Magic Trick Animation

In this activity, students will be magicians and use sticky notes, their hands, and a prop to create the illusion of objects appearing, disappearing, and switching.

Magic Trick Animation

Magic Trick Animation

Contributed by Andy Gaukel


In this activity, students will be magicians and use sticky notes, their hands, and a prop to create the illusion of objects appearing, disappearing, and switching.


  • Begin by placing your camera securely on a stand so it has an overhead view of your workspace.
  • Place a blank sheet of colored paper on your workspace.
  • Place tape on the corners to secure it.
  • Choose two sticky notes of different colors that contrast with each other as well as the background. The sticky notes will need to be the same size for the illusion to work.
  • Ask the students: “How can we make the first sticky note appear to magically change into the other one? What are some things magicians usually do before their trick to let us know they’re about to do magic?”
  • Ask students to choose a prop from the classroom (a pencil works well) to be your magic wand if you don’t already have one. It should be large enough to be easily visible but small enough to fit in the frame.
  • Place the first sticky note in the center of your frame.
  • Practice the movement and trick before you begin animating.
  • Ask a student volunteer to take 10 photos of the first sticky note, keeping it in the exact same place. 
  • Introduce the hand and wand into the frame, taking photos and checking for smooth, gradual motion. 
  • For the frame in which the wand taps the sticky note, carefully lift up the first sticky note and replace it with the second one in the exact same spot. 
  • Have students try to make their own animation in small groups.
  • TIPS:
    • Enhance this activity by asking the students to add fun ideas to their sequences. For example, in lieu of a wand, students can snap their fingers or clap to appear to cause the switch. 
    • Students can make the sticky notes appear, disappear, or switch as in the example. After building confidence with these, students can try found objects.
    • Have fun with the surface of your workspace by not covering it with paper and allowing the texture of the table or desk to come through in your film.

Transition into Activity

Before you begin this activity, show the class an example film you have pre-made or show them some footage of related magicians’ sets.

Transition out of Activity

Before moving on to the next activity, each group can share what they created with the whole class.

Classroom Arrangement

Have students animate at their desks in small groups, alone, or in pairs. If available, tables in a library or cafeteria are ideal workspaces for creating animations. Students will have plenty of room to set up cameras and workspaces.

Supports/Adaptive Materials/Tools

  • If your stop-motion program has the onion skin feature, use this to ensure your sticky notes stay in the same place.
    Onion Skin. A dark skinned person in a hijab waves a hand leaving the impression of five hands moving.
  • Have clear roles for each small group—camera operator, prop master, director. You can pre-make lanyards with roles that students can wear and switch when it’s their turn. 
  • A timer/visual timer can be used to remind students to rotate roles (as applicable), save their animation, and play back their animation for continuity and quality of motion.
  • Invite a Classroom Professional to join a small group.
  • If sticky notes or paper are difficult to manipulate, choose other identical objects in two colors that are easier to move and won’t roll (e.g., blocks, fabric weights, paper plates, etc.).

Possible Roles for Classroom Professionals

  • Check in with students as they create their work by giving positive feedback.
  • If students are having a difficult time trying to take photos of their hands, offer to be the photographer.
  • Create students’ small groups.
  • Join a small group.

Adjustments for Remote Instruction
Laptop Icon

Share your screen with the animation app or program open. Students can help direct you. Ask questions such as, “How would I make the first object appear to magically switch into the second?,” and then try out each suggestion.

Art forms


15 mins