Take a look at the magic coloring book. A wonderful simple magic trick that could be performed for 3 year olds or at a corporate function, it's magic simplicity.
If you don't know this trick, you show a coloring book with blank pages. Say some magic words, it now has outlines to color. Say some more magic words, you show all the images colored in. Say a few more magic words, the coloring is wiped away. Of course you can do that in any order you choose.
Think of any trick you do, juggling? magic? pretending to walk a tight rope? Every thing you do onstage is about the journey. performing with children, it's a very long journey.
Take a look at your coloring book. You can do this trick in 30 seconds. But that's not very interesting or magical for that matter.
Everything you do has a question. The better performer you become the more questions you know to ask.
Is your coloring book a magic coloring book? Or, is this your 4 year old son's book you stole for the show? Each question gives the coloring book some depth. Do you like coloring? Do you think coloring is for babies?
We haven't even gotten to the routine but you have 2 minutes of a routine. "I have to keep it a secret but I like coloring. I love it so much, look I took this from my clown son. His name is dwindle, he's only half the clown I am. Although, I think he's smarter...Dwindle knows what happens when combine blue paint with yellow paint. I have no idea, do you know?" (shouting green) Jelly bean? really? Lima bean...yuck." etc etc etc.
If you start asking the questions, you can easily create a routine. The coloring book doesn't have to be "look at my book, boo hoo, I need to color it. Look it's full of colors" So much more to do, so much more potential.
The coloring books generally have pictures from the circus. What is the name of magician in the book? Name it after the birthday child. "I'm glad I brought this book, this has a picture of Sylvia in it!" Show the picture of the magician or lion tamer. Make a big deal out of it.
The trick is not to get to the end but to get the children laughing. The end is minor. Or it can be a really big deal. Each way is valid and right. The question about the end will let you know the momentum you need.
If the end is minor. "and all the colors are gone" The big deal might be getting them all colored, then you notice the pages blank and scratch your head and gently put the book away.
Or make the end a big deal. "watch watch! You're not going to believe this. I'm going to make the colors disappear!. Ready ONE TWO THREE" "I'm the greatest macian on the planet!" Thank you thank you!
The journey is fun for the children. You can even tell them the end of the trick, it doesn't matter, it's the fun of you creating in front of them that's the magic.
The middle of the routine is just the same. There are suddenly outlines. Is there a ghost in the room that drew these things? Were they drawn by one of the kids? Run around checking the kids for crayons, they will love this.
Most important. Each time you do a routine, discover it once again. That means staying so in the moment with your audience, you are as surprised as them. And I'm not talking fake surprise, just staying in the moment.
Staying in the moment is the reason actors are so interesting to watch. The actor that's playing Hamlet stays in the moment, killing his uncle Claudius is all consuming, the actor is as surprised as anyone when he kills Claudius.
Maybe I should lighten up. Gilligan ruining the chance of escape is a surprise to Bob Denver.
Ask a question, see where it takes you. Maybe you want to do the coloring book about shapes instead of colors. It's a rectangle, then have the children find rectangles in the pictures, circles, triangles etc. Maybe the coloring book is about books in general but you are just learning to read. Or you are so smart you've read every book on the planet, this is the only book you have never read and it keeps changing on you. You'll never get to read the last book on the planet, then everything is blank.