In this activity you can listen along to a story about the Northern Lights. We have also provided some suggestions for a sensory tray to help you explore and play with light in your home. These sensory activities have been developed to support individuals with PMLD, SLD and sensory processing difficulties. 

Collect materials from around your home to create a sensory experience. You could add your own items to the tray too. 


You will need

A plastic tray, torch, tinfoil, shaving foam, paints, black card, sponge and cellophane.

This is a guide and will depend which activities you decide to try. You may also want to switch out some of these for other items you have at home. 

  • Torch
  • Coloured cellophane, or plastic bags
  • A dark room, or space
  • Tin foil
  • Fairy lights, electric tea lights, or other lights you have at home
  • Mirror (any size)
  • Spinning colour wheel (instructions below)
  • Black paper or card
  • Paint (white, purple, green, blue, yellow)
  • Dish sponge (with a scratchy surface)
  • Shaving foam (not gel)
  • Shallow dish

Listen along to this story by Olivia Armstrong.

Depending on your child, you could watch the images in the video, just listen along, or even download the transcript and read it for yourself. 




Create your sensory space

You can create a sensory space and sensory tray to go alongside this story. For some children, this may help to explore the story and bring it to life. 

To get the best experience from playing with light, we recommend finding a darker space. You could dim the lights, or you could create a den with blankets to keep out some of the light. 

Scroll through these activities to see our suggestions for playing with light. 

Play with coloured light

Cut up some pieces of coloured cellophane or old, coloured, plastic bags. Try shining your torch through these different plastics.

What colours can you make?

Do some plastics work better than others?

What happens if you overlap two different colours of plastic and shine your torch through them?

A torch is shined through yellow and blue cellophane onto a black wall.
Play with reflections of light

Bring a mirror into your darkened space. Collect different types of light. For instance, fairy lights, a torch, an electric tea light. 

Place your lights in front of, or on top of, the mirror. What reflections can you see? Do different lights reflect differently?

Now replace the mirror with tin foil and try these activities again. Has anything changed? Is the tin foil or the mirror better at reflecting light? Which do you prefer? You can play with tin foil when it is smooth and flat, or try scrunching it up to see what difference this makes. 

Three tea lights are on a mirror and a torch shines on crumpled tinfoil.
Play with painting light

You can create your own images of light, inspired by the Northern Lights. 

Use a dish sponge with a scratchy surface, and coloured paints, to create different textures on dark paper or card. 

Try dabbing the sponge on to the card, and then sweeping it across the card. What happens to the textures? Do they look any different? Which creates a better image of the Northern Lights? Try other ways of playing with the paint and the sponge and see what patterns emerge.

White paint has been flicked onto black card and someone is using a sponge to add more white paint.
Play with light inspired patterns

Fill the bottom of a shallow dish with shaving foam. Add drops of coloured paint to the shaving foam. Then use a stick, or something similar, to pull the paint through the shaving foam. 

Play around with colourful patterns inspired by the movement of the Northern Lights. 

By placing a piece of paper on top of your shaving foam pattern, and lightly pressing down, you can create a copy of your pattern. Make sure to scrape the shaving foam off your paper when you remove it from the dish. 

Purple, blue, green and yellow paint is mixed into shaving foam.
Explore colour

Use a colour wheel (instructions below) to explore colour. 

Create a colour wheel

A colour wheel is a great, hands-on way to explore colour together. 

Holding each end, create circles with your hands, as if you are holding a skipping rope. Then suddenly pull the string tight, and send the colour wheel spinning! 

Do the colours look different when it spins?

What do you notice about the colours now?


To create your colour wheel:

You will need

A4 piece or card

Something to colour with: pens, pencils, crayons, paint



A piece of card, a pair of scissors, string and crayons.
Step 1

Cut out a circle, roughly 3-4 inches in diameter.

A circle cut from card with a pair of scissors nearby.
Step 2

Cut out a smaller circle in the centre, roughly 1 inch in diameter.

A circle cut from card with a smaller circle cut out from the middle.


Step 3

Split your circle into six sections.

A piece of card cut like a doughnut has lines drawn to create 6 segments.
Step 4

Colour each section in using colours from the rainbow.

a doughnut shaped piece of card with 6 sections coloured in using blue, pink, orange, yellow, green and purple.
Step 5

Cut a long piece of string and tie the end together to create a loop.

A long piece of string with both ends tied together to create a loop.
Step 6

Place your looped string through the hole and hold each end and it is ready to use!

a doughnut shaped piece of card with 6 sections coloured in using blue, pink, orange, yellow, green and purple. A loop of string has been pushed through the hole in the centre.


Did you enjoy the story?

You can listen to this story again and again and try different activities each time. 

You could create your own sensory experiences for the story, or perhaps next time you will just listen to the story and watch the pictures. There is no right or wrong way to enjoy this story!