Colorado School Assemblies — Brad Montgomery’s Magic of Books!

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This is a guide for a school assembly program call the Magic of Books. This purpose of this guide is to give to your teachers in advance of the assembly. Teachers need to know that the assembly is relevant and helpful…and is totally consistent with their goals in the classroom.

In our experience, some teachers love to learn from this guide. Some love to use ideas right out of it. And some just like to understand that the assembly program isn’t just a magic show… it’s a motivational reading assembly disguised as a magic show. Questions? Give us a call!

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School Assembly Educators’ Guide

I. What is the Magic of Books

The Magic of Books is a motivational reading and literacy program disguised as a hilarious magic show. Throughout the audience participation-based magic program, Brad Montgomery teaches that students can reach their goals through reading. Whether they are interested in history or skateboards, geography or yo-yo tricks, literature or video games, they can learn more from library books.
The success of the program lies in the fact that it is a serious program packaged in an appealing and “digestible” form for school children. They laugh; they’re fooled; they relax. And they learn.

What to Expect

Brad Montgomery starts the program with 10-12 minutes of pure fun. Through audience participation, magic, and his own blend of comedy, he gets the kids to relax. They’re having fun. They’re ready to listen. By the time they start to think to themselves, “Hey, this is cool! I wonder if I could learn how to do those tricks?” Brad answers that question. Brad teaches that he learned all of his tricks from books. If they want to learn how to do magic tricks, they too can learn from books.

Brad uses magic – an art form kids are already attracted to – to push reading. He then connects this literacy message to their hobbies. After some discussion about what the students are interested in today (bicycles, the Denver Broncos, video games, chocolate chip cookies, etc.), he explains that books and hobbies are related: whatever excites them can be further explored through books.

Brad holds himself out as an example. He learned those cool tricks by reading about them. He is proof: he’s not a real magician. He’s a normal guy who just happened to read some really cool stuff.

This literacy program takes a non-academic approach to reading motivation. By emphasizing learning about hobbies (sports, kite making, drawing, etc.) the students associate fun with learning and reading. School and traditional “academic reading” topics are purposely ignored.

Another important characteristic of this program is that the message is hidden in the program. There are no speeches. No lectures. No preaching. But generously sprinkled throughout the comedy and the magic are juicy bits of the literacy message. (It’s fun to note that younger kids often don’t realize it’s a reading program; they think it’s just a funny magic show. And coincidentally they were drawn to the library that afternoon!) In fact, Brad prefers that the kids are not told beforehand that it is indeed a Books and Literacy program. Just tell them it will be a magic show and let Brad sneak in the message when they’re most ready to accept it.

In short, the Magic of Books is a extremely important literacy message packaged in such a way that is easily digested and appreciated by elementary school audiences. Reading is fun. Reading is cool. Reading is magic.

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II. Pre- and Post – Assembly Curriculum Activities

A. Reading and Writing

·Discuss the difference between written and oral instructions?
·Have students write instructions for some simple activity. (Brushing teeth, combing hair, drawing a smiley-face, etc.) Then have another student read the instructions. A third student follows – as literally as possible – the instructions. Discuss the effectiveness of these instructions. Discuss the difficulty of creating accurate instructions.
·Have students read instructions for a magic trick. (Or you can read the trick aloud to them.) Have them follow the instructions to learn the trick.
·Have students bring in (from home or the library) a book about magic. Discuss why this is/isn’t a favorite and any memories associated with it.
·Ask the students to record any new words they learn from the program. (Possible vocabulary words include conjuring, prestidigitation, sleight-of-hand, illusion, magic, trick, stunt, comedy, baffle, audience, and humor)
·Have students make a promotional brochure, advertising poster or flyer that they would share with other children about a magic act they might do. What parts of their show would they describe?
·Have the students read about historical magicians. (Such as Houdini.) Discuss the differences between famous magicians of yesteryear and magicians of today.
·Have students perform in front of their class a trick they have learned from a book. Have them write out a script for their trick. Have them describe on paper and orally their impressions of that performance. Were they scared? Nervous? Excited? Proud?

Standards Support

1: Students read and understand a variety of materials.
2: Students write and speak for a variety of purposes and audiences.
3: Students write and speak using conventional grammar, usage, sentence structure, punctuation, capitalization and spelling.
4: Students apply thinking skills to their reading, writing, speaking, listening and viewing.
5: Students read to locate, select, and make use of relevant information of a variety of media, reference and technological sources.

B. Mathematics

·Discuss a deck of playing cards in terms of numbers. How many cards? Suits? Face Cards? Black and red cards? Use multiplication, subtraction, addition and division to find mathematical relationship within a pack of cards. (For example: 4 (suits) times 13 (cards per suit) equals 52 (cards in a pack).
·Discuss probability (or fractions) as it relates to a pack of playing cards. (What is the probability of selecting an Ace of Spades from a pack of 52? A black card? A face card? A club?)
·Discuss geometric shapes that appear in magic shows.
·Have students learn a magic trick based on math principals. (Many magic tricks require the use of math to perform the trick; in other tricks, math is involved in the secret of the trick.)
·Discuss the students different hobbies. What is their favorite hobby? How many hobbies do they have? Ask students to record these numbers.
·Have students create graphs of the collected information.
·Using the above information and graphs, have students organize the statistics from the most uncommon hobbies to the most common hobbies. Discuss pattern and slope of a graph created from these numbers.

Standards Support

1: Students use algebraic methods to explore, model, and describe patterns and functions. involving numbers, shapes, data and graphs in problem-solving situations and communicate the reasoning used in solving these problems.
3: Students use data collection and analysis, statistics, and probability in problem-solving situations and communicate the reasoning in solving these problems.
5: Students use a variety of tools and techniques to measure, apply the results in problem-solving situations, and communicate the reasoning used in solving these problems.
6: Students link concepts and procedures as they develop and use computational techniques, including estimation, mental arithmetic, paper and pencil, calculators, and computers, in problem solving situations and communicate the reasoning used in solving these problems.

C. Visual Arts

·Have your students read about magic tricks they can make. Then use commonly found materials to create them. Have the students decorate them to make them pleasing to the eye.
·Discuss what shapes and looks are common in different magic shows. How do different magicians dress? Do different magicians decorate their props and stage differently? How and why?
·Discuss the colors and shapes that appear on a pack of playing cards. (Hearts, spades, etc.) What do the back of playing cards look like? Do different brands have different art on the back?
·Discuss whether magic is an “art.” Why or why not?
·Have students make a promotional brochure, advertising poster or flyer that they would share with other children about a magic act they might do. What parts of their show would they describe?

Standards Support

1: Students recognize and use the visual arts as a form of communication.
2: Students know and apply elements of art, principles of design, and sensory and expressive features of visual arts.
3: Students know and apply visual arts materials, techniques, and processes

III. Resources

William Tarr. Now You See It Now You Don’t: Lessons in Sleight of Hand. Vintage Books, 1976
Shawn McMaster 60 Super Simple Magic Tricks, Lowell House
Bill Severn (Almost anything by Bill Severn is great, including…)
Magic Across the Table
Amazing Magic
Magic in the Mind
Magic for Everyone
Magic With Coins and Bills Various publishers
Rose Wyler Funny Magic: Easy Magic for Young Magicians Parents Magazine Press
Rose Wyler Spooky Magic Tricks Harper Collins
Robert Lopshire It’s Magic! MacMillan Press
Larry Kettlekamp Magic Made Easy Morrow Press
Ivan Bulloch I Want to Be a Magician Two-Can Publishing
Dennis Patton My Magic Book Western Publishing Company

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