“Magic is believing in yourself. If you can do that, you can make anything happen.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Many teachers deal with a learner motivation problem. Sometimes, we have tried doing our best to inspire our learners to explore the topic and be excited about learning. If you feel you are running out options in your bag of tricks, then this post is for you. Below are a list of 10 ideas to motivate your learners by using magic. Many of our learners enjoy the supernatural and are wowed by spells, optical illusions, and tricks. Try one of these ideas to bring a bit of magic and motivation to your class of language learners.
For this lesson, learners create magic potions they can drink. They imagine what their potions do by completing creative writing tasks.
- Tell your students they are good wizards or witches and will be creating their own spells to help their peers. You might want to introduce by drinking a fizzy drink and telling them what spell it has cast on you. Make sure it is a positive effect like smiling non-stop for an hour or laughing straight for 5 minutes, etc. (You are practicing verbs)
- Pair the students. Each pair consults in English for about 5 minutes. They must tell each other what kind of good spell they’d like the other to create. Have them brainstorm options then write these down. Here’s a free hand-out you can copy and adapt.
- Then have your students create a magic potion following one of the recipes below. They can drink each other’s and imagine the spell has been cast.
- Recipe for a magic potion with candy that fizzes. Great for when the kids are pretending to cast a spell and they can drink this.
- Recipe for a magical rainbow colored drink kids can drink. Comes with labels and visual instructions.
- Magic baking soda potion with visual instructions. (don’t drink)
After drinking the potions, have the students use one of these digital storytelling tools to tell a story or create a comic about drinking the magic potion and what happened next. They can use tools like Storybird, Zooburst, or LittleBirdTales. Your students do not have to register to create comics at WriteComics, Chogger, and MakeBeliefs. Alternatively, your students could use one of the digital storytelling tools to create a magic potion book where they include a picture of the potion, list the ingredients (can be made up) and list what the spell does. Stress positive spells so students aren’t tempted to create mean spells. This is a great way to also teach citizenship.
Teach your learners a magic trick as a class. You will need to get each of them the supplies. There are simple magic tricks like making a bill smile or you can choose from one of these easy and cheap tricks. Another option is to have your kids choose a magic trick to teach the class to do. You can put in a list of tricks with the website url printed on a paper strip. Put these strips in a bag and the student pulls out the trick they must demonstrate. You can have them demonstrate this on Youtube, create a how-to video using Educreations, or demonstrate through a class live presentation. Check out this video of how YL teacher, Barbi Bujtas, teaches her language learners with magic tricks.
Optical illusions are a great way to teach students about shape, light, patterns, colors, and vision. Here are some free lesson plans and resources:
- Lesson plan: students create an optical illusion
- Tons of optical illusions to use as discussion starters or to get them thinking at the beginning of class.
- Lesson plans, optical illusions, games and more!
Magical Music, Reads, & Films
These are some of my favorite books and films with magic. You can throw a party where the students dress up like a magical creature, witch, or wizard; make magic potions; teach others magic tricks; dance or karaoke to their favorite magical tunes: and watch a film or listen to you read a story to them.
Film Ideas (Please review & get permission from parents before showing any film or clip)
The Never Ending Story
How to Train Your Dragon
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Casper the Friendly Ghost
Puff the Magic Dragon
Abracadabra by the British Council Learn English
I’ve Got the Magic in Me by B.O.B
Do You Believe in Magic? by Aly and AJ (Kid’s version)
Puff the Magic Dragon song and video story
Captain’s Magic Buttons by The Wiggles
Magic can be found on mobile devices. Try any of the free apps below with your learners.
- My Magic Songs– songs and music videos where the student’s name is sung and they can even upload an image to star in the music video.
- Max and the Magic Marker– Draw interactive objects.
- The Wizard of Oz Interactive Activity Book for Android and for the iPad
- A Magic Paint Brush– kids color pictures then the characters come to life with the touch of a magic wand. They can even upload their own photos that will also be animated.
- SpellCraft School of Magic– role-playing game where the student goes to school and makes magic potions
- Easy Magic– Video tutorials and reveals for easy magic tricks
More Great Websites and Resources
Find more ideas and safe jokes to share with students using these websites:
- Boggles World Curriculum: Magic Potions– Lots of fantastic ideas, free hand-outs, listening activities, a story and more!
- Boggles World Curriculum: Spell Book– Lots of fantastic ideas, free hand-outs, a story and more!
- Witches Brew Curriculum
- Teach by Magic– A site full of videos and ideas so you can teach with magic year round
- Have students create messages in invisible ink
What other ideas do you have?