It’s Just Like Magic

Just about everyone—young, old, and everything in between—is fascinated by magic, especially the kind that involves transforming objects from one thing into another. This week, we take a look at a number of terrific family activities that do exactly that, whether it’s changing a 10 of Clubs into a 10 of Heart, a bunch of powered ingredients into delicious cupcakes, or a locked safe into an unlocked one.


Magic: Silver Edition (Thames & Kosmos)

magic, silver editionLong before Harry Potter and his friends at Hogwarts took over the world, kids and adults wished they could conjure things out of nowhere and make them vanish again, turn apples into oranges, and make objects float in midair. With this kit, you’ll be able to perform jaw-dropping feats of magic that will captivate and delight your audience (and probably amaze yourself in the process). It comes with props and instructions to do 100 tricks: knots in one rope jump to another, a wand levitates, coins pass through objects and disappear, a small pile of sugar turns into a sugar cube, and a lot more. The kit comes with a nicely illustrated 72-page instruction manual, but there are also 26 online video tutorials so your budding Houdini can see the tricks actually being performed. If you like this Silver Edition, there are several larger sets (150 and 200 tricks). For ages 8 and up. About $21 at many retailers.

Chocolate Pen (Real Cooking)

chocolate pen real cookingNow you and your little bakers can get your inner chocolatier on and create some very professional-looking (not to mention tasty) treats. The kit comes with four pre-loaded pouches (each with a different flavor and color). Melt the chocolate by dropping the pouches into hot water. Then, put the pouch into your pen handle (batteries required but not included) and you’re ready to go. Write words or letters to customize cakes and cookies, draw shapes, or use the included molds to make guitars, hearts, rainbows, and more. Since each pouch has its own writing tip, switching colors is a breeze. The chocolate hardens fairly quickly at room temperature, even faster if you put it in the freezer. Clean up is easy. For ages 6 and up. About $25.


Ultimate Baking Starter Set (Real Cooking)

ultimate baking starter real cookingThis well-designed, kid-friendly kit comes with real kitchen tools that make cooking fun—and a lot less messy. It includes two non-spill bowls, measuring cups, a whisk, a pastry bag with tip, spatula, 16 silicon cupcake liners, a one-touch egg cracker that eliminates the need to fish around in the yolk to remove pieces of shell, and most of the ingredients to make eight magical tuxedo cupcakes and eight sprinkle surprise cupcakes. Of course, you’ll have to provide the eggs, butter, and milk (but you wouldn’t want those items to come in the box anyway, right?). For ages 6 and up—but only with adult supervision, because you’ll need to use a real oven to bake your treats. About $45 at retailers everywhere.


Electronic Safe Breaker (Yulu)

electronic safe breaker yuluWhen this battery-operated safe closes, the combination is set to a random number. Players pick a card and turn the combination lock to the number on the card. They then use the fingerprint scanner to test the number. If it’s correct, the safe opens and releases some coins. If it’s not, the player uses the spy stethoscope to get a private audio hint: a high beep means the actual combination is higher than the card played; a low beep means it’s lower. Be the first to open the safe, and you get the coins. Most coins wins, of course. But beware the alarm coin, which means you have to put all your treasure back into the safe. The game combines equal parts deductive reasoning and luck and will be fun for 2-4 players, ages 6 and up.