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Magician Camp Guide • Week 3

We're bringing camp home to you this summer with themed activities straight to your inbox. Enjoy a new guide each week as we explore select curriculum from each of our seven summer camps, recommended reads, and inspired videos.  Gather your materials, and let's get started...


  • Have fun!
  • Build confidence
  • Build fine motor skills
  • Inspire curiosity in young children


  • Calculator
  • Plastic sandwich bag with a seal
  • Food coloring
  • Table salt
  • Fruit juice
  • Mason jar with lid
  • 8.5 x 11 inch paper
  • Scissors
  • Water glass (clear)
  • Note card or stock paper
  • Marker


The amount of prep work required will depend upon the age of your child.  We encourage you to have your child do as much of the work as possible.  The learning takes place through the process.

#1. Guess Anyone's Age

Explore the magic of mathematics

Your child can use a simple calculator or have an adult use the calculator function on a phone.

  1. Ask an adult volunteer to hide the calculator screen from everyone and enter his or her age.
  2. Ask your volunteer to multiply the age by 2.
  3. Then add 1 to it.
  4. Multiply the result by 5.
  5. Multiply that number by 10.
  6. Ask the adult to write the answer down on a piece of paper.
  7. Look at the number and ignore the last two digits.  The number you are left with is the adult's age.

Depending on the age of your child, this is a great opportunity to discuss why the trick works!

#2. Slushies Without a Blender

Explore the magic of chemistry

Make your own "magic cubes":

  1. Pour a half cup of water, one teaspoon table salt, and four drops of food coloring in a plastic bag with a seal.
  2. Squeeze the air out of the bag, roll into a shape that will fit inside your jar and freeze overnight.

Make your slushy:

  1. Put your magic cube in a mason jar (keeping it sealed in the plastic bag) and add 6 ounces of fruit juice.
  2. Secure lid and shake.
  3. Shake for a few minutes and watch your juice become a slushy consistency.
  4. Remove your magic cube with it's bag, and pour your slushy into a glass and enjoy.

#3. Walk-through Paper Magic Trick

View a demonstration under Video Inspiration

  1. First, find your audience.  Ask them if they think you can cut a hole in the middle of a piece of paper that is big enough for you to walk through. 
  2. Start by folding the paper in half across the longest edge of the paper.
  3. With the folded edge at the bottom and the opening at the top, cut five lines through the crease toward the edge with the opening, stopping about 1 inch from the top.  You should now have six sections in your page.
  4. Next, cut four lines through the middle four sections, but you will start from the edge with the opening, and cut toward the folded edge, stopping about 1 inch from the folded edge.
  5. The final step is to cut through the crease (folded section) in the four middle sections along the bottom, making sure to not cut the crease in the sections on the edges. 
  6. Now, hold onto the outer edges of the paper, and pull them apart.  You should now have a hole big enough to walk through.

#4. Arrow Illusion

Explore the magic of light refraction

  1. Fill a clear glass with water.
  2. Draw an arrow on a note card or small square of stock paper.
  3. Place the note card behind the glass (arrow placed horizontally) and move the note card a few inches away from the glass, until you observe an interesting phenomenon while looking through the water.
  4. Make your best guess as to why this is occurring.  Experiment with different shapes, words, or pictures drawn on note cards to gather further observations.

#5. Magic Show

Social Distancing Activity

  1. Learn three new magic tricks.  We recommend this website with a few of our favorites. 
  2. Create a costume and stage name.
  3. Plan a Magic Show for your neighbors or a family member using a video conferencing platform.
  4. Share a photo on Gilbert House social media.

Our Magical Legacy: A.C. Gilbert

Gilbert House Children's Museum is named after the famous toy maker A.C. Gilbert.  He is most famous for inventing the Erector Set, but the first toy set his company produced was the Mysto Magic Set in 1909.  The sets were created for teens and included interlocking rings, playing cards, and a magic wand.  

Our favorite magical stories for children:

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Magic Treehouse Series by Mary Pope Osborn

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle


Follow along with board member Sasha Shay as she demonstrates the Walk-through Paper Magic Trick, step by step.

Photo credits and resources:  Reading Confetti; Physics Central;

Gilbert House Children's Museum

116 Marion St NE Salem, OR 97301