Sometimes, magic happens in the classroom.
On Thursday, students in two Warren County School District classrooms practiced some magic tricks with Spencer's Theater of Illusion.
Kevin Spencer, Chase Billings, and Eli Erickson shared the secrets to three tricks with students in Life Skills classes at Warren Area Elementary Center and Youngsville Elementary Middle School.
Eli Erickson of Spencer’s Theater of Illusion teaches Youngsville Elementary Middle School student Noah Marintez how to perform the linking paper clips trick.
In the first trick, students learned how to tie a knot in a rope without letting go of either end. They had to essentially tie their arms in a knot to do it, providing some fun for them and some entertainment for those watching.
Next, Spencer demonstrated how to link two paper clips as they fly into the air using a dollar bill.
Finally, with the jumping rubber band, students moved a rubber band from two fingers to two other fingers with a mere wave of their hand.
Many of the students picked up the tricks very quickly and Spencer allowed them to demonstrate to him and before the whole class.
Spencer, whose work on magic tricks on special needs classrooms was recently published, said magic is an excellent tool for special needs students.
"All the things they struggle with, by learning a magic trick, they're not thinking about that," he said. "They want to learn this trick."
The process works through "planning and sequencing, organizing tasks and movements, and following directions," Spencer said.
"When was the last time you heard a student say, 'Look what I can do,'?" he said.
Students who are easily frustrated, work through that in their drive to complete the trick. "It helps them manage their frustration," Spencer said. "If we can't find ways like this to motivate these students, we're going to lose a lot of kids."
Sometimes, the students, because of their particular ways of thinking, learn the tricks more quickly than regular education students. "Magic is all about sequencing," Spencer said. That can lead to students who normally don't think it's cool to talk to special education students asking them for help. That trickle-down can reduce bullying and build self-esteem.
"It helps them see themselves differently," Spencer said. "It helps others see them differently."
"These are some of the most amazing kids in the world," Spencer said.
Spencer's Theater of Illusion is based in Virginia and Spencer said the group makes a point of visiting classrooms everywhere they go. "We try to work these in with every show," he said.
The visits were made possible through the Struthers Library Theatre Arts and Education Program sponsored by the DeFrees Family Memorial Fund.
Spencer's will perform tonight at the Library Theatre.