How to Make a Dimmer Switch Story Dial for Your Kid's Bedroom

'Day Night' Dimmer Switch Dial
Lights on: Sun in the sky
'Day Night' Dimmer Switch Dial
Lights dimmed: Sun starting to set
'Day Night' Dimmer Switch Dial
Lights off: moon in the sky

Mesmerise your kids by turning their bedroom dimmer switch into an interactive story.

With the lights on, a cardboard dial displays a picturesque daytime scene… as the lights are dimmed, the sun in the picture begins to set, until the picture reveals a night sky with moon and stars!

Step by step guide

If you’d like to make your own ‘dimmer dial’ follow the instructions below. First, let’s take a look at the approach as a whole

Exploded view
'Day Night' dimmer switch dial: illustration 1

It’s simple, really… just a circular dial and a cover all made from cardboard.

Prepare materials
'Day Night' dimmer switch dial: illustration 2

STEP 1: Cut two discs from corrugated cardboard, one 94mm and the other 98mm in diameter. In the centre of the smaller disc (Disc 2) cut out a hole, it must be small enough to fit tightly over the dimmer switch knob.

STEP 2: Take the other disc (Disc 1) and use a craft knife to cut out a large ‘pie shaped’ hole, use the measurements shown.

STEP 3: Cut two strips 320mm x 27mm from thick card (210gsm) and join them end on end using glue - this is the side strip.

Make the cover
'Day Night' dimmer switch dial: illustration 3

STEP 4: Apply glue along the edge of Disc 1 and attach the side strip.

STEP 5: Print the Disc 1 artwork onto card… ergh! Unfortunately, I’ve lost those files… so you’re going to have to get the colouring pens out! Place Disc 1 face down onto some white paper, or ideally light card stock, and trace around it with a pencil. Draw your scene on the card, use my illustration as reference.

STEP 6: Trim around the artwork and glue it onto the front of Disc 1.

Make the dial
'Day Night' dimmer switch dial: illustration 4

STEP 7: Print out disc 2 artwork… ergh! No artwork sorry… instead, place disc 2 onto some white paper, or light card stock and trace around it. Draw a ‘night & day’ sky scene onto it, with the sun and moon on opposite ‘sides’, remember, the disc rotates, so becareful not to end up with an upside down sun or moon!

STEP 8: Cut out your masterpiece (including the hole) and glue it onto disc 2.

STEP 9: Cut out two ‘tabs’ from the thick card, fold them in half and glue them to the top and bottom of the cover.

Assemble it
'Day Night' dimmer switch dial: illustration 5

STEP 10: Turn the light on and push disc 2 onto the dimmer knob, sun at the top.

STEP 11: Place the cover on top, attaching the two ‘tabs’ to the wall with tape or poster putty (Blu Tack).

Operate it
'Day Night' dimmer switch dial: illustration 6

That’s it, just dim the lights (12) and watch the moon appear (13).

materials

  • Rotary dimmer switch!
  • Thick and thin card
  • Paper glue
  • Craft knife and scissors
  • Pencil, ruler and eraser
  • Colouring pens or paints

Creative Takeaway

Moving objects, even the humble dimmer switch, can be hi-jacked in order to use the movement in other more creative and unexpected ways.

Is there something you do with… a door, window, tap or the wheel on your bike?