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Topic: Silly vs. Straight
Message: Posted by: Andy Wonder (Nov 22, 2002 03:22PM)
I have performed an educational magic show in schools for many years now. I have always found that humour is much more useful in conveying my message with the older children than the younger ones. I have a lot of humour, situational comedy and silliness that helps me get my message across for children aged 7 and above.
With children aged 5-7 I find they can only take in so much silliness and still get the educational message. Their attention is shorter which is why I find I need to play it more straight. I use humour by allowing a funny situation to develop but I am careful not to be too silly. I feel it somehow takes some credibility from the educational message in my show.
I am now developing an educational magic show for pre-school age children. What advice or experience can you share about integrating humour into an educational magic show for children aged 3 and 4? Is it better to play it straight and use lots of exciting visual elements, or can you use a lot of silliness and still get a serious educational message across?

Message: Posted by: Dennis Michael (Nov 22, 2002 04:26PM)

You will be dealing with a tough age group. The experts in this age group are Samuel Patrick Smith and David Risley.

The most important thing to do with this age group is work with puppets. You don't need to know how to be a ventriloquist. It's the interaction they love. Even something like, "Flower the Skunk says..." works. This they can relate to and remember their attention span is limited. Thirty minutes is a max time length.

David Risley has a set of 12 cassette tapes, the set is called, [b]"The Complete Guide to Comedy and Entertainment for Kids."[/b] Excellent set of tapes which include, a Nurtrition Message show, a Dental Hygiene show, a Self-Esteem show, an EnviroMagic Show, a Safety show, and much more. I think the set is $100, and focuses on the magic but he does talk about the puppet end.

At a resturant last week, I had a set of peepers (Noggin) and a two year old was mesmerized and talking with Noggin, oblivious to the fact it was my hand and pair of plastic eyes. I gave it to the parents and they got him to eat, and much more. That plastic eyes was alive as far as the kid was concerned. Even the boy's father could work it. What was amazing was when the father put it on the boys hand. He wanted them back on his fathers hand. The boy could not make the connection that the father was moving his hand as a mouth. This is magic to them not tricks. To them everything around them is taken for granted as "real"; Cars, TV Computers, Magic Tricks are just objects, but puppets are the most powerful thing you can use to get a message across.

Good luck in this area.
Message: Posted by: johnpert (Nov 22, 2002 05:23PM)
Kids this age appreciate visuals and animateion. They likely wont understand jokes, but will laugh at funny pictures or funny movements.

After producing the Ali Bongo hat I bring it up to my ear and nod my head saying "yes, u-hu, okay." the kids usually say, what did he say, if they don't I tell them anyway. It could be something funny like, "He said you were cute, weired, etc." or it could be a lesson for your show that is part of a run on gag that the kids could repeat throughout.

With little kids, I would focuss on teaching maybe two concepts. Just have them pop up in each effect presented. Repetition will help someone learn something.

just my thoughts,

Message: Posted by: danryb (Nov 23, 2002 12:50PM)
Andrew, I live in Eilat, Israel. You aske me once and I never got around to answering.
It' is sea side resort on Isreli triange of borders between Jordan and Egypt. Life here is peaceful and quiet.
we have a population of about 40 thousand. There are 64 kindergardens. I presented them an entertaining yet educational plan which landed me a job of 35 kindergardens at 5 shows each.I say shows because that is an easier way of saying "entertaining educational lesson".
Basicaly each lesson is divided into 3 parts and i cater for 2years and ieght months of age up to 6 and sven year olds.
First part is roughly 5 minutes and I perform a magic trick like magic washing or or mis-made flag. These tricks have a general knowledge theme built into them. With a little fun and a few laughs and some silliness I get the childrens attention.
Part 2 is a story for about 10 minutes using good patter and children participation. En ideal example would be Lovey duck - the cute story of a little duckling who lives by himself and never ever opens his doors to strangers etc, etc, etc, One day he opende his door to the next door neighbours pet cat and lo and behold he was gobbled up. A little magic and help from the kids and we managed to find him peeping up out of a large wooden egg. Moral of the story - DON'T OPEN THE DOOR TO STRANGERS.
I have produced many such stories using various magical props.
Part 3 is 5 to 10 minutes with house hold stuff to create magic with. One example would be to take an unsharpened pencil and cover it with black and white tape, turning it into a wand and have all the kids wave their wands to perform a magic feat that accurs in my hands (Vanishing ball or hankie etc.). The kids believe that they do the magic and have plenty of fun.
I always devide the 35-40 kids into 2 groups and present the act twice. So I am at each kindergarden for about 45 minutes. Deviding the class allows me to involve all the children some way or another.
Both the kids and the teachers enjoy the different programmes.
I have some other ideas that are well used and would be happy to share them with you at a later stage.
First get started and if you want get back to me via this thread.