I bought the John Adams Science is Magic set for my 7 year old nephew for his birthday. He adores magic and as it is aimed at 7 years + I figured it would be perfect for him. However when I spoke to my sister in law and told her I'd bought him this, she had unfortunately also bought him it for his birthday. I had bought mine online so would be a faff to return but knew my eldest daughter would be interested in it so decided to keep it for her and buy him something else. My daughter is massively in to magic at the moment. I went to school with Stephen Frayne (aka Dynamo: my claim to fame haha!) and so she adores anything magic at the moment so I knew it would be a hit.
Basically the magic kit is a big cardboard box. It's full of all things magic related, although I will be honest from the get go that I was slightly disappointed with it as a whole. I think the main problem is the age range it is directed at. I would say that for the age range of 7+, I would have expected something a little more sophisticated than it was. Don't get me wrong, I don't want my daughter to be vanishing in a cloud of dust or anything like that, but I would have expected 'more' from it. I think, had the age range been a little younger, perhaps 5+, my thoughts on it would have been different.
The main premise of the contents of the box is optical illusions using 3D and mirrors, and magic, however the sad looking flimsy optical illusions are nothing you can't find online and they are very basic. The optical illusion posters (a3 size) are a bit sad looking and like I said are ones that you will have seen before. To be fair, my daughter was impressed but soon bored of them and didn't want to go back to them later. When I removed them from the box, the first thing my daughter said (although admittedly she did say it with enthusiasm) was 'oh yeah, I've seen these before'. There are other optical illusions which involves a rather sad pair of paper 3D glasses which were flimsy and seemed very out-dated in comparison to the 3D technology we now have available to us as consumers. My daughter actually asked if she could use her 3D glasses (the black plastic ones) which we bought not so long ago at the cinema, but unfortunately we couldn't find them, so she sat with these 'one size fits all' paper 3D glasses on that were more of a nuisance than anything. The small deck of cards that come with the set include 3D scenes on them, but pretty much like the previous optical illusions I was very unimpressed with them and even my daughter wasn't overly bothered by these ones. I think the excitement of what 'might' be in the box carried her more than what actually was in the box.
The favourite thing of my daughters was making a 3D warthog. It did require a little bit of patience though as while we were gluing it together it kept unsticking and required something a little bit stronger. I was on the verge of stapling it together before my husband intervened with some stronger glue.
There are plenty of instructions on how to do tricks which the things you need aren't included, which I was a bit miffed about. The one that springs to mind most is the trick whereby you fill a pen without ink full of lemon juice, write something on paper and then heat the paper with a candle. Several things annoyed me about this particularly one. Firstly, where on earth am I to find a pen without ink in it, secondly, how on earth do I then pour lemon juice into a tiny pen, and thirdly who in their right mind would let a 7 year old lose with a lit candle and some paper??! Yes obviously this is meant to be under adult supervision, but I just see a disaster waiting to happen. Needless to say, we didn't attempt this one.
The kit is meant to support the national curriculum which was one of the deciding factors when I bought it for my nephew, however I would just stick to learning at school! It does teach a little about physics, with the aid of a phoenix which balances on the edge of your finger, a spinning broomstick or with the warthog that appears to move its head to follow you around the room. The instruction book is good, and helps to teach you how to do the tricks and illusions.
I have in the past, bought boxes of magic tricks for class friends of my daughters when she has been invited to parties and it has been reported back to me that they were excellent and great fun. There are obviously decent magic tricks out there for younger children, but this unfortunately isn't one of them. We have been impressed by John Adams in the past with other things we have bought, this obviously must just be a blip.
Either the price or the age group needs to change.
Play the role of the magician with all the right props.