Kids Magic Show


My mum told me that she has a friend that would like me to perform for there kids birthday party. I have never done this or any formal magic show for that matter. What tricks would you recommend? How long should the show go for? I need a crash course in kids magic.

May 3, 2008
Hong Kong
There are already many threads on this subject.
But performing for kids is an entirely different subject on performing for... older people. You either hate it or love it. I tried it once, it went great, got payed, but still... cant stand those kids...
As for tricks... I'm not the best judge but I would just go with visual, short, interesting, audience participation, alot of talking and yelling and movement, challenge them, etc.
make them know that you are incharge.
i just did a kids show and i actually had to "scold" a kid. what i did was like why would you do that? you are going to ruin the magic by not following directions ( the direction was keeping the hand on the deck (so it really didnt ruin the magic) but just following simple directions are hard for little kids to follow sometimes.
it also depends how old they are.
some older kids like cool card tricks. but they like visual stuff and fun stuff.
mouth coils , sqeekers,
if you have bigger finish, do that. sponge balls. pressure would prly work well if you have a cell fone. (every kid wants one)
and maybe a cool card change trick.

just have fun and dont think about it too much.
May 8, 2008
Cumbria, UK
I wouldn't.

But assuming you've got past that point and are definitely going to perform it, I'd basically create your own stuff. That's what I've done every time. Just get a routine together, for example the classic cake routine, which goes down well if you have a dovedish, and think of all the thinks you could put into it. Something silly, that the kids can relate to (I've used things such as the aforementioned cake routine and telling a story with tricks helping me narrate it). Then, find a method (pre existing or unique) for each thing. Make sure the tricks are visual, involve no effort to follow, and involve the kids quite a bit (but in a way that doesn't let them make it go wrong). This is what I've found, from my not too extensive experience (I got out of doing kids shows pretty damn quickly after getting in to it).

What ages are you performing to, by the way? It might help if we knew that.
Jan 5, 2010
Endless Gumball Production from Mouth
Torn and Restored Newspaper
Sawing a kid in half (ribbons)
Penetrating Shoelace
Self Tying Shoelace
Make something big appear (instant cane or something like that)
Produce a real rabbit (kids will go crazy)
Miser's Dream (with candy or coins I guess)
Any rope trick =P

Personally, I would stay away from card tricks..

Lastly, do balloon animals and you will have at least 3 new gigs that day and a lot of happy kids. Balloon animals will make people go crazy, no lie.
Sep 2, 2007
Las Vegas, NV
I did a gig for summer camp last year with 3 age groups: 3 to 6, 7 to 9, and 10-13. Which meant I put together 3 different sets. If I knew how much work I'd have to put into the gig, I either would've charged more money, or not taken the gig at all.

Cards, unless they're flying in the air, really don't go far with 8 and unders. Color Changes, and transpositions get a WOW but they seem to quickly lose interest. The type of magic here at Theory 11 and similar companies, really fly developmentally with kids 9 and up, where I performed a regular geek / card magic set (Here then There, Invisible Palm, Fizzmaster, Human Blockhead, PH's Pack of Lies, Thread, Panic and Prophet) and ended with giving each kid a Shabrule's Pendulum and demonstrating how apparent scrying/fortune telling is actually an idio-motor response. Great gig and the kids had fun.

Under that, the 40-minute set was too long for the 3 to 6's: had to break that up into 3 parts: Storytelling (Molly With Loves Magic Tricks is a great book); a short magic set (Miser's Dream, Coloring Book, Change Bag, Thumb Tips, d'lites); then finished off with animal balloons

7 to 9's had a Traditional 40-minute Children's Magic Set (Same stuff as above, adding Hoppin' Spots, Backstage, Hippity Hop Rabbits, Egg Bag, and Polka Dot Silks) Did a comedy Juggling Routine. Performed Thread, just cause I loved the reactions, when in the middle of the trick some kid said "You know we're only 8, right?" Might not have been the best choice i made...

Depending on the ages, you might not really be prepared for that kind of audience, it's dynamics, attention span, crowd control, and so on... Use wisdom and common sense... like make sure you perform BEFORE cake and ice cream. Kids on sugar highs make for bad audience dynamics. Listen to your gut and have the balls to turn down the gig if you don't have the chops.

If you've never done children's magic before, you'll learn a LOT about entertainment: the main thing I learned is that doing kids magic ain't about doing a bunch of tricks (5 to 8 tricks tops) but that great tricks is about creating plots and presentation that last 3 to 8 minutes per trick. Which then leads to the conclusion that "I can start a kids magic business with an investment of about $150 tops and through proper word of mouth and marketing, I can make a KILLING just doing a gig or two every weekend PART TIME!" So it has it's rewards too, even if you only take a third of the income from each gig to invest in new tricks. Troll thru Kids' Magic Forums on other sites and it's really neat seeing the potential... it ain't a sexy genre, but it's a great school of magic where you'll learn lots that will transfer into adult-oriented gigs..

There's lots of Kid's stuff out there but I got a lot of unique insight from Chris Capeharts "kidding around"

My two kanucks...
I've never performed for kids, but as someone who works with youngins five and under, some tips. I can't say that this advice is in any way authoritative, but maybe it might shed some light on the minds of mini-humans.

Children under 8, and sometimes older children for that matter, should never be relied on to follow instructions. You may be unlucky and wind up with a child who just.doesn't'.LISTEN. Also, sometimes the littlies just don't understand.

Children under 7-8 for most part won't be able to concentrate long enough to remember a card. These children have trouble concentrating on anything anyway.

If you are planning on giving away candy, seek permission from parents of ALL children, and make sure you can cater to allergies. While it may seem like a good idea, I'd avoid involving the giving away of edibles of any sort just to avoid trouble (this advice is somewhat contentious and depends on culture, prevalence of allergies and dietary ideas of all involved).

Just remember that they don't have the capacities adults have basically. Some things that teens and up take for granted children find very difficult or impossible. I just wouldn't do it per se, unless I had time to prepare.
Oct 20, 2008
Austin, TX area
Alright. I'm going to try to limit my answer to my limited practical experience.

Experience with kids that aren't mine.

Other kids where my two children go to DayCare remember me from Halloween, when I dressed as a wizard and did D'Lites. That sees to work.

They also get excited when I produce a red silk from an empty hand.

Kids love balloon animals. I don't even have a very large knowledge of shapes, but the kids don't care. Butterflies, swords, teddy bears, dragons, basic hats and basic dog shapes in different proportions are all I can do. Use a black balloon for the hat, turn it "sideways", and complement it with a sword: instant pirate costume.

Experience from my own kids.

All of the below comes with the caveat in mind that they see a lot of it, having me in the house. This has no doubt exposed them to more and increased their curiosity beyond a kid's party audience.

I asked my 6 year old what his favorite trick is that daddy does. "When you drop the cup through the other cup." He was speaking about the cups & balls routine. I find the kids pay more attention to cups & balls when I stress the magic wand more than the balls, and keep things moving briskly. Dropping one cup through another also goes over very well with both of them.

I actually get away with a lot of classic stuff as long as I do it quickly. Not rushed, but excited and upbeat. Linking rings. Don't leave any rings within reach, however. Silks. A wonder box and a gimmicked color-changing silk go over best when they see "the squares."

Professor's Nightmare for my kids in particular: Count "Big, Medium, Small" twice. Do the magic. "They're all the same size!" Then skip any proof with any other counts, restore them, and show them again. "Big, medium, small!"

Think about them repeating your tricks. Levitating is bad. When they can't figure it out they'll try to jump off something. Yes. Personal experience. My kids have walked in on me practicing rope through neck and loved it. It's quick, flashy, and impossible. But... um... I don't want them getting a jump rope and trying that either.


The oldest has only busted me one and a half times. Once was the terrible, infamous leg disappearing behind a towel. (It was bath time. I was bored.) The half was in doing Pressure. He started trying to do it too, and halfway even got it to work. But having the full routine plus the bonus stuff here at T11's forum does enough to even keep half-busted from going all-the-way busted.

Crazy Man's Handcuffs could be a fun thing to do when not formally performing. Maybe in between twisting balloon animals with all the kids up close.

The one thing I did not bring up is cards. The only success I have had there is a quick effect with their card reversed in the deck. Not a full Triumph routine. Just a quickly reversed card. If by chance you know the kid has a favorite card ahead of time then it helps to make sure he or she draws that one. :D

So.. most of this is me entertaining my own kids on the weekends. It may in fact be very specific to these two kids. Flashy, impossible, and performed at the speed of a five year old attention span serve me best.
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