Magic e and infrared camera

My eldest son is really keen at the moment on learning to read, and I'm attempting to get my head around phonics as he learns, mostly with the aid of Alphablocks.  He's particularly engaged either where the words are things he wants to be able to read, like the vehicle words we did with our 'magic torch' or where he learns something that suddenly makes sense and he wants to keep practicing.

One such recent discovery that suddenly seemed to make sense to him was 'magic e'.  This is an e which, although silent itself, changes the pronunciation of the preceding vowel such that it 'says its name rather than its sound' e.g. the difference between bit and bite or hat and hate.  For those more familiar with phonics than myself, magic e is an example of a split digraph.  A digraph is two letters, either consonants or vowels, which together make one sound (in Alphablocks terminology, these are 'letter teams' e.g. sh, ai).  A split digraph is where there's a consonant in the middle of the letters that form the digraph.  I've not attempted to use the digraph terminology with him, but I've included it here in case you're familiar with it, but not with the idea of magic e.  Anyway, the magic e idea suddenly clicked with my son and he was really excited to watch the Alphablocks episode several times and then try sounding out some different words with and without the e.

The word 'tap' becomes 'tape' with magic e

I had an idea for a fun way to play with more 'magic e' words, making the e disappear by viewing the word on an infrared camera.  We've played with infrared before using our baby monitor camera in infrared mode, finding things which look black to the eye but white when viewed on the camera e.g. one of his soft toys.  Some black pens absorb both visible light and infrared, and others only absorb infrared so you can create drawings which disappear when viewed in infrared.

Our video monitor, like many others, switches to infrared when the visible light level drops below a certain level so you have to make it sufficiently dark for this to work.  We built a little den from sofa cushions for the purpose!

The word 'bite' and on the monitor screen it appears as 'bit'

I wrote the words we were going to read together such that the part before magic e was in black Sharpie (which absorbs infrared light) and the magic e itself was in Crayola washable felt tip (which doesn't absorb infrared).  You may need to experiment with the pens you've got yourself to get a combination which works.

We had a look at the words in the light, and my son read them.  Then we put the word in the darkened den and had a look at what appeared on the baby monitor screen - the magic e had gone!  He read the word without the magic e.  He enjoyed himself and I ended up writing out more words to play with.  It was a nice way to combine remembering some science he'd enjoyed learning about a while ago with reinforcing a new thing he'd learnt about words.