I think we purchased our light table in 2007. It wasn't in photos before and then it was in photos after. We have changed the bulb(s) twice since we've owned it. We began sourcing materials in earnest that would be suited for light around 2007 as well. Those are all just checklist items that don't really matter because in the end, that glow began lots of other conversations between light and shadow. We began our collections for the light table by simply transferring items that we had that were either translucent or colorful from the shelves to the light table. We found that the children were also interested in the tactile quality of materials, so we began looking for materials that would add to the visual information -- wood pieces, bathmats, table place mats. Most of these we find at thrift shops, but also home goods stores. We also made materials using paintings or art paper, cutting shapes and then laminating them. The collection is a growing thing, but the single most expensive thing remains the light table itself. No regrets.
We have no regrets for this large purchase, because the light table is a horizontal surface in the room which isolates information in just the right way. We use it to draw attention to the children's symbols -- upon arrival, they pick up their name/symbols to place them in the daily plan, "I am here." We also use it at as a teaching tool.
The light table is a familiar fixture. It is always there. Although materials are specifically selected and offered there, children often bring materials from around the classroom to intermingle. Then, since this source of light from below is so familiar, it becomes a natural segue to exploring and seeking out other light sources.
This year we added "light from above" to create a quiet play space within the classroom. It is very much there, but somehow, because of the light and the mirrors, it becomes a space removed from the noisy activity of the room.
Light is about the isolation and layering of visual information. We learned that children will naturally seek out texture. It is then a simple transition to layered artwork.
Sourcing materials for the light table is something that involves both children and adults. During a recent trip to Community Forklift, I found CIRCLES -- only an early childhood educator knows how hard it is to find recycled/found materials in shapes other than square and rectangular. These glass tiles were top dollar ($7.50 for a 12'x12' sheet), but worth every penny. The children also could see the beauty in them and got right to work separating the tiles from the webbed background. Side note: these will not be put out onto the shelves until next month or perhaps even in January. If you think children are all about the "I have to have it now," think again. These two were pleased to have accomplished an important task. When the tiles find their way to the shelves, think of how these two will feel!
The best and largest haul was found during a trip to Portland Oregon. Andrea and I were there for the Parent Cooperative Preschools International Annual Meeting and who knew we would come upon the largest treasure trove either one of us had ever seen! We have since learned that some of pressed glass and plexi samples can be sourced to 3Form after a former parent gifted a sample pack from 3Form to the school.
I want you to imagine this though in the meantime...Andrea and I filled our suitcases to the brim. In fact, Andrea had to move a lot of her clothes OUT of her suitcase into a carry-on bag. Each of our suitcases came in just under the 50 pound limit. We cried because we could not take more home. Cried, I tell you. What we had to leave behind will haunt our dreams forever.