17 Bright Ideas for Using Tap Lights in the Classroom

Let these little lights shine!

Tap Lights in the Classroom

You’ve probably seen tap lights (also known as push lights) at the dollar store but haven’t really thought about how you could use them in your classroom. But there are so many clever ways for teachers to use these nifty lights in the classroom. Here are our favorites.

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1. Use them to signal appropriate volume levels.

Tap Lights in the Classroom

This is the classic project that first brought tap lights to the attention of many a teacher. We love how this version uses Bitmojis too! (Can’t find these large lights at your dollar store? Buy them on Amazon. )

Learn more: Miss Tech Queen/Instagram

2. Signal when you’re not available.

Remind students that you shouldn’t be disturbed when you’re working with small groups. “When the light is ON, it’s a visual reminder that I can not be interrupted except for emergencies. But when the light is OFF, I am available to answer their nonemergency questions. Works like a charm!”

Learn more: Love for Elementary/Instagram

3. Use tap lights for bathroom passes.

Tap Lights in the Classroom

This makes it really easy for you to tell when someone is out of the room. You can add additional lights for things like the office, nurse, or library.

Learn more: Keeping Up With Mrs. Harris

4. Indicate when a classroom bathroom is in use.

If you have a classroom bathroom, tap lights are a simple way to tell if it’s currently occupied.

Learn More: The Left-Handed Teacher

5. Know when small groups are finished.

Tap Lights in the Classroom

Give small groups lights to push when they’ve finished an activity. (You could also give them a “question” light to get your attention if they need you.)

Learn more: Head Over Heels for Teaching

6. Provide cell phone guidance with tap lights.

Tap Lights in the Classroom

Make it easy for your students to know whether they can use their cell phones. We’re not promising they’ll follow the instructions, but you can at least try! (Buy a set of red, yellow, green, and white tap lights here.)

Learn more: Cara Uhrich/Instagram

7. End unwanted interruptions.

Tap Lights in the Classroom

Post one of these tap lights outside your classroom door and light it up when you’re taking a test, doing silent reading, or any other task that requires uninterrupted concentration.

Learn more: Clever Classroom/Instagram

8. Remind them to ask others for help.

When you want to encourage them to work together, turn on this Ask 3 Before Me tap light. It reminds them to ask three other students for help with the answer before coming to you.

Learn more: Fairwinds Teaching/Instagram

9. Create a solar system from tap lights.

This is SO COOL. Use paints to turn your tap lights into planets and the sun. What a terrific way to learn about the solar system! (Buy an 8-pack of small tap lights here.)

Learn more: Play at Home Mom LLC

10. Match upper- and lowercase letters.

Tap Lights in the Classroom

Grab some letter blocks or write the letters on sticky notes. Then, lay out several underneath the tap lights and have kids press the lights for the two that match. Try this with numbers and number words or ten frame cards too.

Learn more: Literacy and Math Ideas

11. Learn letter sounds with tap lights.

Tap Lights in the Classroom

Lay out picture cards with tap lights and have kids push the right one when you ask “Which word starts with D?” and so on.

Learn more: A Little Learning for Two

12. Light up your phonics practice.

Tap Lights in the Classroom

Use tap lights to talk about segmenting words into individual sounds. Have kids choose a word, then tap each light as they say the individual sounds that make up the word.

Learn more: Mrs. Ricca’s Kindergarten

13. Use tap lights for CVC words.

Tap Lights in the Classroom

Add CVC to your tap lights and use them with alphabet blocks or magnets to practice consonant-vowel-consonant words.

Learn more: Elizabeth Barber/Pinterest

14. Add a nonworking E for CVCe words.

Take the batteries out of a tap light marked e to remind kids that although it changes the sound of the vowel in a CVC word, it doesn’t make a sound itself. So smart!

Learn more: Blog Hoppin’

15. Work on sight words.

Write sight words on tap lights with dry-erase markers. Then post them around the room and send kids off to find and push them as you call out the words.

Learn more: Play at Home Mom LLC

16. Set sensory bottles aglow with tap lights.

Give your sensory bottles a new twist by adding a tap light! Hit the link to learn how it’s done.

Learn more: Tea in the Wild

17. Customize your reading nook.

Add some light to your classroom reading nook with these cuties that spell READ!

Learn more: No Time for Flash Cards

Teachers love the dollar store, and so do we. Here are 100+ Dollar Store Hacks for the Classroom you’ll be dying to try.

Need help controlling classroom volume levels? Try these Classroom Noise Monitor Apps.

Posted by Jill Staake

Jill Staake is a writer living in Tampa, Florida. She's spent most of her life teaching in traditional classrooms and beyond, from 8th grade English to butterfly encounters, and believes learning is a life-long process.

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