“Look! It lights up!” As soon as we plugged in the light table, the children’s eyes lit up just as much as the table did. They were immediately drawn to the table and its sensory appeal. As we sat at a distance and observed the children explore the table and the translucent shapes that glowed on it, we discovered the many different ways in which the table appealed to the children.
The lit-up table in the dim, post-lunch quiet environment in the nursery’s preschool classroom, added a whole new element of sensory input. The colors of the shapes became more vivid and their different sizes and characteristics suddenly became more noticeable to the children. One of the boys recognized each shape not only by its name, but also by its size. “Big Square! Small rectangle! Big triangle!”. He was thrilled that there was another dimension – the various sizes – to the shapes guessing game, that it looked like he had played before. He was excited by the challenge. He was soon interrupted by one of the curious three-year old girls who discovered the light switch. “On! Off! On! Off!” The two of them then excitedly took turns, while their gaze was fixated on the appearance and disappearance of the light the entire time.
While observing them, we forgot how long we had been watching them. We noticed it had been fifteen minutes. The light table had managed to grasp the attention of these children for a much longer time than some of the other activities they chose to engage in during the day. They voluntarily collaborated, taught each other the different things that interested them about this sensory environment, and shared the shapes and switch without complaining at all.
I expected this exercise to turn out to be an excellent source of visual sensory input, which it most certainly did; but it surpassed my expectations in the socio emotional and cognitive benefits it demonstrated. It proved to be a beautiful, inviting learning space for the children. I can’t wait to set it up in a different environment with different accessories and observe how else it tickles the children’s intellectual curiosities.