A simple magic trick to teach kids the verb estar.

My Peruvian son-in-law, Jorge, does a simple magic trick little children love. Our family was together in Mexico over winter break and he mentioned that it might work for Spanish learners. Note that I have managed to convince my entire family that they should think about language learning all the time!

This simple magic trick can be used with language learners in 3 ways: watching the video Jorge made for me, learning to do the trick for your students or children, and teaching kids to do the trick themselves. You can see the video below and on the Spanish Playground YouTube Channel.

Watching the Video with Spanish Learners

Watching the video of this simple magic trick introduces basic phrases in a fun context. The key phrases are Está aquí, No está aquí, ¿Dónde está? and Aquí está. They will also learn oso and truco de magia.

As the video starts, point to the picture of the bear using the word oso so that kids have the vocabulary in mind. You might want to pause the video and talk about truco de magia. Kids who read will see the word trick in truco and magic in magia.

Kids will understand the Spanish from the context as they watch the video. You can reinforce the key language by pausing the video when the bear disappears and repeating ¿Dónde está el oso? and El oso no está.

Doing the Simple Magic Trick Yourself

Thrill your students by learning to do this simple magic trick! Use the basic language in the video or adapt the language to their level by change the verbs. You can use se fue, ¿a dónde fue?, se desapareció, apareció, etc.

To do the trick:

1. Make a small figure or use a small piece of paper (a good way to teach papelito). Stick the paper to the top of the back of your thumb with a small piece of tape. Use your right thumb if you are right-handed and your left thumb if you are left handed.

Step one of a simple magic trick for kids learning Spanish.

2. Hold your hand so that you cover the bottom of the paper with your curled fingers.

Step 2 of a magic trick in Spanish.

3. Use your other hand as the “magic wand” and a distraction, by passing it over the paper.

Step three of a magic trick for Spanish learners.

4. As you pass your other hand over, straighten your thumb and open your hand.

In Step 4 of this simple magic trick, the bear disappears.

5. The paper will be hidden behind your thumb. Show the kids your empty hands.

The last step of a magic trick for language learners.

6. To make the paper reappear, do the same motion in reverse – bring your other hand down over the paper as you bend your thumb and curl your fingers.

Teaching Kids to do the Magic Trick in Spanish

Learning to do magic tricks is an excellent language activity. Magicians distract their audiences by talking, so it is part of the trick. Also, kids need to practice the trick which builds in repetition.

You can help kids script simple magic tricks like the one in the video by giving them the key phrases they need at certain points and some support vocabulary. If it is appropriate to their level, help them add and adapt the language so the trick feels like their own.

Encourage kids to practice the language and the movements separately first. When they put the two parts together, don’t worry about mistakes. With a little practice, they will be able to do this simple magic trick in Spanish and impress their family and friends!

Related Printables

Spanish Playground has a free printable set of figures that includes a larger version of the bear and his friends. There is also a story about them. The printable figures are perfect for playing hiding games to reinforce ¿Dónde está el oso? with your littlest learners.

Printable Spanish Story and Scene: El oso y sus amigos
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