I am pretty sure the 3 x 3 matrix prediction originated (or was first published) by Martin Gardner, but since its first appearance, many magicians have created their own versions, using different themes for the nine "spots: in the matrix grid. I first learned this neat piece of mathe-magic when I got Tony Spina's "Room for Doubt" back in the 1970's. Another cool version was put out by Milton Bradley, as part of their Talking MagicWorks series, and was called Guardian of the Grave.
This version is themed around "what do you want to be when you grow up?", using colorful graphics, so it is perfect for showing to kids. The magi (that's you), shows nine blank business cards, each has been printed with a different possible "career". (See the photo and you will know what I mean). The nine cards are laid out on the table in a 3-by-3 grid, so the kids can see all the possible careers. You also show a small envelope and hand it to your volunteer, asking her to place the envelope on any one of the cards. You then hand another child a larger card with "the 8 steps of Destiny" printed on it. That child reads the steps aloud, one at a time. For example, the first step says, "move the envelope seven times." The other child does this, jumping the envelope to any adjacent card (like playing checkers), making free choices to go up, down, left or right. When the moves are completed, the reader continues: "remove the Model card". That card is removed. This continues through all the steps, each time the child moving the envelope as she chooses, and each time, one of the cards is removed from the grid.
The children soon realize that the envelope is never on a card that the pre-printed instructions say to remove! (That's how Destiny works, after all...) In the end, there is the envelope on one card, and all the others have been removed. The prediction inside the envelope matches the same "career" shown on the final card. And the nature of the final card's career -- that of "Volunteer" is funny, since in the beginning, you asked for someone to "volunteer" to help you.
This is not a kidshow quickie -- it takes about 6-7 minutes to perform, or longer if you want to joke and/or educate about the various career options. It is for close-up, based on the prop size. But after learning the routine, you could easily make enlarged versions of the cards, mount them on a display board with that moveable photo-mount spray glue , and have the child place and move their finger around on the cards to choose the final career. It would make this a great stand-up kidshow item.
The props provided are not laminated -- you may wish to laminate them to ensure they last forever.
Brand new and unused, with instructions.
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