Looking for a great DIY magic trick? Here’s one by one of our favourite experienced children’s entertainers and educators, Jim Kleefeld. Jim is the author of multiple theme show magic books, and the following storytelling magic routine is taken from his book Dream Magic. We will hear more about and from Jim next week as he has a live lecture coming up for Kids Entertainer Academy, as well as an episode on the Kids Entertainer Podcast. In the meantime, here’s the excerpt from his book.
What more magical dream of young children than going to a fair, festival or theme park where they can ride and play and get lots of fun foods. In this routine, you tell about your childhood dream of going to the fair every year and eating ice cream cones, cotton candy and more. But one year, your dream turned out to be full of bad luck. Every time you bought an ice cream cone it spilled and every time you bought cotton candy it dropped. At last, your fun food wishes came true when you bought and ate a foot-long hot dog.
This is a variation on the venerable old Compass Trick, where you have a square with an arrow on it and every time you turn it over, the arrow changes direction. In this version, after you flip the square over several times, you openly unfold it to reveal a kicker addition to the artwork.
To make this, find some good clip art of an ice cream cone, a cotton candy cone, an overturned popcorn tub and a hot dog three times as big as the ice cream cone and cotton candy. Print each of these on card stock. Then glue the cone, cotton candy and popcorn to heavier cardboard such a as comic book backing board.
The cleanest way to make this prop is to configure the boards first and to add the art panels last. Lay out three squares of heavy cardboard. Separate them by about 1/4 of an inch. Then hinge them together by running a piece of white or red cloth tape over each seam. Turn the three-panel strip over and put another piece of tape on the seams on the reverse side. Check to make sure that you can fold both end panels back toward the center. You may need to slightly trim one or the other for them to overlap and lay flat.
With the three panels glued or taped, add the printed artwork as shown here with the ice cream upside down, the cotton candy at right angles and the popcorn spilling to the bottom.
Flip the entire piece top for bottom and glue the three hot dog pictures on the reverse side.
To prepare for the performance, fold the popcorn panel in first, then cover it with the ice cream cone panel. The reverse side of your folded square will show the cotton candy. The hot dog picture is hidden completely.
For the presentation, talk about your dream of food at the fair. Show the ice cream cone right side up. Turn the panel over, pivoting it diagonally from the top right corner to the bottom left corner and show the cotton candy right side up.
Say that you dropped your cone and flip the panel diagonally top left corner to bottom right corner to show the ice cream cone upside down. Then flip it again to show the cotton candy upside down.
You can continue from here to flip the panels over different ways showing the ice cream cone and cotton candy pointing to the left, pointing to the right, right side up or upside down. Patter about making a mess and losing each bit of food you bought. With the cotton candy pointing to the left (“It spilled!”) unfold the right panel to show that the ice cream cone is upside down alongside the cotton candy. Now unfold the left panel and explain that you also bought a big tub of popcorn and it spilled as well. Finally, flip the whole opened sign over and end by showing the giant three-panel hot dog.
It’s a surprise kicker ending and leaves you with hands apart in applause cue.
The dialogue here will give you a good idea of the patter to use for this routine. It’s not a full script, but I’ve included the premise of one.
When I was your age, I went to the County Fair every year. Since it only came around once a year, I dreamed about going all summer long. As soon as school was out, I dreamed about riding the Ferris Wheel, petting the horses, sampling the home-baked pies, and eating all those great-tasting, bad-for-your- health, only-at-the-fair foods like Belgian Waffle Sugar Platters, Deep Fried Snickers Bars, Mexican Funnel Cake, Chocolate Covered Corn Dogs, and Philly Cheesesteak on a Stick.
My folks liked taking me to the fair, but they never let me get the crazy wacky food I dreamed about. They usually let me have an ice cream cone like this one.
Bring out the board and display the cone right side up.
Or just one serving of cotton candy like this.
Flip the board over to show the cotton candy, right side up.
Of course, I was so excited to be living my dream, that I’d always drop my ice cream cone.
Flip the board to show the cone sideways.
And then I’d drop my cotton candy.
Flip the board to show the cotton candy sideways.
I could usually talk them into buying me a new cone…
Flip to show the cone right side up.
…and a new cotton candy.
Flip to show the cotton candy right side up.
But I’d usually drop the cone…
Flip to show the cone upside down.
…and then drop the cotton candy.
Flip to show the cotton candy upside down. You can continue a couple of times to show the cone and cotton candy positioned right-side up, then left, then right, then upside down again. But don’t overdo it.
I spilled a lot of food. I guess I was just nervous because I was finally getting what I had dreamed about all summer long. Finally my parents were so frustrated that I couldn’t hang onto anything, they bought me a big tub of popcorn. But I spilled that, too.
Open the panels to show the ice cream cone, cotton candy and popcorn.
At least I got to eat a hot dog before I left.
Flip the three-panel screen over to show the hot dog.
Let’s just say going to the fair wasn’t all I had dreamed it would be.
Flip the two panels toward you to close up the plaque and put it away.