Graphing with the Lite-Brite

It’s not just for playtime anymore!

Drag out the old one, pick up a used Lite-Brite or grab a brand new Hasbro Lite-Brite.

Or… click to get the online Lite-Brite simulator (the technology these days!). And get ready – because that old classic is about to become your child’s favorite graphing lesson!

1. Draw a picture on a Lite-Brite template.

Download the Lite-Brite Classic Template if you have the classic toy. If you’re using the new one or the simulator, get the Lite-Brite Square Template.

Draw a picture on it in pencil. Here’s mine:

2. Determine the best peg placement.

Rough sketches don’t quite work with the peg placement. So draw the peg holes on the template as close to your lines as possible. Start noticing patterns.

3. Use colors!

Pick some good colors you’ll want to use when you’re graphing your picture. Unless you and your kids know the exact number of Lite-Brite pegs you have, in which colors, you’ll probably have to tweak this in the next few steps.

4. Figure out where to start

Here’s where things get very interesting. The peg holes are not lined up in what you would call a Cartesian coordinate plane. They’re not really in any kind of coordinate plane system. At least not that I know of.

The crazy structure in the grid doesn’t really matter. The fact that you can still count over and up to get where you want to go is what matters.

You and your children get to devise the way you count over and up.

5. Count and push!

Your child can follow the pattern on the template and push the pegs in the Lite-Brite. This offers practice for the skills they’ll use when graphing and working with the slope of a line. This is the precursor of calculus!

Notice that when I was graphing my drawing, I had to change the door from solid to hollow. I ran out of pegs. #ARG

Try it!

Find your Lite-Brite and download the template: classic or square. Post a link to your finished work in the comments and tell me how it went!

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