DIY Light and Shadow Cards

We recently checked Henre Tullet’s “The Game of Light” out of the library and it has become an instant favorite in our house! It’s such a simple but brilliant concept: each page has a series of cutouts, so when you shine a light through them, it projects fun shapes onto your ceiling! It feels so magical, and it’s such a lovely way to calm down before bedtime. I only wish I knew about this book when they were newborns!

As much fun as we’ve been having with “The Game of Light,” after a couple weeks the crafty mama in me started itching to create my own light and shadow cards with a bigger variety of designs, and here is the result!

How to make

DIY Light and Shadow Cards

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Step 1- Gather your materials

You will need:

Black card stock

A black pen (or printer)

A craft knife

Cellophane sheets

A cutting board or mat

A glue stick

A laminator (in my opinion, this little guy is a great deal and a million times worth it, but if you’re not interested, clear contact paper would be a good alternative)

If you want to design your cards on the printer and then print the designs directly onto the cardstock, that’s an option. I’ve made a few sample designs and a blank template that you can use.

Click to download- Light and Shadow Cards

Obviously- if you have a cricut- I’m super jealous of you right now. It would be a ridiculously awesome tool for this project. Do your super cool cricut thing and skip directly to step 5.

Step 2- Cut your cardstock into quarters

This step is optional- you could make full sheet designs, but to make them more manageable I chose to make each card the size of a quarter of a sheet of paper

Step 2- Draw your design

I used black pen to design my cards so if I made a mistake it would barely be visible. I did some sketching and redrawing on several of my cards before I was satisfied, but the mistakes are very subtle on the finished product and won’t be noticeable in the dark.

As you draw, make sure to think about what areas to leave as black and where you want the light to shine. It will be possible to have black shapes “floating”- more on that later

Step 4- Using a hobby knife, carefully cut out your design

Then carefully pop out the shapes

Step 5- Add colored cellophane

This step is, of course, optional, but it’s part of what makes these cards so fun!

Colored tissue paper would work as well, but the light that shines through it won’t be as clear

Measure your cellophane by placing it over the card and tracing around the area you’ll want it to cover. Make sure to leave extra where it can be glued to the black card

Measure and cut out any additional colors

Then use a glue stick to secure them in place

Step 6- Laminate

It would be possible to use your cards as-is, but they won’t be very durable, so if they’re going to have regular use by little hands, I would highly suggest laminating!

I believe that a piece of contact paper or adhesive self-laminating sheets would be effective for this, but I would recommend a heat-sealing laminator, preferably a style where you can place the cards in a pouch to feed them through. Personally, I LOVE my little scotch laminator– it was a great value and I’ve used it on so many projects! (You can see me gush more here and here!)

Place the cards carefully in the laminating pouch so there is a little room between them. Feed the pouch through the laminator carefully as well- you may have to support the end as it starts running through the laminator so the cards don’t fall out of alignment.

Cut the cards apart when you’re done.

Step 7- Find a flashlight, turn off the lights and

Enjoy the light and shadow show!

We’ll be using them at bedtime, but they could be used in so many places, including;

-on a light table

-in a sunny window indoors

-taped to a car window for fun on the go

-in a classroom

-in a children’s museum/library/playspace

They can also be used for different purposes, including,

-to reinforce academics (you could make cards with numbers, equations, or sight words!)

-to prompt storytelling (make cards with characters or depicting scenes)

-make cards with symbols that represent songs, and project them while you sing each one

A light and shadow card on a light table
(Don’t have a light table! Making your own is easier than you’d think! Check out my tutorial here: EASY DIY 2-in-1 Light Table and Sensory Bin!)

The hardest part for me was coming up with designs! My sample card shows a sunset over the ocean. Here are some other designs you might try;

A howling wolf

A tree at sunset

A sunny morning

And, of course, a firefly!

What light and shadow cards will you make? How will you use them?

Leave a comment and let me know!

For more  ways to soothe your tiny people at before they go to sleep, make sure to check out my list of favorite bedtime stories (they’re amazing!), or you might consider making them a DIY Baby Stargazing Box (my babies LOVED it!).

Want more magic in your life? Subscribe to our email list, follow Firefly Magic on Instagram or  Pinterest, like our Facebook Page or join my Facebook Group. an interactive forum where parents and teachers come together to discuss awesome activities for kids! Whichever platform you prefer, I look forward to sharing more exciting ideas with you!

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