tutus out of these materials, and roughly 60 tulle strips per tutu. Then I bought some white ribbon. Took me 1.5 hours to complete this project with 2 tutus. I think if you are making a longer and much fluffier tutu, you will end up using close to three rolls per one. And without the ribbon it is even cheaper.
I used this tutorial, highly recommended. Simple and easy to understand.
I made my kids a geoboard, and I am super excited and super proud of myself. I had no idea what the thing even was a year ago. And when I found out about it, it was all I could think about.
Here is a rough idea what it is, from Wikipedia:
“A geoboard is a mathematical manipulative used to explore basic concepts in plane geometry such as perimeter, area and the characteristics of triangles and other polygons. It consists of a physical board with a certain number of nails half driven in, around which are wrapped rubber bands.”
I finally found the time and enough motivation to throw everyone in the car, go to Lowes, and find a perforated hardboard (as it is known over there). Unfortunately these don’t come in small sizes and I ended up purchasing a 4′ x 4′ board, which they kindly cut for me right there. That cost me about $8. Then I bought a pack of 80 nuts and bolts that fit through the holes in the board, and actually ended up using all 80 for my 2′ x 2′ board. These cost me $9. I had to buy colored rubber bands in the office supplies section at Walmart for under a dollar.
The whole project cost me $18, and took about an hour to screw everything in. I still can’t feel my fingers 2 days later, but kids are so excited that it was totally worth it. I also ended up with three extra board pieces, but I am sure I can use them, somehow, in the future.
At the moment my 3.5 y/o just tries to make different shapes, separate them by color on the board, and even play some music with the stretched rubber bands. With time we will start introducing more complicated shapes, letters, etc. I will need to do more research myself to learn about other activities it is helpful with.
I highly recommend this, it is so fun that even I am tempted to play with it a bit here and there.
What to do when it is cold outside, but little hands are looking for something messy and creative to do? This is what we do. It is simple, tasteless (so no one would be tempted to eat too much of it), and fun. Small kids can use it as finger paint, older kids can use brushes. All you need to do afterwards is change their clothes and rinse the tub.
Warning: Because there is cornstarch involved, the paint should be used shortly after it has been made, and is cool enough to handle. The longer it sits, the thicker and harder it gets. From my experience anyway.
Other alternatives for this activity could include shaving foam with added food coloring, or plain yogurt with coloring (I choose plain to avoid too much sugar in our diet).
Let me share something we did yesterday, and still enjoying the results today. The idea came from The Imagination Tree but I thought I’d post our own photo here, to prove that it actually worked out quite nicely. It was very easy and my 3 y/o loved helping me cut the shapes and then decorate them with icing. Except, by then both my children were more interested in ingesting the icing rather than decorating the cookies.