Magic torch and reading

A few weeks ago, I made a 'magic torch' to show my son how one of his books works (and that it's science of reflected light rather than magic!).  At the time, I combined it with learning about nocturnal animals, and he still plays with it occasionally to find the animals hidden in the night scene.
Finding Alphablock 'a' with the magic torch

When I found a black A4 sheet of cardboard in a cupboard and a box with a big sheet of clear plastic at the front, I decided we could use the 'torch' with a wipeable board to practice reading.  We do a bit of phonics as my son has shown an interest in learning to read, and he's pretty keen on the CBeebies Alphablocks programmes.  I therefore drew some of the Alphablocks on the plastic with wipeable pens (the ones we've got are Crayola and they wash off with water, but dry wipe pens would work too, they'd just be a bit more likely to be rubbed off during play).  I wanted to get him interested in using the magic torch setup, but it was pretty time consuming drawing Alphablock characters.  Still, he loved it and played with it for a while, telling me the letter names and their sounds.

Finding the word 'stop'

As he'd got into using the new magic torch sheet, I asked if we could try some words instead.  He was keen, and I went with some transport-themed words which are phonically regular e.g. red, green, black, stop, van, truck.  He's keen on transport, and loves playing with toy vehicles, and he was really excited to find the words and sound them out.  He kept whizzing the torch around and shouting things like "black van" or "red truck" as he read two words in a row.  After a while he asked for some new words, and he dictated what some of them should be e.g. I'd missed amber off the traffic light colours the first time around as it's harder to read, but he wanted it.  He had another 15 or so minutes of playing with it and his toy vehicles, and then opted to do something else.

Reading the word 'amber'

We'll return to this another day as it was definitely a fun way of encouraging some reading.  There are many other ways you could use this to engage a child in something else that you would like them to focus on e.g. sight words, shape recognition, foreign language words, number recognition or finding the answer to sums.  It also took me literally 5 minutes to make (the torch is just a circle of white paper or cardboard stuck on black cardboard).