DIY: Giant 4x8 Lite-Brite

We held our first EXCITE NIGHT on Saturday, April 16th - the theme was #GlowParty. When we began to brainstorm ideas for this event, the first thing that came to my mind was a Lite-Brite:


This was THE toy when I was a kid. I remember my sister had one, but she didn't like to share it.

As I began to plan out Excite Night and come up with ideas, I thought it would be great to talk about John 8 where Jesus says, "I am the LIGHT of the world."

When I hear this verse, I always think of Genesis 1 where God says, "Let there be light." It's interesting to me because God said "LET THERE BE LIGHT," and Jesus in a sense replies, "I AM the LIGHT!"

I wanted to really drive home this illustration and so work began on building a giant Lite-Brite. For the sake of research, I had to buy a Lite-Brite, but it ended up being a cool giveaway for EXCITE NIGHT so it served a dual purpose. 

Several years ago, Pastor Christian (Lead Pastor of Exponential Church in Port St. Lucie, FL - also my Youth Pastor), demonstrated the physics behind the feeding of the 5,000 in Matthew 14. He used a giant 4x8 whiteboard to write it all out. Here's a grainy picture: 

To build our giant Lite-Brite, I took this frame and gutted it. First, I bought a 4x8 sheet of pegboard at Home Depot and over 600 pegs on eBay. It's hard to find the original Lite-Brite pegs in stores, but they fit the best in the pegboard. We also had 6 LED bars that were being used for our eStudents stage design so I took those and used them to illuminate the pegs. 


The perk of using a pegboard is that it has a built-in grid - the pegs. So I counted out, found the center peg and then I fasted a sheet of plywood to block out the middle and create 2 smaller squares to work with. This also helped to really push all the light to only shine where I wanted it. Here are a few pictures of that process:

After this, I gutted the white board frame, installed the black pegboard, and then I installed the lights. The perk of these LED bars is that they power link together via IEC cable so I only had to run a few short cables between each light and then one main extension cable to power the entire board. We angled these lights to point towards the location of the pegs to make sure all of the light pointed inside of the frame. 

For designs, I thought a sun would be great since that was what God referred to in Genesis 1, and for the other side, I designed a Cross since that's representative of Jesus. So after a few hours of pushing over 600 pegs into this board - and a few sore fingertips - we had our design completed and set. To be sure we contained as much light as possible, we covered the back and the empty holes with black paper. Here are a few more pictures: 

When the night came, we brought the Lite-Brite onto the stage during a transition video and it stood towards the back until I was ready to turn it on. When it came time, we turned the stage lights down and plugged in the Lite-Brite:.

Our original plan was to bring this up to eStudents for our students to play with and create their own designs, but the frame was way too large to maneuver up the stairwell so we had to dismantle it. BUT this is a simple design and can cost $40-$50 to put together.