By Kevin Fabris

August 21, 2015

15 - 20 Minutes, Big Class, Big Room, Easy ESL Games,, EFL, ESL, Fun, Game, Learn It, Magic, Magic trick, Small Class, Some Materials Required, Speaking, Use It, Vocabulary, Young Learner

ESL Games are great for creating a need for your students to speak.  Today’s ESL magic trick will create a burning desire to speak.  Guaranteed!  Truth be told this isn’t my original trick.  I saw a teacher use this as his Introduction/Demo lesson and I along with everyone else in the room was completely blown away by it (thanks Daniel).

The language target is ordinal numbers: First, Second, Third and Fourth.  This lesson also has reading practice, a lot of extra language and of course.......MAGIC!

The Details:

  • Ideally, you’d be teaching this trick to a class of children between 5-10 years old.
  • Depending on the size of your class the trick should take between 15 and 20 minutes with larger classes taking longer.
  • If you’re using this as a demo lesson or first-day activity I’d suggest doing it at the end of class so that you leave the class on an unbelievable high note.

Materials required:

  • Enough balloons for every student in the class.
  • A packet of paper clips.
  • A whiteboard.
  • A marker.

How to:

1) Write, “First, blow up the balloon.” on the board.
2) Look at the board as if you’re puzzled and ask the class to read it with you.  As they sound the final word balloon smile and pull the balloons out of your pocket.
3) Have your students line up in a single file line and ask you for balloons.  It is remarkably easy to get any child to say, “May I have a blue balloon please?” if they get balloon directly afterward.
4) Blow up the balloons.

5) Once every student has a balloon write, “Second, tie the balloon.” on the board.
6) Make sure that everyone re-reads step 1 together before sounding out the second sentence out with your class. E.g. “First, blow up the balloon.” “Second, tie the balloon.”
7) Tie the balloons.  Depending on the ages of your students you might have to tie a lot of balloons at this point.
8) Write, “Third, open the paper clip” on the board.  Re-read steps 1 + 2 and then sound out the third sentence together.  As your reading the third step gesture open and once again act confused when you get to the word paperclip.
9) Pull your pack of paperclips out of your pocket and open one lengthwise so that it’s as flat as possible.  At this point the kids are all in.  Everyone should be extremely curious about what’s about to happen.

10) Have your class make a single file line so that they can ask you for a paper clip.  Here you should be recycling the language from step 3 “May I have a paper clip please?
11) Once all of your students have paper clips have them open them up as straight as possible.
12) Write, “Forth, put the paper clip in the balloon.” on the board.  Make sure to re-read steps 1-3 with the class before you sound out the fourth step.
13) Act really surprised when they say “Put the paperclip in the balloon.”  Pretend to put the paperclip into the balloon a few times.  Make sure you have a scared/unsure expression on your face.  This trick works best when you as the teacher really sell it.

14) As you’re gesturing the putting the paperclip in the balloon make sure your pointing the paperclip at the fattest part of the balloon.
15) Put the paperclip in the balloon.  The trick is you can pierce a balloon right at the bottom of the balloon really close to the knot with out it popping.  The balloon will have enough elasticity to close the tiny hole without much air escaping.
16) Make sure that when you put the paper clip into the balloon you’re holding the balloon with the knot facing yourself and the fat part of the balloon is facing the class. 

17) Once the paperclip is inside the balloon gently shake it so that your students can see that the clip is really inside the balloon.
18) Here’s the fun.  A few kids will be brave and try to put their paper clips into their balloons, which are guaranteed to pop.  Amazing!  At this point they should believe you’re a witch/wizard.
19) Have the students come towards you and show them that they can pierce the balloon near the knot.  Simply repeat “Fourth, put the paper-clip in the balloon” as you preform the trick with the balloon low with the knot facing your class.
20) Have your class try for themselves.  A few of them will surely pop their balloons or want to put lots of paper clips into their balloons so it’s good to have extra supplies.  Just make sure that if anyone needs another balloon or paper clip they use the target language.  “May I have a ________ please?
If you’ve timed your lesson properly your class should be just about finished at this point. All you have to do is say goodbye and let your legendary performance speak for itself.
I hope you love this magic trick as much as do. It’s easy enough to learn the first time you try it and it’s guaranteed to amaze.


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