The Magic Envelope

This is my first Flannel Friday post.  I wanted to keep the “illusion alive” and made people send me their email address for the how-to.  That got old, so I had it hidden away for about a year and am bringing it back with the explanation.  Hope you enjoy! ~~Sharon 3.15.2013

Several years ago, I observed one of my colleagues put several pictures into an envelope, say some magic words, and prest- o change-o before I could say “shazam” out of the envelope came just one picture. It has intimidated me ever since.

Here is the concept: Taking the parts of a thing to make a whole — using descriptive words to describe a larger concept.

Preparation: name characteristics of a thing (in this instance: School): books, students, teachers, desks, chalk, computers. Now using clip art: find pictures that represent those things. Also, get a picture of the Thing (school in this case).

For story time:I tell kids that I have my magic envelope and we’re going to make a School. I ask them to give me words that describe school. Most times I have those pictures, and sometimes I don’t. That’s okay, I’ll ask for more words or help them come up with the ones I have in mind. Each time someone names a thing, I take that picture, and place it inside the envelope.

When all the pictures are in the envelope, I ask for a magic word. Every time I’ve done the Magic Envelope someone in the audience will come up with the perfect magic word.(We did “build a cake” this week and someone suggested “pat-a-cake” (genius).) I think for school a good magic word might be the alphabet song, or Mary Had a Little Lamb, or just abracadabra…

Together we say the magic word and viola, magic happens. Open up the envelope and presto-change-o, the describing pictures changed to just one: a picture of a school.

We have many different Magic Envelopes: Hanukkah and other holidays, Seasons, school, cake, princes… the list can go on and on.

Here are some pictures to help you understand what I am talking about:

  1. the things that make up a Princess and as quick as you can say, Bibbity, bobbity, Boo:
  2. the Princess escapes her envelope, whole!
  3. The things that make a cake.
  4. Presto-change-o, the cake is made


How do I do it? Well, I want to try and keep the illusion of the Magic Envelope a trade secret. I didn’t create this idea, but respect it and the people who come to our programs enough to keep the illusion alive. So, between friends:  Take two identical envelopes and secure them back to back.  One has the complete picture tucked away and when you say the magic words, simply flip the flap open and viola. It’s takes practice, and it is worth it.

A confession: I have been terrified of the magic envelope for 13 years. What if the magic doesn’t happen? Well, I’m here to say, it is worth it and fun. Try it and let me know how it went!