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What sort of magic kit should I buy for my child?

Oddly enough, this is a question that I don't get asked that much. I suppose I could say it's because most kids aren't into magic nowadays due to high tech entertainment, etc, but I'm not sure that really makes that much of a difference as I had high tech entertainment when I was a kid - granted, not as high tech as it is now - and I was still very much into magic.

I am glad to say, however, that there seems to be a lot more variety in the shops nowadays when it comes to magic kits for children. I only seem to recall magic kits by Paul Daniels, Wayne Dobson and the odd trick by Tenyo here and there. Daniels and Dobson were very much the two magicians of the time when I was a kid - at least in the UK - so, naturally they had a lot of merchandise in the shops.

Magic kits have certainly been around before Daniels and Dobson though. When I paid my first visit to The Magic Circle in London several years ago, I saw that they had on display several magic kits for children from the fifties, sixties and seventies. There was a kit by British magician, David Nixon, a kit by everyone's favourite bear, Sooty and a kit by one of the greats of comedy magic, Tommy Cooper.

There are so many magic kits for kids around nowadays and they come in all shapes and sizes. You can buy single tricks or a whole magic show in one box. But, which should your child start out with?

Of course, there is no 'right' or 'wrong' about that question. Most of the tricks you can get in magic kits will be relatively easy to learn and most of the props you can get nowadays are so much more well made than the kits I used to own. My generation usually refers to magic kits as 'plastic magic kits' because most of the props were plastic and didn't last very long. Nowadays, however, you can get really good quality tricks made from brass, etc. I still have a brass trick from a kids magic kit that I bought when I was about fifteen and I still use it to this day!

So, what sort of kit should you buy for your child? Does it depend on their age? Does it depend on what sort of magic they are in to? Does it depend on budget? Does it depend on how dedicated they are? Does it depend on difficulty levels? Well, like I mentioned just now, there is no right or wrong answer about what kind of magic kit to buy your child. However, there is one answer I will give that I hope will guide you in the right direction in helping your child start out in magic -

Don't buy them a magic kit.

Now, I honestly don't mean that in a negative way and I certainly don't mean to say that magic kits are terrible. They're not. As mentioned, I still use several tricks from my old magic kits to this day and they're great. But, when I suggest not to buy your child a magic kit, what I mean is don't buy them a magic kit AT FIRST.

In my experience, this is a common misconception. Buy them a magic kit and then they'll be able to perform magic. Well, I don't think that's necessarily true. Magic kits have the tricks and well made props, but keep in mind that there is more to learn besides the actual tricks. Magic is performance, presentation, confidence, etc.

I can remember being given my magic kits as a child and, for the most part, they never got used. I mean, I would play around with the props and pretend to be a magician, etc, but I never really took the time to properly learn the tricks. It's not that I didn't want to be a magician - of course, I did - but, I was a kid, I didn't want to sit and take the time to learn the tricks properly. I wanted to perform and show off to my friends and family.

It wasn't until I was in my mid-teens that I had decided to properly pursue magic as a profession as well as a hobby and that is when I started to familiarise myself with the business of magic and the kind of magic I wanted to learn and that is when I started to properly learn magic.

So, what am I saying?

If your child wants to get into magic that is great! However, if you're thinking of buying them a magic kit straight off the bat, hold your horses and think about other ways to encourage them and enhance their passion for magic. I was given a Paul Daniels video when I was a kid and I couldn't stop watching it. It may not have been teaching me how to do magic tricks, but watching him perform and the styles and visuals certainly kept me hooked and taught me a lot later in life.

I also owned some great books on magic when I was younger but, as mentioned, I wasn't really interested in reading instructions or properly learning magic tricks. The books I had, however, were very visual and taught me not just about learning tricks, but also how to perform them.

For example, I can remember one of my books taught me how to do that old gag where you peek around a corner and reach around from behind with your hidden arm to grab yourself as if it's someone else. But, it didn't just teach the trick, it also showed very detailed drawings about how to stand and how to present yourself as you do it. Those types of books always kept me very engaged.

And, of course, there is one thing that the lucky kids have nowadays that I certainly didn't have when I was little. YouTube! There are some great magic shows for youngsters on YouTube nowadays and they can certainly pick up some great ideas to think about.

Anything visual can keep your child engaged with magic and heighten their passion, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a tutorial. I would suggest you start them off with helping them build their ideas on magic and on what sort of magic they want to perform. Then, if and when the time comes, you won't have to ask what sort of magic kit should I buy for my child - they'll be able to tell you ;)

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