May’s New Thing

Planting vegetables and learning a magic trick

Note:  This month I want to try to master two things I have previously not been successful with and see what I could do to master each of them.
The Garden

When the plants in a garden grow, it feels magical.  I have always wanted to have a garden. I see pictures and hear about people eating out of their garden all summer long.  I am driven to find a way for my family to have that experience. This year I decided to take action with my goal and actually put, “Having a successful garden” on my bucket list!  I think it is one of the coolest things for kids to take part in the experience of growing something that they can eat. I can still remember walking into my grandparents garden and eating cherry tomatoes.  There is something about growing things that makes summer feel complete. I like the idea of watching something slowly appear before my eyes. Gardening sounds fairly doable, but I have to admit; I have failed a few times in really getting it going.  Last year I was about 50% successful with planting a few vegetables. I started my plants too late, and many of the seeds that I planted never really amounted to anything. I did end up being able to eat a little bit of basil and a couple tomatoes or so very late in the season,  but I did not feel as though I had really been successful. Just as I would do with teaching, parenting or running, I had to assess what was going well, and make a few changes. The key this year would be finding a way that create a garden that would work with my lifestyle.

All of a sudden an idea came to me.  I told my husband that the perfect Mother’s day gift would be to not only buy the plants for the garden, but to plant them.   Having the garden ready would save me a trip to the store and save me a considerable amount of time and energy during one of the busiest months of the school year! Sure enough Mother’s day came- and my garden was planted!  When my family revealed the garden it felt magical. I realized that being honest about the help I needed and directly asking for it made a big difference.

Garden Update:  Bucket list item fulfilled.  The garden is going really well and it is only the beginning of July!  The kids enjoy watering it, and have picked and eaten several tomatoes and bits of basil from it.  We are starting to see the peppers and we can’t wait to try them.

Creating a garden that would prosper during the summer was not my first idea for something new during the month of May.  Originally I thought about learning a magic trick. As the month progressed, I realized that I had the possibility of having both experiences and was really excited about that.  

Asking  for help was indeed something I could do again in regards to learning a magic trick.  I had read about a few educators who were able to use magic in the classroom to get the attention of students.  And, I remember watching magician, David Copperfield on TV when I was younger. I was captivated by his ability to wow a crowd with his talent. Learning how to perform in a way that would create an illusion seemed incredibly difficult.  As a kid I had tried a few card tricks out, but never really found something I did well. I realized even if I failed this time, it would be interesting to explore trying to learn a new trick. Since baseball and soccer games as well as end of the year activities made me feel as though I was maxed out on effort to learn anything new; I decided to enlist the help of my students.  As part of a mini research assignment in computer class, I had my students explore websites that would show directions on how to do basic magic tricks. I had them fill out a Google form with the sites so I could quickly go through all of them and choose the trick I would master.

As I looked through their suggestions, some of the directions felt quite complicated.  I guess this is how my students might feel when I am teaching something new. I will admit there were a few times that I became rather frustrated and felt like giving up.  I noticed that I was really searching for something with only a few materials and very brief directions, so that I could be successful with at least one trick! I struggled as I attempted a few tricks.  However, just as I felt like quitting, I struck gold with the Phantom Coin trick. I was so excited to be successful! When I was able to see the third coin appear between the other two I had in my hands I truly felt like the next David Copperfield!

Phantom Coin

What You Need:

  • Two large coins


  1. Hold two large coins together between your index
  2. fingers.
  3. Rub the coins up and down quickly, and watch what happens.

It looks like a third coin magically appears between the other two!


After having mastered the coin trick, I wanted to try one more.  I believed I had it in me to master another challenge and then would be able to wow not only my own kids, but my students next fall.  

I found another trick with a penny and a balloon; but after two attempts could not figure out how to “magically get the penny in the balloon”.   After some more digging, I stumbled upon Magic Murry’s videos. He had one that showed how to do three tricks to impress your friends at school. The tricks included an apple, crayons and a ruler.  After watching the three tricks, I realized that I could definitely do two of them. I was able to do the tricks with the apple and the box of crayons at a very basic level. I am going to work on my skill level to hopefully have a mastered trick to show my students this fall.  

This month’s new things included a lot of trial and error.  I realized that I failed a number of times with starting a garden and learning a magic trick.  I love the quote that says, “FAIL: First attempt At Learning”. This month I discovered a lot about myself.  I realized how determined I am when I set my mind towards doing something. I am proud of the fact that I was able to persevere even when things got tough.   This time, I decided I need to do something different. I realized that asking for help was a great strategy. I also needed to be honest about where I was really at.  I realized that I needed to simplify both goals. While taking on my challenge this month, it also became clear to me how much I like working with someone who is an expert in the field that I am trying to challenge myself with.  If I were to do this again, I would have sought out a magician and learned from him or her. Even Though gardening is going well, I plan to continue taking advice so that next year can be even better. I like how Henry Ford says that, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently”.  Failure is truly a gift, and it is in a way; magical.

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