These magic tricks teach kids just how much fun math can be - card trick, mind reading and passing yourself through a piece of paper

Does math make your kids groan? Do they think it’s boring? If you need some help getting your kids excited about math, try using a little magic. Here are three tricks to have up your sleeves.

Card Trick

this card trick uses math to help the magician read your card
    1. For this trick, you’ll need a deck of cards. Before your trick, sneak a peek at the 10th card in the deck. Memorize it.
    2. Now choose a volunteer. Ask him/her to choose a number between 10 and 20. Count out that number of cards to create a smaller deck. Make sure you laid them all face down. Now pick up the smaller deck.
    3. Ask your volunteer to add the first and second digit of their number together. For instance, if they chose 12, the math equation would be 1 + 2 = 3.
    4. Now, counting from that smaller deck, hand the volunteer the new number. If they chose 12, you would hand them the third card. Instruct them not to show it to you. It will be the card you memorized.
    5. While the volunteer is holding the card, ask them if it’s the card you memorized from the deck. Feel free to use a little theater,”Is it red?”
      “I’m sensing something sparkly. Is it… Is it… a diamond?”
      “Is it (pause for dramatic effect) a 3 of diamonds?”
      Gasp, “How did you know?”
      And, cue applause.

This trick boils down to a math problem. While the equation seems random, the answer will always be 10.

I choose the number 11. 1 + 1 = 2. You hand me the second card from the smaller pile. That’s the 10th card from the deck.

Let’s try it again. I choose the number 13. 1 + 3 = 4. You hand me the 4th card which, you got it, is the 10th card in the deck.

Now teach the kids and have them try it out on another family member or friend.

Mind Reading

use math to read someone's mind - cool trick to get kids excited about math
    1. Begin this trick by telling the kids you can read their minds.
    2. Now ask them to think of any number. You may want to warn them it may be easier for them if they choose a smaller or even number. But really, any number will work.
    3. Now tell them to double the number. Add 10. Divide it in half. Then, subtract the original number.
    4. Look the kids in the eye, squint like you’re thinking really hard and then, say, “Five!” If the kids did their math properly, you have just blown their minds.

This trick is similar to the card trick in that the answer will always be the same, five. Look closely, and you see it’s really just math. Have the kids write out the equations they did in their head to see how it works.

Passing Through Paper

is it math or magic? This trick teaches kids how to pass their bodies through a single sheet of paper

For our final trick, you’ll need a piece of paper and a pair of scissors.

    1. Start by telling the kids that you will pass your body through a piece of paper. Pass the paper around and ask your audience to inspect it. It’s just a regular piece of paper. Or is it?
    2. When the paper is returned to you, fold it in half so the short ends meet.
    3. Cut a narrow rectangle from the fold.
    4. Then cut alternating lines into the paper, start from the folded side. Don’t cut all the way through the paper.
    5. Open the paper up, and you have a large hoop. Go ahead and step right on through.
three magical math tricks including how to pass your body through a sheet of paper

This trick is actually a clever lesson in geometry. By cutting into the paper, you changed its perimeter. It’s also a great lesson to get kids thinking creatively. What else can they do with a sheet of paper?

See kids, math is fun!

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About Jennifer Cooper

Jennifer Cooper

Jennifer Cooper is the blogger behind, an online resource for creative families.  Her favorite past times include: dancing around her living room, watching the Pink Panther with her kids and daydreaming. She lives in Baltimore, MD with her husband, photographer Dave Cooper, and two children. 

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