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Leisure

Teach Your Child to Do Magic Tricks

There is only one thing more delightful than seeing a magic trick- and that’s performing a magic trick! With a little help from you, your child can learn a few simple tricks and begin to amaze his friends and family.

Magic and magicians have entertained and astonished audiences for centuries. Magicians were regular attendees at the courts of kings and queens, as royalty and guests alike enjoyed watching a coin reappear or a bunny turning into a dove.

Of course true magic lies under a code of secrecy and silence, but the tricks included here fall under the category of illusions and thus can be shared.

What makes a good magic trick? When the audience is left in disbelief- wondering, “How did she do that?”

Preschool-3rd

Very young children love guessing which hand an object is in. Have them put a coin in your hand. Put both hands behind your back. Drop the coin on the seat cushion behind you. Hold closed hands in front of you and ask them to pick which hand the coin is in. Of course it will be in neither hand, but your little one will have fun trying one hand after another and wondering, “Where did it go?”

For your young child to be successful at a magic trick, you have to perform the trick several times first, then patiently walk them through the steps. Remember to use a little drama, some magic words and encourage them to do the same. That’s all part of the magic!

This trick is easy enough for most four and five year olds, and comes from children’s author Laura Torres. It’s called “The Jumping Rubber Band Trick”.

This trick will make the rubber band appear to have jumped from the index and middle finger to the third and fourth fingers of the same hand. You need a rubber band about two inches long, or loose enough to hang slightly from two fingers. The steps:

Put the rubber band around the bottom of your index and middle finger. Show the audience the back of your hand. Now make a fist with that hand and say some magic words, swirling the other hand around the trick hand. Open your hand and the rubber band has “jumped” to the pinky and ring finger! How?

When you make the fist, put all four fingers through the rubber band. Keep your fist down so no one can see the fingers wiggling. When you open your hand the rubber band jumps right to the other fingers.
With a little practice, this will fool and amaze your friends.

Your child will love going to a real magic show and will give him or her a better idea of how effective and puzzling magic tricks can be. Finding a good website for magic supplies and books can get you started on this fun hobby. Just remember that your child will need many tries before being successful at a trick, but once they pull off their first real trick, they’ll be hooked!

Main points to address:

  • Try a few simple tricks with your youngster.
  • Teach them one or two “easy to manipulate” tricks.
  • Remember to be mysterious, using magic words and sounds.
  • Go to a real magic show so they can feel the thrill themselves.

Grades 4-6th

Older school age children can manage more difficult tricks. Their patience, manual dexterity, and ability to follow several steps will make it possible to increase their repertoire of magic tricks.

Card and coin tricks are very popular with elementary children. Helping your child learn a few of each will get them started and make it easier to teach themselves using a good Internet site or book of magic tricks from the library.

Card tricks that involve no sleight of hand are best for kids this age. Teach them a few “mathematical” card tricks that will leave the audience wondering what the secret is.

This trick comes from Dave at Layhands.com, and is called “10 Cards”.

Turn your back to the audience and ask one person to think of a number from 1 to 9, but not say it out loud. Then tell him to deal that number of cards facedown in a pile on the table. Tell him to do it quietly so that you don’t hear how many cards are laid down. Tell him to look through the remaining cards in the deck and find a card (suit doesn’t matter) that has the same number as the number he thought of. If the secret number is 5, for example, he would pull out a 5 and put the rest of the deck on the table face down. Tell him to memorize the card then put his card face down on the top of the deck and cover that card with the small stack he dealt first.

Now tell him to deal the cards from the top of the deck face down, calling the name of each card as he deals it. Ignore the first card, then mentally count 1, 2, 3, and so on as he calls out the numbers.
When he calls out a card that has the same number as your mental count, memorize that card (for example 5 of clubs). Let him call out a few more cards until he has at least 10 cards, then tell him to stop. With your back still turned, tell him his card is 5 of clubs (or whatever you memorized). Sometimes there will be another card that matches your mental count. If he says you are wrong on your first guess, tell him the other card that matched your mental count.

Of course this trick will make more sense after you try it and are successful, but can you figure out why it works?

One coin trick that is fairly easy and once learned will puzzle the audience comes from the website “How to Do Magic Tricks”, listed below. You will need to practice this trick first with a cooperative friend until you get the technique of slapping the table down. It goes like this:

You will need two different kinds of coins, for example a nickel and a penny, one in each hand. Place the coin in the first hand near the center of your palm. The coin in the other hand needs to be in the palm, but closer to the thumb. When you turn your hands over and slap them on the table, the coin closer to the thumb will scoot under your other hand. At this point, you should have both coins under one hand.

You can then ask your audience where the coins are. The common response you will get is that there is a coin under each hand. But when you lift your hands off the table and show that they are under one hand, you will have many surprised people. This trick is fun and one of the many you can find on the Internet.

The key to early success is following directions step by step and then practicing until you are quick enough to amaze your audience.

Your older child may want to put on a magic show for neighbors or classmates. Using a low table and simple frame for curtains, create a “stage” for the performance. Make or buy a simple cape. A top hat and wand purchased or made add to the effect.

Have your child decide which tricks to include and practice them several times before the show. After performing, your young magician may want to reveal the secret behind one or two of the tricks. But urge them to keep the bulk of his or her tricks to themselves to preserve the magical effect.

Magic tricks can be more than fun. They exercise a part of the brain that deals with problem-solving and exploring possibilities. Many are mathematical and/or logical; others are sleight of hand and unlikely to be solved by the audience. At any rate, magic tricks inspire great wonder and fulfill our very human need to be puzzled and surprised.

Main points to address:

  • Help your child learn a few coin and card tricks you’ve found on the Internet or in books.
  • Practice makes perfect.
  • Putting on a magic show for friends or neighbors can be great fun. Magic tricks exercise a part of the brain dealing with problem-solving.

Resources
Resources that can help you in your venture include:

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