Both kids and adults appreciate anything that gives them an edge in mathematics. Easy to learn math magic tricks are like brain teasers—they bring math and real-life together in a helpful way for even the most math-challenged. We classify math as a science and the basis for everything. There are new and old math tricks; some you may have seen, and others may be new and amazing.
The Coolest Magic Tricks to Make Math Fun
Whether you’re looking to amaze your friends and family, convince them you’re a genius, or you’re just looking for a fun way to improve your math skills – we’ve got the right trick for you. We’ll begin with a classic math magic trick from the 1990s, developed by mathematician Kruskal, using the “Kruskal Count.”
- Choose a number — any number — on the clock.
- With your finger pointing at the number 12, spell out the number you chose, taking one “step” clockwise on the clock face for each letter you spell.
- For example, if you pick the number 7, spelling out the word “seven” will land you on the number 5.
- Now, spell your new number, moving clockwise.
- Do this one more time, spelling your new number, moving clockwise on the clock.
- After this third time spelling the number you landed on, you will not be on the number 2, number 4, number 8, or number 12.
- Now, spell out (for the last time) the last number you landed on, skipping the empty spaces where you “removed” the numbers 2, 4, 8, and 12.
- The last number you’ve landed on is number 6.
How does this math magic trick work? No matter what number, there are only four possibilities for the number of letters that each number on the clock contains. Each spelled number has either 3, 4, 5, or 6 letters in it.
So, the first time you’re spelling whatever number on the clock you chose will land you on the number 3, 4, 5, or 6. For your second spelling of the second number, you will move forward and end up on either the number 8 or number 9. No one ends up on numbers 2, 7, 10, 11, or 12. It’s an interactive chain that at the third spelling of whatever number you landed on becomes the same link in that chain. After the third go-around, everyone ends up at number 6.
David Copperfield did this same math magic trick on television.
Think of a Number, Any Number
This smart trick will not only amaze friends but can surprise even a math teacher!
- Think of any number.
- Double that number.
- Add 10 to that number.
- Divide this number in half.
- Subtract the number you originally chose.
- Your answer is 5.
Guess How Much Money Is in Someone’s Pocket
Ask a friend to count the value of all the coins in their pocket without telling you the answer. Have the friend write this amount on a piece of paper. Then ask your friend to:
- Double the amount.
- Add the first odd prime number to this total.
- Multiply by 1/4 of 20 (multiply by 5).
- Subtract the lowest common multiple of 2 and 3.
- Ask your friend what answer they now have.
- Take off the last digit, and you can tell your friend the value of the coins in their pocket. Magic!
I Know Your Age and Your Shoe Size
Give a friend a piece of paper, then these directions to follow. Tell them to hide their calculations from you.
- Have your friend write their age on the piece of paper.
- Tell them to multiply it by the number 20.
- Add today’s date. If it is the third of the month, add a 3, etc.
- Multiply that new number by 20% of 25 (by the number 5).
- Tell them to add their shoe size (if it is a half size, for example, 7 1/2, round to a whole number).
- Lastly, subtract 5 times today’s date (if the date is the third of the month, subtract 5 times 3, or 15).
- Have them show you their final answer.
- Tell them their age (the hundreds are the age) and their shoe size (the remaining numbers are their shoe size).
For example, if their last answer is “1105” their age is the hundreds (they are 11 years old), and the remaining numbers, “05” is their shoe size. Math magic!
Math magic tricks are excellent for practicing your math times tables. This is helpful for children having trouble with multiplication.
Secret Number Trick
This is a great math magic trick for children.
- Have the child choose a number between 1 and 9.
- Ask the child to multiply that secret number by 2.
- Now have them multiply by 5.
- Ask them what their answer is.
- Drop the zero from their answer and tell them what their “secret” number was!
Did you know that in the mathematical world, it doesn’t matter how big a number is? There are a lot of questions kids and adults alike have about math, even though most of us know that all prime numbers are larger than the number 1. But did you know the largest prime number is 17 million digits long?
The Magic of Twos, Threes, and Fives
- Think of a number, any number. Add 4, then multiply that answer by 4. Subtract 8, then divide by 4. When you subtract your original chosen number, your answer is always 2.
- Think of another, different number. Double that number, then add 9. Subtract by 3, divide by 2, then subtract your original chosen number. Your answer is always 3.
- Now, think of any three-digit number and add 7 to that number. Multiply by 2, then subtract 4, and divide that answer by 2. Subtract your answer from your original chosen number. The answer will always be 5.
The 99 Trick
This trick, no matter what two numbers your player chooses, ends with the answer being 99.
- Have a player write any two numbers from 1 to 9, then reverse the number. For example, if they write 32, the reversed number will be 23.
- You’ll have two two-digit numbers on your paper. Subtract.
- Reverse the digits on your answer and add them to the answer in the previous step.
- Your answer is 99.
This one is not really a trick but more of a helpful hint. Your teacher wants to know if a number is a multiple of 3. This simple trick lets you figure it out quickly by adding the digits together.
For example, if your number is 14,582, it has numbers 1, 4, 5, 8, and 2 in it. Add these digits together: 1 + 4 + 5 + 8 + 2 equals 20. This number is not a multiple of 3 because it is not an answer of 3 times any other number. However, the number 12,894 is a multiple of 3 because 1 + 2 + 8 + 9 + 4 = 24 and 3X8 = 24. You can do this with any number, no matter how long.
Magic Numbers That Predict Your Age and Date-Of-Birth Trick
Using simple “magical numbers” can predict anyone’s age and date-of-birth. Try this with anyone:
- Have them write the year of their birth.
- Now double that number (if you were born in 1950, that number doubled would be 3,900).
- Add the number 5 (now you have 3,905).
- Multiply the answer by 50 (3905 times 50 equals 195,250).
- Add your age (if you were born in 1950, your age is “69” so you would add 69 + 195,250, which would equal 195,319).
- Add 365 (195,319 + 365 = 195,684).
- Subtract 615 (195,684 – 615 = 195,069).
- The first four digits are the year you were born, and the last two digits are your age!
The numbers are magical. Numerical magic tricks can foster a sense of curiosity, excitement, and having fun with math. Math magic tricks can even create new wonder in students because they are not asking themselves, “What is the answer?” but are thinking about “What is the trick?” You can find number magic in a deck of cards, a calendar, and everyday objects.
Math magic tricks are a superb way to reinforce lower grade-level math facts and entertain people who may think they hate math. Whichever type of person you or your friends may be, math magic tricks can be educational and entertaining.