Hi Tim (yes, I actually visited your blogspot)
First off remember as someone else has said around here before, you get what you pay for and this is FREE advice... so take it with a grain of salt.
So I've been reading all kinds of good advice on this forum about kids shows. I've been asked to do a kids show for 15-20 4-5 year olds. This would be my first paid kids show. I've turned this lady down two or three times and offered her other names of local magicians but she still is asking (I think the other two magicians might be a little too expensive for her budget.) Don't undersell yourself! If you are good enough to do the show make sure you charge appropriately so as not to get a bad reputation from the other local magicians. You may want to network with them!
Also keep in mind that 15-20 kids is a lot, especially when they are 4-5 year olds, and you want to go in with a definitive plan on how to corral them and keep their attention.
So I am thinking of taking the job to gain some experience. I'm not a complete stranger to kids in this age group. I taught Sunday school for 3 years to kids ages 3-6 and I've been a cub scout leader for boys aged 7-11 and I've done a lot of magic for cub scouts so I know what a challenge that group can be.
Excellent. Experience working with children is a definite plus. You definitely have to know how to interact with them. Just be careful to remember that you are there to entertain and have fun with them and let the parents do the disciplinary work-- hopefully they'll be paying attention. If not, use diversionary tactics instead of disciplinary ones. You'll solve the problem and the kids will still be having fun.
The Axtell board is cool. We have one. I think its gathering dust somewhere in the box. It is not as deceptive as I personally would like, but I'm critical. I think it would be great for a larger venue such as a school show, etc. but a parlour show I think is too "closeup" for it. Now I am sure that you would get a lot of opposite feedback on that and that many people do use it for birthday shows. I just don't want my daughter to ever be called out on how the mechanics of something work. It is just my experience that people can get really close up at a birthday party show in someone's living room.
I'd have to see what Kid Kards are, but I have Cardtoon. Its not anything I would use for this age group. Its my opinion cards are not good for this age group. There is a whole other topic going on about this right now you may want to check out.
Again, just my opinion, but I think the thimbles are too small for that many kids. Kids do good with BIG visual magic, especially with this age group.
I have a short, colorful thimble routine that is already set to music so I'm thinking that might be a good opener.
So what I really need are a few more inexpensive routine ideas. Here's what I'm thinking
Silks (blendo, Slydini, etc.)
Cut and Restored Rope (any specific routines that works for young children?)
You hit it right on the head though with working with silks & Rocky Racoon!
I personally love storytelling magic and my daughter does a lot of it so don't be afraid to use it! There was a recent article in Linking Rings about storytelling magic. I haven't had the opportunity to actually sit down and read the article yet as I was thumbing through the issue, but you may want to check it out if you get the magazine (available to IBM members).
You can use any prop for storytelling magic since you are writing your own custom storyline. My daughter does rope magic to a custom story we wrote and it gets great feedback from the audience, plus it sends out a positive message to the kids as well. If you like rope work check out some of Daryl's DVDs. He has some great rope work and he is entertaining to learn from. *whispers* He also has some of the best rope I've found.
Again, with the sponge rabbits--- I'm not sure. 15-20 kids may be too big of group to really pull that off with. Maybe someone else can give you a better opinion on that. My daughter has the sponge rabbits but does not do them in her act.
I hope this helps. If you have any questions just ask and I'll do my best to help. Please remember that we are also amateur magicians (with some experience) but we believe in helping one another.