Shine your light

  • In moments of worry and sadness, it’s so easy to forget all that is right and bright in the world—and in you.

    A shadow box night light can help you remember that even in your darkest days, there is always light to be found.


  • STEP 1 OF 11

    For this project you will need:

    Paper or journal and something to write with

    A small box — at least 4″ x 4″ works best

    A small flashlight or LED tea light

    Decorative papers, magazines, and other collaging materials

    Materials for creating your miniature scene, such as: felt, pipe cleaners, air-hardening clay, cotton balls, sticks, small stones, shells, miniature animals, trinkets, etc. (for inspiration, check out Joan Steiner’s Look-Alike books or Usborne’s Making Models


    A pencil or ballpoint pen for poking a hole into your box

    Glue, glue stick, or Mod Podge & brush

    (optional) Paints & brush

  • STEP 2 OF 11

    After assembling your box, cut off the top flap so that it’s completely open on one side.


  • STEP 3 OF 11

    If you want to, you can slide the cut flap inside your box to create an extra thick platform for your scene (see photos).


  • STEP 4 OF 11

    Using your pencil or ballpoint pen, poke a hole into the top of your box.

    The hole should be large enough for the bulb of your LED tea light to fit through, or for the light from your flashlight to shine through, but not so large that they fall inside your box.


  • STEP 5 OF 11

    Before you start creating your scene, let’s spend some time exploring ideas.

    Inside a journal or on a piece of paper, make a list of things you love about the world.

    What do you find beautiful?
    Waterfalls? Horses? Dogs? Oranges?

    What do you find fun or exciting? What are some things you like to do?
    Play music? Hang out with friends? Go for bike rides? Make art?


  • STEP 6 OF 11

    Now make another list, this time of all the things you love about you.

    What makes you unique?

    What are some things you’re good at?

    In what ways are you strong?

    What are your gifts?  Gifts can be special talents and they can also be qualities like being a good friend.



  • STEP 7 OF 11

    Last step before you decorate your box:

    Look over your list and write or draw any visual ideas that come to mind.

    For example, if you love the ocean, you could draw fish. If you’re a kind person, you could draw a heart.

  • STEP 8 OF 11

    It’s now time to bring your ideas to life!

    There is no right or wrong way to make a shadow box. Here are some things you can try:

    —You can paint the inside or outside of your box.

    —You can use magazine images or decorative papers to create a collage.

    —You can use clay, pipe cleaners, cotton balls, fabric, moss and other materials to create a scene.

    —You can use air-hardening clay to make small animals and objects.

    —You can experiment with materials you find around your home or yard (and be sure to add a photo of your shadow box to our gallery so we can be inspired by your ideas!).


  • STEP 9 OF 11

    Here’s something else you can add to your shadow box: words!

    Look again at some of the ideas you wrote down. Is there an idea in there that you want to include on your box?

    You can use pens, paint, or words cut from a magazine to add your words to the inside or outside of your box.

    Or, if you just want to remember the words, but would rather not make them part of your scene, you can also write them on the bottom of the box — a secret message just between you and you.


  • STEP 10 OF 11

    And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for!

    Find a dark space, turn out all the lights, and turn on your shadow box night light.

    We recommend spending a few minutes imagining yourself tiny and walking around inside your scene. Let your tiny self find a place to sit and relax a while.

    Take a few deep breaths as you remind your tiny self of the words you wrote. Stay as long as you want, and come back to this place anytime you need a reminder that there is always light to be found in the world—and, most importantly, in you!


  • STEP 11 OF 11

    Want to share your shadow box night light in our gallery? What a bright idea ; )