Monday, December 13, 2010

Making Things With Light

Lite Brite was the toy that made it tolerable to visit the homes of girls during the late 60's and early 70's. (The Easy Bake Oven also had a lot of appeal, but the girls I knew were always out of batter mix, a crushing disappointment which typically lead to deploying her stuffed animal collection as projectiles in an "animal fight.")

This is why one of the first toys I bought my own daughter was a Lite Brite, in this case the super special cube model that allows up to 4 children to make "things with light" all at once. Certainly there is nothing innately feminine about the product, but even when I break it out at school in a world existing some 30 years in the future of the original TV advertising blitz, it still tends to attract more girls than boys.

We long ago ran out of those little pre-cut black paper squares to overlay the light grid, but have found that black construction paper works just fine, although without the convenient little pre-printed white dots the kids have to hunt around for the proper place to insert the light pegs, but they've proven they can manage it. And those pegs provide solid fine motor practice, not to mention the patterning play.

I've found I need to duct tape the cube to the table top to prevent it from sliding around as kids go at it from all sides, and you'll notice (if you look carefully) that I've also duct taped a rim of wood sticks around the edge of the table to reduce the risk of all those little pegs getting scattered all over the floor -- it still happens but not so prolifically.

But the most heartwarming thing about our Lite Brite is the reaction of the moms as they spy it in the classroom, especially if they're the lucky parent-teacher in charge of it for the morning. Most of them are so delighted they sing:

The kids are lucky to have a teacher who, for the morning at least, is a child herself.

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Amy A @ Child Central Station said...

We absolutely love our light bright! We have the cube and some of the horizontal versions as well. Any color of construction paper works well. We often use blue, purple, green, or dark red. The different colors give a different effect. Most construction paper is thick enough that any color really works :). We've also done some crayon rubbings over the side to make a pattern that shows where the holes are for the children who struggle with finding them without that first. Happy Continued Light Exploration!

Play for Life said...

Can't say I've ever seen a 'Lite Bright' before. I know we're a little behind here in Australia but surely not by 30 years or so ... and Tom as we're the same age, my guess is it never did make it down under. It look to me like something straight out of the T.V. series 'Lost in Space' ... now THAT definitely made it in Australia!
Donna :) :)

Darcey said...

I loved playing with my Lite Brite. I only had the horizontal version back in the 80's. I'm glad to see you've brought them in your classroom for the children to enjoy. I didn't know anyone still used those, but they are fun!

Dawn said...

light bright at my dayhome is soooo fun ! we love it .... i had one as a child and your right ... everytime i haul it out for the children i find myself humming that commercial .... it provided an endless opportunity for me a child... thanks for the sparking my great memories of this toy...
light and peace...