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Topic: Impromptu magic for kids
Message: Posted by: 1KJ (Sep 2, 2014 03:51AM)
What have you done in a very challenging impromptu situation for kids?

I don't do a lot of magic specifically for kids, particularly very young kids. However, I was at a dinner with kids ranging from 3 to early teens. One of the moms was getting a bit overwhelmed and turned to me and said: "Could you do some magic for these kids?" Of course, I said "sure."

The only thing available was a bowl of tortilla chips. My mind is going through a variety of possibilities: Chips across, Chip matrix, Chink-A-Chip, etc.

I decided to start with the older kids and took a few chips and broke them into small pieces and did the effect with a square with ten chip pieces in each side. I forget the name of the effect, but the jist is they can add a chip piece anywhere and with a bit of manipulation, without removing any chip pieces, there are always ten.

However, a three year old decided to participate and the effect migrated into a comedy of me against the three year old, sort of a race between me building the illusion and her consuming it. It ended up entertaining the kids for way longer, and the whole table was in tears laughing. It turned out great as it captivated every child, taking pressure off the moms.

What was your challenging moment, and what did you do?

Message: Posted by: 1KJ (Sep 5, 2014 03:02AM)
Message: Posted by: brandontoh (Sep 8, 2014 09:42AM)
I've tried performing for kids in a casual setting a few times. They never really go over well, because my routines are planned with adults or at least teenagers in mind. So I just let the strength of the effects carry me over those situations. Usually the kids get confused and wonder how the rubberbands pass through each other, or how the cards jump from one place to another.

One time, I asked a 7yo kid to pick a card, show his friends, and not to show me. So lo and behold, the moment I turn around he shove the face of the card right in front of me. It happened 2 more times, before I decided to pretend to keep the cards and leave. That turned his friends against him, and well, he got a lot quieter after that. Similar situations could happen with adults too, so as far as specific kid situations go, well, I had to stop myself from making inappropriate jokes quite a few times.
Message: Posted by: bloodkin (Sep 8, 2014 01:55PM)
Always a tough one. I'm always ready for impromptu mentalism but when all of a sudden a little one asks to see a trick, you can't exactly grab their crayolas and do a drawing duplication. However, my go to effect, especially if there are several kids, is vanishing crumpled napkins via the over the shoulder method. Can't remember the name of the trick right now. But the simple vanishes are astounding for the child, and the physical comedy side of it kills for the other kids and the adults. All around, a fun, go to routine at anytime.
Message: Posted by: jcrabtree2007 (Sep 12, 2014 11:04AM)
I work in an ER and I do magic for the kids on a daily basis. They are scared and it is a total ice breaker. I'm no longer a scary stranger...
Re-capped by Greg Wilson- works in all situations. Always a ball point pen with cap somewhere- usually in my shirt pocket. Do this all day long. There are other things such as pulling cap from their ear that works well for those as young as 3. This one is the best.
Learn a couple of finger ring moves. Most wear a finger ring. Impromptu. Garret Thomas Ring thing. Justin Miller Divorce (awesome routine).
I usually have a couple of rubber bands on my wrist. ring and rubber band routines. CMH. linking rubber bands. hanson chien TOUCH. there are so many great impromptu rubber band routines out there.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Sep 12, 2014 12:48PM)
What!!! No sponge balls with cotton balls?
Message: Posted by: RogerTheShrubber (Sep 12, 2014 04:06PM)
I got really lucky the one time I was asked to do a trick for a bunch of kids, because one of the many adults with all of us happened to be my uncle - the guy who taught me the "Wizard" phone trick. He overheard what was going on, we exchanged glances, he nodded and silently excused himself, and I started in on the story of the cranky old wizard who will name your card over the phone and then rudely hang up on you. No deck of cards was present, but of course none was needed. Seven, eight kids, all blown away.

As for what I would have done if I didn't have a confederate present, the honest answer is that I don't think I'd have been ready for that many kids watching my every move from every different angle possible. It was a pool party and I had none of my usual props with me.

Like I said, I got really lucky.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Sep 12, 2014 05:52PM)
And, THAT is why one needs to know principles!

Performing magic is not limited to "box props" OR "sleight of hand"!

Message: Posted by: themagiciansapprentice (Sep 13, 2014 12:11PM)
Experience has taught me well; and I've done a lot more kids shows than restaurant work. So I always carry sponge balls to pocket ; mini change bag with rainbow silk; five inch ring and rope; coin unique; elastic bands; questional trick; genii card; hot rod and "Where's the rabbit?" (Razzamatazz Magic UK). These are in a pouch on my belt and give me breathing space to assess what else is to hand. Quite often this year they've been a life-saver at restaurant gigs and family gatherings. And gets repeat bookings.

Card tricks simply confuse them. They have no concept of pick this card. Even card warp is a puzzle, rather than magic to them.

A good understanding of sleight of hand and an appreciation of work by Greg Wilson and Ravi Mayar (Can/UK) helps.

It's also sensible to take on children in small groups (less than 4) and to stop the show as soon as they start grabbing stuff or getting too boisterous.

And think about TEACHING them a trick or two, that local magicians don't use in their routines. I always carry cards with tricks on the back (Performers Print Shop) as business cards so those are a good start. Then onto crayons behind my back and jumping elastic bands.

Then use thecthings at hand. Napkins for sponge balls. Napkins for balls over the head. Lipstick/ash through hands. ....
Message: Posted by: RogerTheShrubber (Sep 14, 2014 02:40AM)
[quote]On Sep 12, 2014, Dick Oslund wrote:
And, THAT is why one needs to know principles!

Performing magic is not limited to "box props" OR "sleight of hand"!


No argument there. Not to make excuses, but the only magic I do is cards and coins, and I don't do it often enough to have a reputation as the neighborhood magician, so I wasn't ready (it's actually more likely that I'd have been asked to perform a simultaneous chess exhibition for the kids, that's actually happened before). I can certainly do some card tricks for kids that would withstand intense scrutiny by them, but there wasn't a deck on hand.

But if you were to look at some of my previous posts, I have repeatedly made it clear that I'm not anywhere near the skill level of most of those on this forum. My renewed interest in magic is barely a year old and I joined the forum to get better at what I do and know the principles better, as well as to get tips on presentation. I was just answering the OP honestly. I'm not in the same league as most of you guys and I just wasn't ready.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Sep 14, 2014 09:25AM)
Hey "Shrub"~! I din't mean that post as a "put down"! I sincerely meant it as a compliment.

There is an old "principle" of leadership: "Know and use your resources!" "Youse" did!!!

Pawn to Queen, four!


P.S. I know a card trick! You start with three rows of cards (seven in a row). Then you.....hekk, I forgot what comes next.....
Message: Posted by: Gerald Deutsch (Sep 14, 2014 10:20AM)
For years I’ve entertained children in a hospital on a regular basis and I’ve always used the “squeaker”.

I would go up to a child and pick up his thumb and say, “What’s that on your thumb?” and it would squeak and I would be amazed – and so would the child and the child’s mother. (I have found that is such a situation the mother is under more pressure than the child and it does her so much good to get a laugh).

Then I would squeeze another finger and the thumb and the child’s other hand and nothing would happen. I would look confused and would again pick up the first thumb and it would squeak and again I would look amazed.

It’s Perverse Magic – I’m as amazed as the child and his mother.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Sep 14, 2014 12:43PM)

I couldn't agree more! When working with kids, especially in a casual situation like hospital visits, props like the squeaker are an excellent means of "breaking the ice"!

In my school show, especially for elementary ages, I use a perverse ball routine as the third bit in the program. It plays nicely for high schools, but it gets show stop laughs from the little ones. Further, it helps set my character!
Message: Posted by: RogerTheShrubber (Sep 15, 2014 06:26AM)
[quote]On Sep 14, 2014, Dick Oslund wrote:
Hey "Shrub"~! I din't mean that post as a "put down"! I sincerely meant it as a compliment.[/quote]

The fault was mine. I misread your post, I thought you were referring to my confession that without my uncle present I'd have been unprepared. And even if you had been, upon rereading my post I see I came across as more defensive than I meant to anyway. I was just trying to say that I'm learning while admitting that I have miles to go before I'm anywhere near the same league as you guys, while also admitting that you were right, but somehow I turned my post into something came off as me being offended, which I certainly was not. Advice is what I came to this forum for and I appreciate it all, so I both thank you and apologize for the misunderstanding.

[quote]There is an old "principle" of leadership: "Know and use your resources!" "Youse" did!!![/quote]

And it worked perfectly, but again, I have to admit I was lucky. The perfect confederate was there.

[quote]Pawn to Queen, four![/quote]

Ooh, a queen pawn player using descriptive notation! It's been a while (for the latter, anyway). I'm guessing I'm not the only one here old enough to have watched Fischer-Spassky in '72 :)

Knight to king bishop three. If pawn to queen bishop four, pawn to king three. And don't expect me to take your king rook pawn on my 29th move :)

[quote]P.S. I know a card trick! You start with three rows of cards (seven in a row). Then you.....hekk, I forgot what comes next..... [/quote]

Okay, we'll get to that one in a minute, but let's finish mine first. Pick up the first pile, deal three cards down, and then one card on top of each of the other piles. Good. Now do the same with the second pile... :)
Message: Posted by: Yellowcustard (Sep 15, 2014 06:06PM)
Not really magic bu origami is use full for this situation. I make a model and give it to a kid then as them and there friends come up for more I let them sit and I just talk to them as they watch what happens next. The young ones love it a go off and play the older one I will teach them a basic fold.
Message: Posted by: 1KJ (Sep 21, 2014 11:20PM)
Excellent thoughts! Thanks. I used to have some codes worked out with my oldest daughter so we could do any sort of miracle with kids (or adults). She is a teenager now, and we seem to have forgotten them. Maybe I should revisit that.
Message: Posted by: DougTait (Oct 9, 2014 12:53AM)
Styrofoam, paper or plastic cups and some wadded up napkin gives you an impromptu cups & balls routine.
If you can sneak in a final load or two - all the better.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Oct 9, 2014 08:38AM)
Yes! Doug!

To kids, a "real" magician, can do magic anywhere and anytime, without a trunk full of gadgets.

Example: I learned a lot of "handies", years ago. (Handies: tricks with your bare hands. --stretching fingers, removing thumbe etc.) Meir Yedid has a complete "repertoire", --Well worth your "exploring"!!!

The important thing is the "EFFECT" you create in the youngter's MIND! That's where the "magic" happens!

There are little "things" that add to the trick. For example, talk WITH them, not TO them. Kids really like it when adults have s CONVERSATION w I t h them. KEEP IT SIMPLE -- MAKE IT FUN!
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Oct 9, 2014 09:05AM)
Oh! >>>>Roger>>>

After "Pawn to Queen Four" I'm out of my league! I got that "gag" from a book by _____ Parkinson about 60 years ago. The book was titled: "Lifemanship", and it was a humorous "essay" on psychologically "ploying" someone. He also wrote "Gamesmanship".

A magician who understands basic psychology,is way ahead of the klutz who just demonstrates magic shop props!

Re: "my" card trick! I have known,or know, most of the top cardicians in the last 50 years. Men like Dai Vernon, Charlie Miller, Ed Marlo, Alex Elmsley, Jon Racherbaumer, Ricky Jaye, et al.

Jay Marshall and I caught Ricky in a "blue jeans" night club in Chicago, about 40 years ago, as he absolutely destroyed a bunch of reporters after hours, when the owner of the club asked him to "show them something". He did the "Queens" from Erdnase. If I remember, it's called "The Exclusive Coterie". As a teenager, I had "worked my way" through Erdnase, but, then realized that a 15 year old "gambler" wasn't going to "cut it"!

I did pitch "SevenGali decks (as Eddie Fields used to call them!)and I made $$$, but, when Jon R. picks up a deck, I just shut up and watch!.

I must cut this short as I have an appointment......see ya down the road!

Message: Posted by: foolsnobody (Oct 10, 2014 01:03AM)
I hate to correct my friend Dick Oslund, but those books were called Lifesmanship, Gamesmanship, and One-Upmanship (I think Gamesmanship was the first), and they were written by Stephen *Potter* not Parkinson. My parents had them and I loved them. I wish they would reprint them as they originally were put out, not an "omnibus" and not with *glued* pages. Real books need to be sewn.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Oct 10, 2014 10:29PM)
Hi Rick! No problem!! --Thanks for the info. As soon as I read "Potter", I remembered his name! I never saw "One--Upmanship". I thoroughly enjoyed the first two.

I've used some of Potter's "ideas" for 60 years!
Message: Posted by: mndude (Jan 2, 2015 07:26AM)
Notepad Surprise is an awesome trick to do that even toddlers will absolutely love.
Message: Posted by: TomasKancyper (Mar 12, 2015 07:31PM)
Well, you have to do some easy to follow and visual magic. I´d recommend some coin routine or a sponge-ball routine (in case you don´t carry this with you, you can easily make some with napkins)
Message: Posted by: andrew martin (Mar 20, 2015 10:38AM)
BOBO's book.
Message: Posted by: andrew martin (Mar 20, 2015 10:41AM)
Coin vanish and produce from ear. Great trick for a kid.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Mar 20, 2015 11:47AM)
[quote]On Mar 20, 2015, andrew martin wrote:
Coin vanish and produce from ear. Great trick for a kid. [/quote]

Andy! Youse have stole half of my act!
Message: Posted by: andrew martin (Mar 21, 2015 11:09AM)
Sorry . LOL
Message: Posted by: cheesewrestler (Mar 26, 2015 10:22PM)
"I've got your nose!"
Message: Posted by: gvinson (Mar 30, 2015 02:29PM)
Rubber band tricks like CMH. Coin vanishes and producing behind the ear.
Message: Posted by: MJE (May 26, 2015 09:19AM)
Message: Posted by: Wardy (May 27, 2015 05:33AM)
Ring and string/shoelace.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (May 27, 2015 03:26PM)
A billiard ball routine with any object works great.
one time I hid a small ball in a child's hoody and 5 minutes later "found it" in their ear.
they had no idea.

lots of things can be done with coin type object. you don't have to do a full fledged routine. just find the coin behind their ear.
they will want to see it again. do it again. use misdirection and find it again, and again... they love that.

show your empty hand... and find it again!

put the coin thru the table, etc.

lapping really helps if you can be seated. you can do lots of Slydini type things that really work well.

you can do Paperballs (or whatever) over the head with a parent standing behind them. you don't even have to prepare the parent, usually.
They will understand their role with just a glance. Then after that, find the item behind their ear. The parent will cooperate with that too, no words necessary. You can even ask them which ear you will find the item in. Awesome stuff.

I really like doing impromptu "stuff" and really do NOT like doing an actual routine with kids at an impromptu situation. I try to keep it as impromptu "feeling" as possible.

And then... I QUIT!!!! I stop and return to my grown-up self as I feel that is just as important as being willing to "do a little something when asked".

Repeat after me... "Nope. I'm done!"
Message: Posted by: Wardy (Jun 13, 2015 07:28PM)
My foam dove has surprised the hell out of a few friends kids when they ask for something. First fear, then laughter.
Message: Posted by: MJE (Jun 14, 2015 10:39PM)
[quote]On May 27, 2015, Frank Starsini wrote:
they will want to see it again. do it again. use misdirection and find it again, and again... they love that.

Jeez, I get that with high school kids, even. Three words I can always count on. "Do it again!!"

I'm getting pretty good at ignoring it.
Message: Posted by: tvmikek (Nov 16, 2015 02:03PM)
I have a lot of nieces and nephews and they like it when I ball up two pieces of napkin.. give them one and I keep the other... and then I make mine disappear, only to end up in their hand so they have both. I've probably done this for them a hundred times and they don't get tired of it. My favorite part is when they try to imitate the trick. It's hilarious!
Message: Posted by: ruzifa (Jan 24, 2016 01:15AM)
Napkins over head by Greg Wilson's On The Spot... Messado rings... Pointless :)
Message: Posted by: Kyoki_Sanitys_Eclipse (Feb 7, 2016 12:40AM)
I use napkins for a sponge ball effext
Message: Posted by: The Wacky Wizard (Jul 29, 2016 04:13PM)
Making little kids head squeak with a squeaker.
One to hundred bill transformation with TT
Message: Posted by: qwerty71 (Jan 6, 2017 12:56AM)
Rubberband tricks are so clean and entertaining for kids. For example- rubberband jumping from two fingers to other two fingers
Message: Posted by: LeafyMagic (Jan 10, 2017 01:18PM)
If it's close up, I second rubber band tricks. From what I've done kids have specifically loved bandit-the other brothers and the gift-Joe Rindfleisch.
Message: Posted by: Ioannes (Jul 23, 2020 07:14PM)
The first time I tried doing magic to kids I tried doing a card trick. After I was done, they just looked at me and said, "So... what happened?" I then learned that they prefer visual tricks with a simple story and I've been using coins and sponge balls for a while. The effect is amazing!
Message: Posted by: vannma (Sep 19, 2020 06:43PM)
I used to do a lot of kid shows. Birthday parties, Vacation Bible School etc. With kids, they can get bored easily. Plus with all the video games these days and television, you want to make your show fairly fast paced. Their attention span is short so keep it lively, colorful, lots of volunteers if you can and keep the patter short, no long drawn out tricks.