Aaron - Oneonta World of Learning

Enriching Life

Through Play



Tuesday, 23 November 2010 01:50


Are you planning to travel this holiday season?  Have you been hearing about the new security measures?  Are you wondering how to explain this to your child?  Try speaking to your child about surprises and secrets.

Surprises are made better by keeping secrets.  Surprise birthdays are extra special when you believe everyone has forgotten your birthday, only to find out your closest friends and relatives have been planning and plotting behind your back.   These secrets that people keep can make ordinary events extra special.

Those of you who came to Science Saturday last month, learned about keeping secrets using disappearing ink.   Magic is based on keeping a secret.  Have you tried card tricks with your children?  Fan out a deck of cards and ask your child to pick a card.  Tell them to remember their card.   Remind them to think about what color, shape and number a card is.  Ask your child to put the card back into the deck. 


Shuffle or have your child “cut” the deck.   Please note that this might be a time to familiarize your child with the different meanings of words.  I am sure you don’t want your child taking a pair of scissors to your playing cards. 


You will magically go through the deck to find their card.  Stop reading aloud if you are reading with your child.  Here is the secret.  At this point if your child is around the age of 4-7, they will not pay attention to where the card goes.   You can know where the card is in one of two ways, when your child puts the card in the middle of the deck, immediately cut the deck so that the card that your child has selected is immediately on top OR take a quick peek at the selected card as you are cutting the deck to shuffle.  Getting the card to the top allows for more advanced tricks.  Now you can remove the card –I like to throw the card on the floor - it is easy to do quickly and it adds to the shock.  I have been able to get the card on the chair where one of my boys is sitting.  It is great to see their faces when they find out they have been sitting on their card.

Sometimes surprises and secrets are not good.  This is when secrets and surprises are meant to hurt others.  These types of secrets have to be stopped.  That is why they have “secret stoppers” in airports.  Some people keep secrets inside their bodies or clothes.  Explaining to children how you can hide a secret in your clothes is easy.  It can be fun to make a game of “Guess what’s in my pocket”.  To get children to understand how we can find out what is inside your body is a little more difficult.  Try this activity.

You will need:


  • A balloon
  • Small objects

A balloon that is light in color but not too light works best. Take a balloon and insert a small object. A marble, lego, or even a crayon can work well.  Be careful around toddlers and infants and be sure to clean up any rubber balloon pieces as well.  Blow up the balloon and show the balloon to your child.  The balloon should look opaque when held down, but when held up to the light we can see the shapes of what is inside the balloon.  Explain to your child that this is what the “secret stoppers” at the airports are doing.

Be sure to let us know what worked well in your balloons.  Share with us your story of surprises.  Good Luck and Happy Holidays.


Guess what's inside

Hold the balloon to the light