Magic reveal drawings – simply with water!

HomeMagic reveal drawings – simply with water!

Magic reveal drawings – simply with water!

HomeMagic reveal drawings – simply with water!

Summary: a “magic” drawing trick which will appeal to reluctant and keen artists alike, and which can be adapted for a range of creative and imaginative purposes.

Set-up: 5 mins

Play: 20 mins – an hour

Complexity: Easy, with added complexity possible for keen artists


  • Marker pens
  • Kitchen towel
  • Scissors
  • A tray of water (it’s also handy to have a towel at the ready!)

What to do

Cut some kitchen towel sheets in half, and fold these halves into half. Prepare a first drawing ready to show your child. The examples here are of a sun and a tree. Draw the outline of a sun or a tree without any detail on the front of your folded kitchen towel. Open it up and on the second half of the kitchen towel draw the detail (such as the sun’s rays, and a face, or apples and leaves for the tree) so that when you fold your kitchen towel again the second drawing is directly underneath the first.

Now you are ready to show your child the magic trick! Fill a suitable container with a layer of water. Show your child the drawing on the front of the paper towel. You might say “do you think I can turn this circle into the sun?” or “do you think I can grow leaves and apples on this tree?”. Then lay the kitchen towel piece in the water. In a few seconds the kitchen towel will saturate, revealing the second drawing underneath. Abradadabra! Can your child tell you how they think it works? (The kitchen towel soaks up the water, and when it’s saturated, becomes transparent.)

Offer your child pieces of kitchen towel and let them try this out. What kinds of things might they draw? Which parts do they want to “hide” in in the inside drawing? Affirm their ideas. How many different designs can they create?


Experiment! What happens if you fold your kitchen towel into three? Can your child make a picture with three layers of drawing?

Could your child draw a scene on a whole piece of kitchen towel, then populate it with people and animals on a second?

Try magic writing: for example, a question on the top piece of kitchen towel and the answer on the second. You might develop a quiz or a set of jokes with this idea.

Another similar activity involves drawing your two halves of a picture on two separate pieces of card or a cereal box packet (for example, a circle on one and the eyes, nose and mouth on the other) and sticking them back to back with a straw or pencil in between them. When you spin the pencil or straw by holding it between your palms and rolling it back and forth, you will be able to see both parts of the picture at once.

What learning does this activity promote?

Curiosity, wonder, fine motor skills, symbolism, literacy, scientific concepts (saturation, transparency), explanations

By Dr Vicki Hargraves


Dr Vicki Hargraves

Vicki runs our early childhood webinar series and also is responsible for the creation of many of our early childhood research reviews. Vicki is a teacher, mother, writer, and researcher living in Marlborough. She recently completed her PhD using philosophy to explore creative approaches to understanding early childhood education. She is inspired by the wealth of educational research that is available and is passionate about making this available and useful for teachers.

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