Instant Fun: Quick & Easy Activities for Kids

What does it take to amaze a kid? How about using ordinary objects to do what seems impossible? Check out the challenges presented here to learn their secrets.

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Balance a Fork and Spoon in Midair

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Balance a Fork and Spoon in Midair

Can you figure out this challenge?

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Use a Toothpick to Find the Center of Gravity

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Use a Toothpick to Find the Center of Gravity

The secret: Exploit the laws of physics. Wedge the bowl of a spoon between the tines of a similar-size fork as shown. Place one end of a toothpick through the middle of the tines. Now, set the toothpick on the rim of a sturdy glass and slowly adjust its location until the whole setup is balanced. You've just found the structure's center of gravity, or balancing point. The heavy handles of the spoon and fork shift the balancing point to its surprising location.

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Lift a Cup Without Using Your Hands

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Lift a Cup Without Using Your Hands

Can you figure out this challenge?

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Blow Up a Balloon Inside the Cup

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Blow Up a Balloon Inside the Cup

The secret: Enlist the power of air pressure. Place a deflated balloon in the cup, then blow the balloon up until it's pressing against the sides. The difference in air pressure provides enough grip to hold the cup when you lift it.

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Make a Penny Disappear

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Make a Penny Disappear

Can you figure out this challenge?

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Cover the Penny with a Mason Jar Filled With Water

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Cover the Penny with a Mason Jar Filled With Water

The secret: Hide it with bent light. Fill a jar with water, put the lid on it, then place the jar on top of the penny. The water causes a phenomenon known as refraction. The image of the penny traveling to our eyes is refracted, or bent, by both the water and the jar, making it invisible from the outside.

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Without Touching a Bottle, Lift It With a Pencil

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Without Touching a Bottle, Lift It With a Pencil

Can you figure out this challenge?

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Pack the Bottle With Uncooked Rice

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Pack the Bottle With Uncooked Rice

The secret: Use uncooked rice to create friction. With a funnel, fill the bottle with rice, tap it on the table a few times to pack the grains, and add rice until it's almost to the rim. To lift the bottle, quickly jam a pencil straight down into the rice. When it's done right (and you may have to try a few times), the pencil forces the grains against the sides of the bottle, providing enough resistance to hold the pencil in place when you lift it.

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Balance a Stack of Books on the Edge of a Sheet of Paper

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Balance a Stack of Books on the Edge of a Sheet of Paper

Can you figure out this challenge?

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Roll the Paper Into a Tube

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Roll the Paper Into a Tube

The secret: Create a naturally sturdy structure by rolling the paper into a tube or cylinder. This geometric shape has remarkable supporting power (think of a sunflower stem or tin-can stilts).

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Push a $5 Bill Through a Lemon

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Push a $5 Bill Through a Lemon

Can you figure out this challenge?

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Fold the Bill So It Has a Point

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Fold the Bill So It Has a Point

The secret: Turn the bill into a drill. Fold the bill so it has a sharp point, roll it tightly so that point remains sharp, and choose a lemon with a thin skin, if possible. Insert the point into the lemon, then twist and push to work the bill into the fruit. With a bit of luck, it will come out the other side. If not, make some lemonade and try again with another lemon!