Place a half-opened penknife on the edge of the table and hang a large cooking-spoon by its hook on to the knife, just where the blade and handle join. Place the spoon so that its inner (concave) side is facing the table and, after swinging for a little while, the knife and spoon will keep still in perfect balance. Even if you fill the spoon with sand it will not fall, so long as the heaviest point is under the edge of the table.
The cooking-spoon is hung on to the half-opened penknife where the blade and the handle join, and you can now place the end of the knife-handle on the tip of your finger, on the edge of the table, or on the rim of a glass which is standing near the edge of the table, and your knife and spoon will balance perfectly, without falling over.
Bridge of Knives
Three knives may be supported by their handles in the following manner: Place three glasses in a triangle, each side of which must be about the length of one of the knives. The blade of the first knife should rest on the blade of the second, by passing over it near to the point where the handle and blade are joined; the blade of the second passing in the same manner over the blade of the third, which is to be made to rest on the blade of the first. The handles being then carefully placed upon the glasses, a bridge is formed strong enough to bear a considerable weight.
Here is a simple way of making shadow pictures: Place a candle on the table and fix a piece of white paper on the wall at the same height from the ground as the light is. Now place some non-transparent object, as, for instance, a large book, between the candle and the paper, and on one side of the table place a mirror so that it will reflect the light of the candle on to the paper on the wall. If you now put little cardboard figures between the candle and the mirror, a shadow will be thrown on the white paper and you can move your figures about just as you please.
Take a coin in each hand and stretch out your arms as far apart as you can. Then tell your audience that you will make both coins pass into one hand without bringing your hands together. This is easily done by placing one coin upon the table and then turning your body round until the hand with the other coin comes to where it lies. You can then easily pick the coin up, and both will be in one hand, while your arms are still widely extended.
Get a hard-boiled egg and place it on the reverse side of a smooth polished plate or bread-platter. If you now turn the plate round while holding it in a horizontal position, the egg, which is in the middle of it, will turn round also, and as the pace is quickened, the egg will move more and more quickly, until it stands up on one end and spins round like a top. In order to be quite sure that the experiment will succeed, you should keep the egg upright while it is being boiled, so that the inside may be hardened in the proper position.
For this trick, take a piece, two or three inches long, of a stem of a clay tobacco pipe, taking care that one end is quite even; with a knife or file, work the hole at the even end larger, so as to form a little cup. Choose the roundest pea you can find, place it in the cup, and blow softly through the other end of the pipe, throwing back your head while you blow, so that you can hold the pipe in an upright position over your mouth.
The pea will rise, fall and dance in its cup, according to the degree of force you use in blowing, but you must take care not to blow too hard, or you may blow it away altogether.
Find an Object While Blindfolded
To play this trick, you must take one of your friends into your confidence. Borrow a watch and put it in your pocket, and then ask your audience to sit at the end of the room, blindfold your friend, and lead him outside. Now say: "Ladies and gentlemen, if you will give me some small object to hide, I promise that the blind man will find it, although I shall not even tell him what he is to look for, and I shall lower the gas, so that if the bandage should slip, he will still be unable to see." A key, pencil, or any small thing having been handed to you, lower the gas and proceed to hide the object, at the end of the room, mentioning where you have put it, but not mentioning that you have placed the watch close beside it. You then request "Silence" and lead in the blind man and ask him to begin his search. He is guided, of course, by the ticking of the watch, and knows that whatever he finds close to it is the object hidden. When he calls "Found," he must slip the watch into his pocket. You then turn up the gas and quietly ask your audience if they do not think your friend is a very clever fellow?
Force of a Water Drop
Get a match and make a notch in the middle of it, bend it so as to form an acute angle, and place it over the mouth of a bottle. Now place a dime or other small coin on the match and ask any one to get the coin into the bottle without touching either the bottle or the match.
This is very easy to do. Dip your finger in a glass of water, hold it over the place where the match is notched, and let one or two drops fall on this point. The force of the water will cause the sides of the angle to move apart, and the opening thus become large enough to let the coin fall into the bottle.
It is very difficult to explain how these shadows should be made, but you must bear in mind the fact that it is necessary to stand between the lamp and the wall, and extend your arms so that the shadow of your body does not interfere with the picture shadows you intend to make with your hands. The illustrations given will show you how to make two very good shadow pictures, but the fun of the game is for several people to make up pictures of their own, and see who can succeed in making the best.
In order to make these, you must stand in the corner of the room, near a mirror. Let some one hold a light behind you, so that the shadow of your head and shoulders will be thrown upon the wall, and also that the reflected light from the mirror will fall at exactly the same spot as the shadow of your head.
If the mirror is now covered with a piece of thick paper, from which two eyes, a nose, and a mouth are cut out, the effect shown in the drawing will be produced. In order to make the shadow still more lifelike, cut out two pieces of paper, fasten one over the mirror, and move the other over it. In this way the eyes and mouth of the shadow may be made to move.
Soak a piece of thread in a solution of salt or alum (of course, your audience must not know you have done this). When dry, borrow a very light ring and fix it to the thread. Apply the thread to the flame of a candle; it will burn to ashes, but will still support the ring.
Man With His Head the Wrong Way
This is a fun trick to do at a Halloween or costume party, the Man with His Head the Wrong Way. Put on a coat and vest so that they fasten behind. Then fix a mask over the back of the head and a wig over the face. The effect is very curious.
This seems to be a plain wooden ball with a hole bored in its center, through which a string is passed. The ball will move lightly up and down this cord, but let some one who knows the trick take the string in his hand and it becomes quite a different matter; the ball will move quickly, or slowly, at command, and, if told to do so, will stand still until ordered to move on again.
The reason for this peculiar behavior is that inside the ball there are two holes, one of which is quite straight, while the other is curved, and turns out of the straight hole.
It is through this curved passage that the cord is passed, and you can easily see that to regulate the movements of the ball, it is only necessary to hold the string more or less tightly. If you hold the cord perfectly tight, the ball will not be able to move at all. The ball can be purchased at any top shop.
Take a small cork and ask some one to blow it into a fairly large sized, ordinary bottle that has a neck.
This seems to be quite an easy matter. The one who tries it will probably blow as hard as possible upon the little cork; but, instead of going into the bottle, as expected, it will simply fall down. The harder the puffs or blows, the more obstinate the cork will appear to be; and even if the effect of blowing gently be tried, it will be of no use; the cork will not go into the bottle, much to the amusement of those who are watching. The reason why the cork will not go in is this: The bottle being already full of air, when the cork is blown, more air will be forced into the bottle, and consequently the air inside will be greatly compressed and will simply force the cork back. The following is a simple way of overcoming the difficulty: Instead of trying to force the cork through the compressed air in the bottle, just the contrary should be tried, that is, some of the air should be sucked out of the bottle; this being done, the bottle will become partly emptied, and when the outside air rushes in to fill up the empty space, it will carry the cork with it to the bottom of the bottle.
Take a piece of elastic which is not covered with silk or wool, and through the middle of this stick a pin, which you have bent as shown in the illustration.
Now hold the elastic between the thumb and first finger of each hand and twirl it round, stretching it a little at the same time. The rapid movement thus caused will make the revolving pin look like a glass object, and if you have a strong light falling on the pin and a dark background behind it, the resemblance becomes very much stronger.
After a little practice you will be able to represent many things in this way—cheese dishes, vases, champagne glasses, etc.; and if the bent pin should fall into a horizontal position while revolving, on account of its shape, you can tie one end to the elastic with a piece of white thread, which will not in any way interfere with the working.This trick looks well in a darkened room, when the pin is illuminated by a ray of sunlight coming through a hole in the window shutter.
For this game you require a white sheet to be hung up at the end of the room. Then the "shadow-makers" take up their places on low stools behind the sheet. There must be only one lamp in the room, which should be placed about six or seven feet behind the "shadow-makers." Then the "shadow-makers" drape themselves with shawls, or anything handy, and take their places so that their shadows are thrown upon the sheet. They must, of course, try to disguise themselves, so that the "shadow-seekers" may not be able to guess their identity. By loosening the hair and letting it fall over the face, a girl may appear like a man with a beard; bending the finger over the nose gives one a very queer-looking hooked nose in the shadow, and entirely alters the appearance of the face. Covering one's self up in a sheet and then extending the arms gives one the appearance of a large bat. As soon as a "shadow-maker's" identity has been guessed he must take his place as a "shadow-seeker," and the one who guessed him becomes a "shadow-maker." The penalty of a glance behind the sheet on the part of the "shadow-seeker" is to pay a forfeit.
A fun activity to play in science class is the Swimming Needles. There are several ways of making a needle float on the surface of the water.
The simplest way is to place a piece of tissue paper on the water and lay the needle on it; the paper soon becomes soaked with water and sinks to the bottom, while the needle is left floating on the top.
Another method is to hang the needle in two slings made of threads, which must be carefully drawn away as soon as the needle floats.
You can also make the needle float by simply holding it in your fingers and laying it on the water. This, however, requires a very steady hand.
If you magnetize a sewing-needle by rubbing it on a fairly strong magnet and float it on the water, it will make an extremely sensitive compass; and if you place two needles on the water at the same time, you will see them slowly approach each other until they float side by side, that is, if they do not strike together so heavily as to cause them to sink.
The Sentinel Egg
This trick requires care and patience. You must lay a piece of looking-glass on a perfectly even table; then take a new-laid egg and shake it about for some time until the white is well mixed with the yolk. In this condition it is possible to balance the egg on its end and make it stand upright on the glass. This trick is more certain to be successful if you are clever enough to flatten the end ever so slightly and evenly, by giving it a gentle and unsuspected tap.
The Wonderful Pendulum
If you fill a wineglass with water and place a thick piece of paper over it so that no air can get in, you will find that you can turn the glass upside down without spilling a drop of water, because the pressure of the air on the outside will keep the paper from falling off. It is on this principle that the present pendulum is to be made. Take a piece of cardboard larger than the mouth of the glass; pass a cord through a small hole in the center of the card, and fasten it by means of a knot on the under side, then carefully cover the hole with wax, so that no air may get in.
Place your cardboard over the glass full of water, and by making a loop in the end of the cord you can hang the glass from a hook in the ceiling without any fear of its falling off. In order to make sure that no air can get into the glass, it is wise to smear the rim with tallow before laying the cardboard on.
Think of a Number
Tell some one to think of any number he likes, but not to tell you what it is. Tell him then to double it. When he has done that, let him add an even number to it, which you must give him. After doing this, he must halve the whole, then from what is left, take away the number he first thought of. When this is completed, if he has counted correctly, you will be able to give him the exact remainder, which will simply be the half of the even number you told him to add to his own.
To Balance a Coffee Cup
The articles necessary for the performance of this trick are very simple, a dinner-fork and an ordinary sized cork being all that are needed. Fix the cork firmly in the handle of the fork, then stick the fork into it so that two prongs shall be on each side of the cup handle, and slope the fork in such a way that its handle will come under the bottom of the cup. The heaviest weight being thus brought underneath, you can hold the cup on the point of a knife, if you very carefully find the exact place on which it will balance.
As the surface of the cup is usually glazed, the hand which holds the knife must not tremble, or the cup will slip off. You may also obtain the same result by using two knives instead of a fork.
To Guess Two Ends of a Line of Dominoes
For this trick a whole set of dominoes is required, the performer taking care to hide one of the set, not a double, in his pocket. The remaining dominoes should be shuffled, and placed according to the ordinary rules of domino games, and the performer undertakes to tell, without seeing them, the two numbers forming the extremes of the line, set during his absence from the room. The numbers on the extreme ends of the domino line will be exactly the same as the numbers on the domino which the performer has in his pocket. If he is asked to repeat the trick, he should be sure to change the hidden domino, or he may chance to be found out.
To Light a Snowball with a Match
This is a snowy day game for a science class. Roll a snowball and put it on a plate. While rolling, contrive to slip a piece of camphor into the top of it. The camphor must be about the size and shape of a chestnut, and it must be pushed into the soft snow so as to be invisible—the smaller end uppermost, to which the match should be applied. The adult teacher should be handling the matches.
Stick a small piece of white wax (or gum) on the nail of the middle finger of your right hand, taking care that no one sees you do it. Then place a dime in the palm of your hand and tell your audience that you can make it vanish at the word of command.
You then close your hand so that the dime sticks to the waxed nail. Blow on your hand and make magic passes, and cry "Dime, begone!" Open your hand so quickly that no one will see the dime stuck to the back of your nail, and show your empty hand. To make the dime reappear, you merely close you hand again and rub the dime into your palm.