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Magic: A Classroom Tool for Building Self-Confidence and Public Speaking Skills

Share Thinking of putting together a class magic show? Want to help build your students' self-confidence? Just looking for a fun way to work public speaking into your curriculum? Magic could be the hook!

Magic Book Cover

Fay Presto has been a magician for 16 years. She taught herself the "tricks of the trade" from books, and now -- Voila! -- she's created an ultimate first book, Magic for Kids (Kingfisher). In the right hands this colorful paperback could be a great classroom teaching tool!

Thinking of putting together a class magic show? Want to help build your students' self-confidence? Just looking for a fun way to work public speaking into your curriculum? Magic could be the hook!

"On the way to becoming a magician, I discovered some important things," Presto says in the introduction to Magic for Kids. "Magic is easier than you might think it is. It's not just about tricks, but about people and how you get along with them. And it is about how you present yourself."

In Magic for Kids Presto provides not only magic tricks from an insider, but tips on how to present those tricks -- right down to scripts for possible banter with an audience. Each trick is rated according to its degree of difficulty. An introduction explains what the audience will see. Preparation tips and step-by-step performance tips are all colorfully illustrated, mostly with photos of kids in action!

Before Presto even gets to the magic, she reveals six pages of useful tips. Those tips make a great starting point for kids (or for classroom lessons). Putting together a magic show is not just about slapping together some tricks, says Presto, "You'll need to give your show some shape by planning a beginning, a middle, and an end." Among the other tips she shares:

  • Don't tell. Never repeat a trick, no matter how tempting it may be. The second time around, your audience will be looking for the secret behind your act.

  • Divert attention. If you want to do something without the audience noticing, ask a question. They will automatically look at your face, not your hands...

  • Practice. Remember that practice makes perfect. Use a mirror to see how the tricks will appear to your audience.

  • Keep practicing some more. It takes some time to be able to talk easily at the same time as you perform a trick. Practice your patter with the easier tricks first.


Presto's bag of tricks includes tricks with ropes and tricks with a deck of cards; tricks with mind reading and tricks with disappearing water; tricks with coins and tricks with magical boxes (including directions for making the magical box!). The same tricks that the pros do! Kids can amaze their friends and classmates -- and teachers -- with tricks such as:

  • Water Surprise. This trick is performed in several stages. First, you pour plain water through two empty tubes into a mug. You then throw the contents of the mug over the audience -- but nothing comes out! You pour the contents of the tubes into a glass and out comes the water -- but it has changed color! (Rating: Medium difficulty.)

  • Number Crunching. A member of the audience is asked to write down a series of numbers. When those are added up, they equal a prediction you have already sealed in an envelope. (Rating: Easy.)

  • Twice as Rice. In this impressive trick, the audience sees you fill an empty margarine tub to the brim with uncooked rice. You then place an identical margarine tub upside down over the top. When you take the top tub away, the rice has doubled in quantity. (Rating: Medium difficulty.)

  • Cereal Killer. You open up a box of cereal in front of the audience, but there is only one tiny cereal flake left inside. You demonstrate that the box is empty by opening the bottom and allowing the audience to look right through it. Then you close the bottom and the top and tap your wand on the box. When you open the top of the box again, you can pour a full portion of cereal into the bowl. (Rating: Medium difficulty.)

That's just a sampling of the fun in store in Magic for Kids. Putting together a magic show would make a great class activity for those days leading up to Thanksgiving break, the December holidays, or any school vacation. Or how about using a student magic show as a spring PTO fundraiser? Raise money for school projects while raising self-esteem! Presto!

Magic for Kids is written by Kay Presto and published by Larousse Kingfisher Chambers, Inc., 95 Madison Avenue, New York NY 10016.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 1999 Education World

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