Light Box Magic

Teach kids about light refraction with this fun science experiment for kids.

light refraction experiment

Also let them watch this video to find out how people use light refraction to light their homes!

To learn more go to 1 Liter of Light.

How to Make a Sunlight Box:

You’ll need a big box, plastic water bottles, duct tape, scissors, and kids of course!  Optional: Paint, Paintbrushes, Food Coloring, Bleach, Foil, Cups that fit over bottles.

light refraction for kids

Step 1: Let the kids paint the box!

light refraction for kids

light refraction for kids

light refraction for kids

light refraction for kids

Step 2: Fill the bottles with water.

For more fun add food coloring to some of the bottles.  I recommend regular sized bottles; around 16oz. Mine were a little small.  (If you are going to keep them for a while then you can put bleach in them, but I would skip it.)

light refraction for kids

Step 3: Trace

Trace the bottom of the bottles on the top of the box and cut holes.  Put tinfoil on the top of the box to help the light reflect into the bottles.

light refraction for kidslight refraction for kidslight refraction for kids
light refraction for kids

Step 4: Make a Viewing Window

Cut a hole in the side of the box to look inside.  I recommend cutting a smaller window or just eye holes.

light refraction for kids

Step 5: Let the experimenting begin!

Push bottles into holes and have the children take turns looking in the viewing window.  My daughter Audrey put her hands over the bottles to create a “light show” and I brought some cups out to make it easier.

 light refraction experimentlight refraction experiment

light refraction experiment

light refraction experiment
light refraction experiment
light refraction experiment
light refraction experiment
light refraction experiment
light refraction experiment
light refraction experiment
light refraction experiment
light refraction experiment
light refraction experiment
light refraction experiment
light refraction experiment

The Science behind it:

When light from the sun hits a solid object, like the cup, it is absorbed.  When light hits the water in the bottle, it bends in all different directions.  It bends because the water makes the light slow down.  This is called refraction.  The water makes the light spread out in the box.  I also gave the example of being by the pool.  I told the kids we have to wear lots of sunscreen by the pool because the water makes the light spread out and we can burn easily from the light.  You can also show the children what the light does when there are just holes in the top of the box and no water bottle.

What do you think about this experiment? Have you done an experiment with light refraction?


A Liter of Light needs your help to bring an even better light solution to people around the world!  Do the experiment above in your school or home and go to their website to learn how you can help!

For more exciting learning activities,
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  1. What a cool experiment! Definitely going to pin this so I remember to do it with my girls.

  2. Melissa Ray says:

    This experiment was great, and the kids LOVE it!!
    Thank you,

  3. That is so cool! Thanks for sharing at the Pomp Party! Pinning to our Pomp Party board!

    Jill @ Create.Craft.Love.

  4. What a cool experiment! I’ll be showing this to my husband this weekend.

    Thanks for linking up to our Finished Friday blog party.

  5. Neat! oh my boys are going to LOVE this!! Adding it to my Summer’s “to do list” ;) TY!

  6. I LOVE this! What a cool experiment. I can’t wait to try this with my kids.

  7. wow! this is so cool! newest follower. Thanks for stopping by my blog to say hello. it’s always fun to meet another Janine -or- Janiene :) hehehe


  8. This is really cool. I couldn’t tell what was going on initially, so it was fun to see it all come together.

  9. This is awesome! I am starting homeschooling this fall so I saved this to my favorites for future reference.

  10. These look like a lot of fun! My daughter really loves exploring light, so I’ll have to give this a try. Thanks for stopping by Homeschool Mo! Following back, but by RSS feed since Google Friend Connect is so weird these days.

  11. How fun ! My boys love experimenting with light, and I can see this being a big hit. Thanks for sharing.

  12. This is so fun. I’m always looking for fun ideas and experiments to do with my three boys. I can tell they’ll really like this one.

  13. I love this idea!! I am going to pin this on my Pinterest board….thanks so much for linking up to A Marvelous Mess!!

  14. Hi Janine, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

  15. I want to try this!!!! The kids can even play with me too!!! Thanks for such an amazing post!

  16. What a fantastic idea…can’t wait to try this with my twins! Thanks so much for sharing with the Weekly Kid’s Co-Op…i’m pinning it to our board this week!

  17. Hey there! Love your blog! I found you via the MMM blog hop and just added myself to your followers! Also I wanted to invite you to come enter a fabulous Steve Madden giveaway I’m having right now!!
    Hope to see you there! And thanks so much lady!

  18. This sounds like so much fun!!! Thank you for sharing it, I pinned it to my Pinterest to help me to remember!

  19. Oh this looks like such a fun activity! Thanks for sharing it!!

    I would love it if you would share this post on the Back To School Monday Homeschooling Link-Up! I really think my readers will enjoy it!

    Susan Godfrey
    Finding Beauty –

  20. What a cool science lesson! I love the way the light bounces on the walls! Thanks for sharing at tip toe thru tuesday!

  21. I can’t wait to try this experiment!

  22. This is so cool! What a fun idea! Thanks for sharing!

  23. What a fun project for kids.. Love it.. I’m pinning it. Thanks for linking up at friday fun party

  24. I’ve never seen this before. Good I can now use my left over boxes from moving for my daughters. It’s a very cool idea. I have to add too that your pictures are great!

  25. You’re being featured on Saturday Show & Tell this week! I’d love to invite you to share this on the Summer Activities for Toddlers Collection Summer Link Up Collection!

    Thanks for sharing last week; hope to see you again this week!
    Mackenzie :)

  26. What a fascinating experiment! I loved that video too. How amazing, using natural, essentially free items to solve a problem! Thanks for sharing with us at Trivium Tuesdays!

    • Hi Amy, I’m glad you liked it. The kids really liked watching the video and seeing people using what they had created. It also help start conversations about being thankful to God for what we have because other people can’t even afford to light their homes.

  27. I just loved this idea so much that I had to feature it as my spotlighted project of the week! Swing by and grab a button when you get a chance!
    Tip Toe Thru Tuesday linky

  28. I LOVE this idea!! I’m going to feature it on my PreschoolPowolPackets Facebook page–thanks so much for sharing it at Teach Me Tuesday!!

  29. What a fun interactive experiment. This is the kind of project your kids don’t even realize they are actually learning something because they are having so much fun doing it!

  30. OMG!! This is a very beautiful experiment and I know that the kids had so much fun doing this. Thanks for sharing and thanks for stopping by my blog. I look forward being part of your blog..

  31. Thank you for this! My son is a science nerd and loves doing experiments. I’m pinning this for future reference (it’s winter here at the moment and not too sunny – this will be great over the summer holidays!) Thanks for visiting Maker*land and following along – I’m returning the favour and will be sure to visit often. Cheers! :)

  32. That is a brilliant experiment! I shall be having a go at this one.

    Thanks for sharing on Family Frolics!

  33. Very cool and so simple to do with materials on hand. Thanks for the great idea!

  34. How fun! And the results were beautiful too! Next time I get my hands on a big box we might have to try this out!

  35. That’s a pretty cool experiment!

  36. This is a super fun idea!!

  37. That’s a cool activity!


  1. [...] 15, 2013 by Janine LaTulippe Leave a [...]

  2. [...] Light Box Magic Your kids will learn about light refraction with this low cost science experiment. [...]

  3. […] about sun light and light refraction, and I am sure kids will be amazed by what they will see in this cool experiment. In addition, we […]

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