To play What’s Missing, you will need several flashcards (FCs) and a square scarf, handkerchief or other piece of NON transparent material. Here’s how to play:
1. Set down one FC, point and say what it is – have the kids repeat the FC back.
2. Set down a second FC and say what it is, have the kids repeat the FC back.
3. Set down a third FC and say what it is, have the kids repeat the FC back
4. Cover all your FCs with the scarf. Wave your hands over the top like a magician and say ‘Hocus Pocus.’ Slip your hand under the scarf and pull out a card, but don’t let your audience see what it is.
5. Point to the empty spot and say what’s missing.
Whoever guesses the correct card wins!
Simple right? Yes, the kids know it’s not magic, some will even call you out. But, who cares? They have just learned 3 new words. After you’ve done it a few times, you can get the kids to be the magician, they really like to play the role. Congratulations, you’ve just gotten your kids to talk – and that is the real magic!
For younger kids, we usually keep the number of cards to just a few (3 – 5 cards). For older kids keep adding more cards:
1. Put the missing FC back and add another FC, say what it is and have the kids repeat.
2. Add another FC, say what it is and have the kids repeat.
3. Add another FC, say what it is, have the kids repeat. Point and repeat each FCname -either the kids will chant with you or they will repeat after you.
4. Repeat Step 4 from above. Keep adding FCs in the same way and see how many cards you can get up to. It gets a bit difficult later on because cards start flying away when you pull off the scarf, but the kids will usually remember the order of the cards and want them put back exactly the same.
Playing the game like this is also a good way to make yourself feel old, you will be amazed at how much better the kids’ memories are compared to yours! I try and figure out which card I pull away, but usually I have to check.
Sometimes we Muggles can pull off a magic trick, even if we didn’t get to go to Hogwarts!