Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, a small number of education researchers evaluated the effectiveness of using magic tricks with students diagnosed with learning disabilities. The results demonstrate that:
- magic tricks offer a creative means for stimulating the senses in special education students (Frith & Walker, 1983);
- magic tricks enhance the learning experience and encourage creative problem- solving skills, observational techniques, and critical thinking (McCormack, 1985);
- magic tricks provide a strategy for building teamwork and self-esteem in children with Emotional Behavior Disorders (Broome, 1989); and
- teaching magic tricks in an educational setting can help students with learning differences attain higher self-esteem and self-confidence (Ezell & Ezell, 2003).
Hocus Focus™ Project
Since 2009, a developing interest in the benefits of learning and performing magic tricks as an approach to teaching functional and academic skills has led to new, innovative research. Hocus Focus™ is designed to give you all the necessary tools to bring a little magic into your students’ learning experience. Below you will find links to some of the existing research on the Hocus Focus™ Project.
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SPECIAL EDUCATION (PDF)
INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR TEACHER EDUCATION (PDF)
BRADLY WALKENHORST RESEARCH (PDF)
LEARNING THROUGH THE ARTS
Autism and Magic Tricks
Hocus Focus addresses some of the challenges that students with ASD face – challenges in behavior, social cognition, linguistics, motor coordination, and sensory abilities.
Learning magic tricks can:
- Encourage the child to be sociable, flexible, and cooperative when playing and/or studying with other children.
- Help the child recognize and implement the codes of social conduct, including the unwritten social rules and expectations of behavior that we all seem to know, but were never taught (the hidden curriculum).
- Encourage the child to have meaningful conversation, recognize and respond to facial expressions, and improve the understanding and expression of emotion.
- Encourage the child to understand different perspectives and the thoughts and feelings of others.
- Provide positive social experiences.
- Educate the child on the value of listening, giving and receiving compliments, giving appropriate criticism, and acknowledging they are “wrong” and learning from mistakes.
- Improve the child’s gross and fine motor skills.
“Our students with behavior disorders have a very hard time with frustration tolerance and task follow-through. I can see this being an enjoyable time where they are perfecting these skills without knowing it. We need to constantly find ways to reach our students and I appreciate the work you have done that gives us another tool in our belt. I have some students who definitely enjoy excessive attention. This gives them a way to get that attention appropriately, and, hopefully, become self sufficient so that they can feel good about themselves without the excessive external affirmation from others.”