If you’re looking for a game that’s fun and gets the kids to use their brains why not try out this Secret Codes activity? All you need is some paper and pens/pencils. It is quite a tricky activity so only suitable for older children really (plus you need to be able to read and write of course!).
Here’s how to play:
Step 1 – creating your secret code
First, you need to get some A4 size paper, cut it into two pieces down the middle and create a grid of 26 squares on each piece (for the 26 letters of the alphabet)
The next step is to write out the alphabet in the usual way on one sheet. Now comes the exciting part where you get to create your code! Take the second sheet and start writing out the alphabet, but DON’T start in the first box. Depending on what code you want, start 1,2,3 or any number of boxes along (I’ve started my code 2 boxes along). Then continue to write out the alphabet to the end of the grid. When you get to the end, go to the first box (this should be blank) and start writing the remaining letters of the alphabet from here.
(Note – it’s a good idea to use different coloured pens for each sheet as it helps you remember which sheet is which)
So in my case I started writing the alphabet in the 3rd box on the second sheet of paper (my code sheet), which meant I finished on the letter ‘X’. I then went back to the first box and wrote ‘Y’ in there then ‘Z’ in the second box. I now have two sheets containing the whole 26 letters of the alphabet!
Step 2 – using your secret code
Now comes the time to use your code. You’ll need another piece of paper to write out your secret message, then all you’ll need to do is write out your message using the code letter rather than the real letter. Here’s an example:
If I want to write out the word “HELLO” using my code, I would lie the code sheet (sheet 2) on top of the real alphabet sheet (sheet 1). Then I’d look for the letter “H” on sheet 1 (real alphabet) and see that it corresponds to the letter “F” on my code sheet (sheet 2). For the letter “E” I would see that it corresponds to the letter “C” in code, “L” is “J” and “O” is “M” so my code for “HELLO” is “FCJJM”. To decode your message, the person you send it to needs copies of your code sheet so that they can decipher the message! To do that you lie the code sheet on the alphabet sheet in the same way and look for letter “F” on the code sheet. I would then see that this corresponds to the letter “H” on the alphabet sheet and so on.
This is quite a tricky activity so the kids will need to concentrate! If you want to make it a little easier, you can cut and stick the code and alphabet sheets so you get two long strips of paper. This is a bit easier than moving the code sheet to the top and bottom of the alphabet sheet when coding/deciphering letters.
Finally, I’ve added another word to my secret message – can you work it out?