There’s no shortage of toys and gadgets for kids to play with these days. But amidst the technological wizardry of tablets and game consoles, branded dolls and action figures, and noise-making doo-dads lies the humble magic kit. Each kit is different, but all share one goal: to give children the opportunity to share the art of magic with their friends and family.
Magic kits are incredible toys for a kid, filled with cups, balls, gimmicks, and of course, the ubiquitous magic wand. It’s more than just a box of plastic, though; a humble magic kit is a gateway to unlocking the full potential of a child’s imagination and curiosity. Beyond getting to fool their friends on the playground, there are loads of beneficial life skills kids can learn thanks to magic.
Some tricks are so easy to perform their effects can be achieved right out of the box. Most, though, require hours upon hours of practice to simply learn, let alone pull off naturally. It’s like any skill—train enough and you’ll eventually develop the necessary muscle memory to make performing it second nature. Getting to that point requires dedication, sticking to routines and schedules, and devoting time to harnessing a craft.
Repetition is vital for developing minds. According to the Montessori Academy in Australia, repetition helps to form neural connections, which make tasks easier and require less energy and thought to perform. Performing tasks over and over also helps increase self-discipline, increase skill acquisition, and even improve cognitive abilities. By practicing magic, children will be able to make these neural connections while also getting to see the surprised looks on their friends and family’s faces.
Public speaking consistently remains one of humanity’s number one fears, above death, loneliness, or even spiders. The best way to gain the confidence and self-esteem needed to speak to groups of any size is to practice early, and often—which is why it’s so important for children to develop those skills when they’re young. Turns out, practicing magic is a great way to build those skills.
Magic as an art form requires an audience, along with a certain level of confidence, to be performed well. Through practice, kids can learn to think on their feet, build rapport with others through developing patter, and learn how to interact with a variety of people.
There’s even science behind this. A 2008 study by the British Association for the Advancement of Science found that a single lesson of “magic school” led to “dramatic psychological effects, with the results suggesting a significant increase in sociability and confidence.” In fact, their “magic school” was more effective at building social skills than a standard self-esteem lesson. By learning magic tricks, kids can learn vital real world skills and have a ton of fun doing it.
There’s science behind every magic trick. A trick as simple as the ‘torn-and-restored newspaper’ requires an understanding of the way paper bends and folds, while more complex tricks apply the scientific principles behind mirrors, chemicals, magnets, and more. Even something invisible like gravity has an effect on magic—and in order to be a good magician, one must have a general understanding of the science behind an effect.
Magic, then, becomes a fun way to learn how the world works around us. It’s one thing to learn how a mirror reflects and refracts light in class, but it’s way more fun to use mirrors to make objects disappear before your very eyes. There are even special magic kits for children that specifically teach the science behind their favorite tricks. Making learning magical makes it more entertaining for everyone.
One of the words magicians love to use is “ordinary”. Here’s an “ordinary’ deck of cards, or an “ordinary” ball, or an “ordinary” stack of coins. It’s why magic is able to amaze people—you’re taking the mundane and making it special. This can be mind-blowing for a child, as they see all the things in their house that they take for granted everyday and learn how to use them in totally new ways by thinking outside the box. Let a kid learn how to make a rubber ball disappear under some cups, and you’re opening up their mind to a world of creative possibilities. Start with a magic kit full of “ordinary” items, and maybe they’ll find the inspiration to design and build their own tricks.
Getting children to focus on a task and follow directions can be difficult, as modern society is filled with all kinds of little distractions. Magic is a way to get children to learn how to direct their energy onto a single activity, and to encourage them to read and understand directions.
Performing magic well requires being able to understand and then perform a series of distinct tasks. Some tricks are easier than others, of course, but many require special shuffles or techniques completed at the exact right moment to be truly effective. If a child has trouble following directions, giving them a magic kit with numbered instructions and visual diagrams can aid their working memory by helping them logically connect multiple actions together.