Kids can charm their friends with these "magic" tricks, which include easy-to-follow instructions.
1. Fantastic floating orb
This gravity-defying trick, developed by science expert Bob Pflugfelder (sciencebobstore.com), is truly electrifying. Static electricity transforms strands of tinsel into an orb that floats as if by magic.
For best results, Pflugfelder says, try it on a dry day.
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Use a PVC magic wand powered by static electricity to make a glittering ball fly.
You will need:
Six strands of Mylar tinsel (We used Brite Star brand.)
PVC pipe (Ours was 1 inch wide and 2 feet long; available at home-improvement stores.)
Curly hair, wool sweater or other fuzzy surface
What to do: Hold the strands of tinsel together and knot them at one end. Measure 6 inches and tie a second knot. Use scissors to trim the excess tinsel on each end. Vigorously rub the PVC pipe against your hair or a wool sweater to build a static charge.
Hold up the charged pipe and drop the tinsel over the end.
The payoff: When the tinsel touches the wand, the static charge will make it expand into an orb and hover midair.
By moving the wand, you can control the floating orb.
2. Frozen fingers
No need to wait for the mercury to drop. In just a few minutes, you can frost a friend's hand.
What to do: Ask a friend to shake your hand and to squeeze it tightly for about three minutes. As he does, egg him on to squeeze harder. Tell him you feel his hand getting as cold and hard as ice. When the time's up, have him let go just enough for you to slip out your hand. Tell him again that his fist is ice-cold, then blow on it a few times to reinforce the idea. After a few seconds, tell him his hand has frozen solid.
The payoff: Watch him struggle to unclench his hand, as if trying to unthaw it.
3. Disappearing dime
With a little advance setup, you can make a coin vanish and reappear at will.
You will need:
A small glass
A glue stick
A dime or another coin
A large cloth napkin
Beforehand: Trace the rim of the glass on white paper. Cut out and glue the circle over the opening of the glass. Arrange the coin and glass on a sheet of white paper.
What to do: Tell your audience that you have a magic napkin that makes money disappear. Cover the coin and glass with the napkin. Pick up the glass with the napkin still covering it and place it over the coin. Wave your hands over the napkin as if to cast a spell, then remove the napkin.
The payoff: Observe their amazement when they see that the coin is gone!
Bonus: To make the coin reappear, put back the napkin and move the glass off the coin. Wave your hands over the napkin, then remove it to reveal the coin. The secret is the paper cover!
4. Ghost ball
Create a little something from nothing, then hand it to a pal.
What to do: Extend your hands as if you're holding a ball. Have a friend place her hands over the back of yours, then tell her to press firmly. As she does, press outward so that your hands and hers stay in the same position. Tell her to gradually increase the pressure, while you push out. Count to 60 in your head, then have her close her eyes and slowly reduce the pressure. As she does, move your hands away.
The payoff: For a few seconds, she'll feel as if she's holding an invisible ball.
5. Out-of-the-box mentalism
Reading minds? Please. That's something you can do with both hands behind your back!
What to do: Face away from a friend and, behind your back, hold out a fan of crayons (with no similar colors). Ask her to take all but one. Say that you can guess which color you hold without looking. Keeping your hands behind you, turn to face her. As you do, surreptitiously scrape a little bit of the crayon onto your fingernail. Holding the crayon in your other hand (still behind your back), slowly bring the marked hand to your forehead and pretend to concentrate. As you do, sneak a peek at your fingernail.
The payoff: When you're finished focusing your mental powers, tell your friend which crayon you hold.