Abracadabra

abracadabra

Hat, wand, and rabbit ready? Then…it’s showtime! Prepare yourself for a magical extravaganza extraordinaire with a top hat packed with mind-boggling magic tricks!

We read Life is Magic by Meg McLaren (Clarion Books, 2016). Not every rabbit is the right fit for a magic show assistant. But Houdini the rabbit? He’s a natural! However, when a stage trick turns the magician into a rabbit himself, it’s up to Houdini to keep the show running until he can figure a way to get his human back!

You’ll need:

  • 1 plastic top hat
  • 1 strip of white poster board (approximately 2″ x 28″)
  • Black poster board
  • 1 square of plastic tablecloth (approximately 6.5″ x 6.5″)
  • 1 magic rabbits template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • 1 piece of string (approximately 27″)
  • 1 snippet of plastic straw (approximately 1.75″)
  • 1 piece of PVC pipe (approximately 10.5″)
  • A selection of color masking tape
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

magic top hat exterior

First, use markers to decorate a 2″ x 28″ strip of white poster board (we offered foil star stickers as well!). Wrap the hatband around the outside of a plastic top hat. We bought our hats from Oriental Trading Company (item #70/1284) for $8 a dozen. INSIDE the hat is where the magic happens…

magic top hat interiorAs you can see, the interior of the hat has two hidden pockets. These are made from 2 rectangles of black poster board taped inside the hat. After some testing, we learned that the pockets need to be fairly large (4.25″ x 9.5″) in order for the tricks to works successfully.

First, stuff a 6.5″ x 6.5″ piece of plastic tablecloth inside the right pocket of the hat.This is your magical “handkerchief.” Meanwhile, on the left side of the hat, notice the little 1.75″ snippet of plastic drinking straw? That’s the beginning of the pull string for a long line of magic rabbits…

magic hat rabbits pull stringWe gave the kids white rabbits to color, but if you want to print them in rainbow, you’ll find that template here. Knot a piece of string around the drinking straw snippet, then tape the rabbits to the dangling string. Bunch the rabbits up and slip them into the left pocket of the hat. However, leave the drinking straw snippet dangling outside the pocket so your fingers can find it later when you’re performing your trick.

Ready for the magic? Trick #1: First, show your audience that the inside of the hat is “empty.” Then, sneeze into your hat dramatically. While you are sneezing, pull the plastic handkerchief from the hidden pocket and say “Ta da!” Trick #2: Again, show the inside of your hat is empty. Then find the dangling drinking straw snippet with your fingers. Shout “Abracadabra!” and yank the line of rabbits out of your hat!

We also made classic wands by wrapping a 10.5″ piece of PVC pipe with color masking tape. And who can resist a poster board bow tie that attaches to your collar with a small paperclip?

magic wand and bowtieIf you’d like a add a third trick to your magic show, we highly recommend the “sticky wand” trick. You’ll find it, and other awesome tricks, in this “Incredible Illusions” post, but I’ve modified the instructions slightly below.

First, run your hand around the rim of your hat, announcing that it is giving you “magic magnetic powers.” Next, hold the wand in your “magnified” hand. Say “Observe my stupendous magnetic powers!” Extend your arm across your body and out to your side, still grasping the wand. Wrap your free hand around the wrist of your wand hand. Slowly and dramatically, lift each finger from the wand until you no longer appear to be holding it.

wand trick 2

But you are holding it of course. Because when you grab your wrist, you sneak a finger behind your wand hand and hold the wand like this:

wand trick 3 Tell the audience they have magic abilities too. On the count of three, have them audience clap once to “demagnetize” the wand. When you hear the clap, lift your finger to release the wand, and let it fall dramatically to the floor. Then take a big bow!

Now You See It…

now-you-dont This paper disappears in water before your very eyes, leaving the letters floating free. It’s the ultimate aqueous word scramble!

I was very intrigued when I spotted this dissolving paper in Educational Innovations’ online catalog. I’ve certainly seen the floating letter experiments with Skittles and M&Ms, but I’ve never seen anything like this paper! It’s made of sodium carboxyl methyl cellulose, a non-toxic substance that dissolves quickly in hot or cold water. Each sheet is 8.5″ x 11″. You can buy the sheets in packs of 15 for $7.95, packs of 30 for $13.95, or, if you want to vanish a whole novel, you can get 100 sheets for $42.50.

dissolving-paperThe paper is about half the thickness of standard office printer paper, but it went through both of our office printers and the copy machine with no tearing or jamming. Granted, I was just printing 1 sheet at a time. I did try 3 pages in a row on our most trustworthy office printer. Unfortunately, it had trouble grabbing the thin paper and actually missed the final sheet of the print job entirely. I was waaaay too chicken to try multiple sheets in the copy machine.

The product description stated that this paper works with “most laser printers and copiers.” But we took it a step further and also tested an inkjet printer, Sharpie permanent marker, roller ball pen ink, and ballpoint pen ink.

First, the laser jet printer. I filled a dish tub with a couple inches of room temperature water a dropped the paper in. It floated for a just moment, and then started rapidly dissolving. In a few seconds, it was reduced to a thin, almost transparent, paper-shaped film.

The package recommended giving the water a gentle stir, so I poked a drinking straw in the solution. It started breaking up, dissolving further, and yes! The letters started floating! How long do the letters remain on the surface of the water? A long time! I left them in the dish tub overnight, and they were still happily floating the next morning.

laserjet-testSecond test, copy machine. The letters printed considerably lighter on the page (this was a toner thing with our copier, not the paper). But that didn’t impair the letters from floating on the water like little alphabet ducks!

copier-testSo our laser jet printer and the copy machine worked. What didn’t work? Our inkjet printer. First of all, it blotted the paper during printing…

inkjet-blotchAnd when it came to the water test, the letters just disintegrated:

inkjet-testThe same applies for Sharpie permanent marker:

sharpie-testRoller ball ink and ballpoint ink also broke apart. The ballpoint ink shredded immediately (you can just see the sentence “Will ballpoint pen work?” at the bottom of the image below). Roller ball, I am surprised to report, held out a little longer.

roller-and-ballpoint-testIt was sort of cool. The roller ball ink blurred, sunk a little, and then just hung in the water. Eventually, however, the roller ball ink went the way of the ball point, Sharpie, and inkjet. It dissolved into a black smudgy mess.

It’s important to note that for all of these tests, the paper didn’t dissolve entirely. There was a little cloud of solution that started hanging around the bottom of the dish tub. The more paper I dissolved, the cloudier the water become. So if you’re going to do this with a bunch of kids, you will definitely need to change the water every so often.

Finally…

Being the incredibly mature people that we are, we decided to test the paper in the toilet. It worked. Of course it worked.

toilet-testBut no matter where you’re dissolving this paper – a dish tub or a commode – the letters do float apart very quickly. So leaving a secret message for someone isn’t really going to work (unless they’re standing right next to you and reading quickly). But this would be a fantastic way to introduce the concept of the anagram. Or jump-start a discussion about biodegradable materials. Or, just experience the fun of watching a sentence you’ve written slide apart and swirl across the surface of the water. Magic!

Find Somebunny

find some bunnyEvery magic show needs a rabbit…unless that rabbit pulls an unplanned disappearing act! Luckily, some glittering stars will help you find your friend!

We read The Magic Rabbit by Annette LeBlanc Cate (Candlewick, 2013). Ray is a street magician, and Bunny is his faithful assistant and best friend. The two friends do everything together. One day, however, Ray’s magic act is interrupted by a passing juggler. In the chaos, Bunny is chased by a dog and lost. Bunny searches and searches, but he just can’t seem to find his friend. As darkness falls, Bunny begins to despair. Enticed by a bag of popcorn, he suddenly notices a glittery star on the ground. It’s one of Ray’s stars! One by one, bunny follows the stars until he sees a very familiar figure on the subway platform. Reunited, the two friends walk home together.

You’ll need:

  • 1 large oatmeal container
  • White construction paper
  • A square of white poster board for feet (approximately 6.5″ x 6.5″)
  • 2 rectangles of white poster board for paws (approximately 1.75″ x 3.25″)
  • 6 twisteez wire (or pipe cleaners) for whiskers (approximately 3.5″ long)
  • 2 wiggle eyes
  • 2 white cotton balls
  • 1 medium pom-pom for nose (mine was 1″)
  • 2 white construction paper rectangles for the ears (approximately 2″ x 6.75″)
  • A rectangle of construction paper for hair tuft (approximately 2.5″ x 3″)
  • A strip of felt, any color (approximately 1.25″ x 4.25″)
  • 1 large pom-pom for tail (mine was 1.5″)
  • A magic star template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • A black plastic top hat (optional)
  • Scissors, tape, stapler for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Hot glue

This story time project involves making a rabbit, decorating some magical stars, and then finding your glittery stars in our gallery. We’ll start with…the magic rabbit.

finished rabbitWrap the oatmeal container with white construction paper. Cut feet from the square of white poster board. I recommend rounded feet with like the ones below (I used marker to add some “toe lines”).

feetHot glue the feet to the bottom of the container. To make whiskers, curl one end of each twisteez wire (or pipe cleaner), and tape them to the front of the container like so:

face step 1Then hot glue two white cotton balls over top of the whiskers. Hot glue a small pom-pom on top of the cotton balls, and top everything with two hot glued wiggle eyes.

face step 2Next, cut paw shapes out of the small rectangles of white poster board, and draw little toe lines on them. Tab the ends and hot glue (or tape) them to the front of the rabbit.

paw stepsFor ears, round the ends of the 2 rectangles of white construction paper, use markers to add some color, then staple at the bottom. Hot glue (or tape) them to the rabbit.

ear stepsFor a snazzy bow tie, knot a strip of felt and round the ends with scissors if needed. Hot glue to the rabbit.

bowtieFinish everything off with a jumbo pom-pom tail, also adhered with hot glue. I had some extra black plastic top hats lefts over from this project and this project, and they worked really well as rabbit carriers. Set your rabbit aside for the moment.

Next up, magic stars! Each kid received 4 blank magic stars, printed from the template. Then I brought out the Bling Bin and encouraged kids to use markers and the Bling Bin materials to decorate the stars. As you can see, the results were VERY magical.

lots of magic starsWe collected all the stars, sent the kids off to a secluded part of our gallery, and asked them to cover their eyes while we hid all the stars in the gallery. Apparently, those plastic top hats made for some pretty good blindfolds!

waiting in treeWhen the stars were hidden, kids and rabbits went star-seeking in the gallery! Then the rabbits, hats, and stars went home for more games of magical hide and seek.

Perhaps you’re ready to try a magic show of your own? Look no further than this post!