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Simple Magic Tricks anyone?
December 1, 2009 5:02 AM   Subscribe

I am in need of some new simple magic tricks capable of impressing young children and inebriated adults.

So I've worked in childcare for around 8 years now and I've gathered a simple set of magic tricks that I've found win the attention and interest of the very young. I've been using these for awhile now and I've found that at least one of the tricks is capable of winning over even the toughest and most disinterested under-5. The problem is that I've done the shtick so much that I've grown bored of my own routine - regardless of how much I amaze a new audience.

My shtick consists of three classics...

The Old "Oooh look I can take my thumb off" Grandpa trick

The "Check it out I can stick a pencil up my nose, and out of my mouth and in my ear and out my mouth and in my eye " gag - Best used for over fives. Though in my history I've only had one kid try to copy me ( I stopped him in time). Nowadays I just tell the kids that they need to go to Hogwarts to learn how to do it and they must never, ever try the trick until they have.

and

The Amazing "Check it out I have a coin/rock/piece of lego in my hand, I've grabbed it with my other hand and "Wowee" it's disappeared" routine. - Very simple, but amazingly effective. Works on adults too.

So....Does anyone know of any other very simple prop (or not) based magic that is easy to learn and easy to impress? Surely there must be some cheeky Magical Mefites out there?
posted by AzzaMcKazza to Human Relations (17 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
Get a pack of cards. While no-one is paying attention (this is easier than it sounds), go through the pack and sort the red cards from the black. Gently bend all the red cards so their faces are a tiny bit concave. Gently bend all the black cards the other way so their faces are a tiny bit convex. Shuffle all the cards together. Get the attention of your audience, put the pack face down and challenge everyone to guess whether the top card is red or black. When they've all guessed, tell them if they are right or wrong (by looking which way the card bends). Then amaze everyone by turning over the card and proving yourself correct. Continue through the pack. In my experience, you can go through the pack several times with either children or drunk adults before some people get bored, and others are so intrigued that they start to suss you out. Of course, when they work out what you're doing, that's part of the fun too.
posted by beniamino at 5:37 AM on December 1, 2009


If you look on youtube, you can find the "how to tear a phone-book in half" trick. It is really easy, as it turns out. I know a petite oncology nurse who uses it as entertainment for the kids, but also as an "if I can do this, so can you!" kind of trust/relationship thing. Not really magic, but it does impress as a bit of a trick.
posted by Tchad at 5:41 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


A very simple trick that I used to confuse my siblings with when they were really young: Put a coin in your right palm. With both hands as fists, spin them around each other to "shuffle" -- it can be done slowly, so it seems obvious that the coin hasn't moved. Make the kids guess which hand the coin is in. No matter which hand they guess, you show them that the coin is actually in the other hand.

Required props: two similar-looking coins.
posted by martinrebas at 5:55 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


1) This one can seem kind of mean, but I used it on kids in 3rd or 4th grade back when I was a teacher, and if you time it right, they love it. Note, the most important part is really revealing the trick, so that might not jibe with your style.

It's the old "Crack Your Nose" canard, with a twist. Start off with a really small group and tell them you are going to crack your nose. Show then how people normally crack their fingers and tell them you can also crack your nose. Place your left hand so that it covers a loosely made right fist, and then bring both hands up to your nose so that the fingers on your left hand cover your nose completely. The fingers of your right hand should be touching your nose. Open your mouth slightly and put your right thumbnail behind your front teeth. Pull it forward across your teeth. It should make a weak, but somewhat cracky sound. Ta-da! Most of them will look a liiiiittle bit confused, and then you should show them how they did it.

Now, the real trick comes when you repeat the trick a little bit later on. Do it just like you did before, except this time, palm an empty box of TicTacs in your hands. Instead of doing the thing with your thumbnail, crack the box. It will be really loud and sound a lot like you actually cracked your nose. Open your eyes really big and just go quiet for a while. The kids who are seeing this for the first time will probably think it's a trick. The kids who saw you do the thing with the thumbnail? They will think you just broke your nose for real. Wait a few seconds, and ham it up. Then open your fist and show the TicTac box. Hooray, your nose is not really broken. (Protip: For drunken adults, fill the TicTac box with watered-down ketchup.)

2) This one is best with young kids. You need a pencil, a pen and a watch. Stick one of the pencils perpendicularly underneath the wristband of the watch, so that the pencil is on the inside of your right forearm and sticking out onto your palm a little bit. Hold your arm so that the kids can't see this pencil. Then, take the pen and hold it in your right fist in such a way that the pen is held in place by the pencil. Hold your right hand in a fist, and then slowly unwrap your fist one finger at a time. Leave your thumb still wrapped around the pen and say "Ta-da! Magic! How does it stay in place!" And then the kids will point out your thumb. Unwrap your thumb and the pencil will still hold the pen in place. Oooohaaaaah! Magics!
posted by 23skidoo at 5:59 AM on December 1, 2009


Not exactly a trick, but I remember enjoying the penny on a coathanger trick and it's something the kids can try for themselves (plus it's slightly educational).
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:05 AM on December 1, 2009


For this, you'll need a quarter. With your arms at your sides, bend your forearms up 90 degrees, palms up. Put a quarter on your palm just below your right forefinger. Then, quick as you can, snap both hands into fists, palm down -- but the left should go a hair slower than the right. The quarter flip into your left hand. The hard part is to catch it with your left and make it look natural. This will take a few hours to master, but once you do, you can play with it - which hand is it in? Put your right hand over the table and your left under and smack it through the table. You can also choose what hand it's going to be in by not tossing it.

Second one - easier. Needs a dime and a sweater, shirt or jacket with very loose sleeves.

Put the dime on a fingertip of your left hand (I use middle) and hold it under your palm-down right hand. Put your right hand into a "snap" pose, circle it around the dime a few times then snap so that you shoot the dime up your right sleeve. Cup your right hand, misdirecting from it and the dime will fall into your hand, ready to be pulled out of noses, ears, asses, whatever.
posted by plinth at 6:06 AM on December 1, 2009


Make the "OK" sign with your right hand. Make it with your left hand as well. You now have two "rings". Tap the rings together to show that they're solid. Turn away so that your torso is blocking their view of your hands. Turn back around, and now show that YOUR HANDS HAVE BECOME MAGICALLY LINKED TOGETHER! Repeat the turnaround to unlink your hands. Kids will giggle. Adults will roll their eyes.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:56 AM on December 1, 2009


Similar to spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints:

Hold up the first two fingers of your left hand. Make a fist with your right. Bump hands, and see the held up fingers magically transfer to the right hand! Do this a couple of times. On a subsequent bump, make the fingers disappear, ready to be pulled out of noses, ears, asses, whatever.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:10 AM on December 1, 2009


There's Body Tricks by Stephen Ablett which contains a large number of all kinds of body / hand / arm tricks that can be done with no extra props; they range from simple ones to more complex ones that need to be practiced carefully, but are definitively worth it.

Sample:

Ring Finger Bond

Effect:
The fingers of the spectator are positioned touching each other. You instruct that this is a lie-detector test. As you ask a question, they are to respond by separating a set of fingers. However when you ask the embarrassing question, they are unable to separate the fingers, exposing them at an embarrassing truth!

Method:
The Ring finger is closely connected at the bone to the middle finger, and when in a particular position, will not separate like the others.

Performance:
Instruct the spectator to holds their hands like below, with the tip of each finger touching the tip of the other hand.
Instruct the spectator to curl over the middle finger, so that the knuckles are touching.
Instruct them to keep the knuckles touching at all times.
As them an easy question, and instruct them to separate the thumbs. They can do this.
Ask them another question and tell them to separate the pinkie. The third time they separate the forefinger, but on the final attempt, you ask them the embarrassing question, and to separate the ring finger, which they are unable to do.

Variations:
This is used in many ways, such as placing a married couples hands together, and showing that their love is unbreakable.
You can also perform the feet with just one hand, by placing it on the surface of a table like below.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 7:16 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Phone Book Friction is a pretty good trick, if you happen to have 2 phone books around. There's a way to interleave the pages fairly quickly, and still create enough force to make it extremely difficult to get the 2 books apart. Do a quick interleaving, grab one end, and have the kids in the room pull on the other book, trying to get them apart.

Other than that, I'm nearly 30, and I'm still impressed as hell by good sleight of hand. It takes a ton of practice, but it's *really* cool.
posted by god hates math at 7:19 AM on December 1, 2009


This rubber band trick is really, really easy to do and very impressive. I don't have time to check through YouTube for an explanation video, but I'll check later.. I'll see if I can record one later this afternoon.
posted by odinsdream at 7:24 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's a trick that will seem pretty obvious to adults but works surprisingly well on kids:

The effect of the trick is that you strike your palm with a pen or pencil twice, and on the third strike it disappears.

Take a pen or pencil and stand so that the audience sees your profile from your left. Take your left hand and hold it out with your palm facing up, then take the pen in your right hand and rest it on your left hand. Then pull the pen back behind your head and bring it back down to your palm. Repeat this twice, counting out loud. On the third time, slide the pen behind your right ear (which the audience cannot see) and bring your hand down normally. If you do it fast and smooth enough, and emphasize with your body that they should be looking at your left hand, kids won't notice that you slipped the pen behind your ear.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:40 AM on December 1, 2009


If you want to go up a level, a great intro. to magic book, by an up and coming young magician, is Magic: The Complete Course, by Joshua Jay. It includes a very helpful DVD.
posted by gudrun at 8:02 AM on December 1, 2009


Forgot two simple dollar bill tricks.

The first is joining two paper clips without touching them.

The second is utterly stupid, but a good finisher. Take out a US 1 dollar bill and fold it lengthwise in front of your rubevolunteer. Fold it lengthwise with the eagle up.

You: Do you see the eagle?
v: Yes.
You: Do you see a wing?
v: Yes.
You: Say 'wing'.
v: Wing.

Fold the bill as shown here.

You: Can you see a wing?
v: Yes.
You: Say 'wing'.
v: Wing.

Fold the bill so that it mirrors the second fold (ie, two ears).

You: Can you still see a wing?
v: Yes.
You: Say 'wing'. (probably not necessary at this point)
v: Wing.

You: Now, we've had three folds and three wings. I want you to hold out three fingers (demonstrate fore, middle and ring fingers out straight, palm down).

Set the bill so the two ears are down.

You: Now, say 'wing' three times.
v: wing, wing, wing
You: (picking up the bill like a phone): Hewwwo?
posted by plinth at 8:20 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Balducci levitation is made for drunken parties, but is harder with small children. Needs: long pants, flexible shoes, and practice in a mirror to get the right angle.
posted by Orb2069 at 10:42 AM on December 1, 2009


Thanks guys! Some great suggestions in here. I've got some learning to do.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 12:44 PM on December 1, 2009


I think you're ready to graduate to tricks that require inexpensive props. Go to any store that sells magic tricks and ask the proprietor for suggestions for entertaining young children. One that comes to mind is the Scarf that Changes Color.
posted by exphysicist345 at 9:25 PM on December 1, 2009


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