Secret Codes, Secret Messages

Make secret codes with your kids.   GrandmaIdeas.comIf granddaughters love tea parties, what do grandsons love?

Why, secret codes. That’s what!

Writing secret messages to your grandson could be great fun. And a great challenge — especially to decipher the message.

Before you write your message, you need to determine how you are going to code it. There are several ways for doing this.

Backwards Code. One way to write a secret message is to spell the words backwards. For example, if you wanted to write ‘you are smart’ your message would be ‘uoy era trams.’

Number Code. Write the alphabet out. Select one letter other than A to be your first letter in your code. Then continue numbering the rest of the alphabet. Here’s an example where M is the first letter:

m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
a b c d e f g h i j k l
15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Now, write out a message. Locate the letter in the alphabet and write the corresponding number underneath it. This is what the code would look like for the message ‘come over for supper.”

17 3 1 19 3 10 19 6 20 3 6 7 9 4 4 19 6

If you fear that your code has been broken by unscrupulous characters (your grandson’s siblings), merely change the letter that is your number one letter and once again you can easily use that coding method. I have make this Secret Code Templates PDF file hat you can print up. It has 3 templates that you can use. This is a fun secret message coder/decoder web site. Just type your message in the box provided on the site and click on the scramble button. Then, copy the message from the box into your e-mail or word processor. Your grandson would then copy the secret message from your e-mail, paste it into the box on the web site, then click the unscramble button. Your secret message to your grandson will then be decoded for him.

Secret Code Wheel. This is similar to the number code. Print out the secret code wheels provided here for you. Cut out the two wheels. Place the smaller wheel on top of the larger wheel. Push a brad fastener in the middle to hold the two wheels together. Determine which letter you want to be the ‘A’ letter in your code. Turn the small inner wheel until the A on the smaller circle is beneath the desired letter on the bigger circle. In this example, the letter ‘G’ is now an ‘A.’ (The code is written out straight here instead of being in a circle like on your coded wheel.)

normal alphabet a b c d e f g h i j k l m
coded alphabet u v w x y z a b c d e f g
normal alphabet n o p q r s t u v w x y z
coded alphabet h i j k l m n o p q r s t

Carefully hold the wheels in place and then write out your message. For example, if you wanted to write the message “you are smart,” this is what your code would look like with G as your A:

s i o u l y m g u l n

If your grandson lives far away, e-mail him and explain which type of secret code you will be using. Include a copy of the secret code wheel, too, if you would like. Then, type your next message in coded form. Follow up to make sure he was able to decode it. Then, have him write back to you with a coded message.

A fun variation is to make paper that looks like an ancient scroll with a secret message. For this activity you will need newspaper, white 8.5 x 11 inch paper, inexpensive washable watercolor paint, an inexpensive watercolor painting brush (both from your local dollar store). You can make the paper together as a fun activity or you can make some and then send a few sheets to your grandson for his secret messages.

Cover your work space with newspapers. Tightly crumple up a piece of white paper that is 8.5 inches by 11 inches. Then, press it out flat on the newspaper. Lightly paint brown watercolor paint over the crumpled sheet of paper. Don’t get it too dark or it will be difficult to read your secret message. Set the paper aside to dry.

When it is dry, write out your secret message. Roll up the paper and tie a string around it. Give your scroll to your grandson for him to decipher.

If your grandson lives far away from you, write him a letter in a secret code and have him decipher it. You can have him send you back a letter in secret code.

It would also be fun to send colored paper and colored pens for your grandson to use. Color is more exciting than white paper and a blue ink pen . . .

Now, use the number code above and see if you can figure out the following message.

21 3 3 18 26 9 17 2

8 thoughts on “Secret Codes, Secret Messages

  • Jann Olson

    I loved secret codes as a child and they are a super fun activity with kids! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  • Joybee

    Fun! I want to be one of your grandkids. I bet my nephews will get a kick out of something like this when they get older (only 3 now). Thanks for sharing your great idea at Great Idea Thursdays.

  • April J Harris

    Love this fun and educational idea! I have fond memories of playing with secret codes when I was a kid – this is a great thing to do with kids and grandkids. Sharing! Thank you for being a part of the Hearth and Soul hop.

  • Nina Lewis Post author

    Hi Zina,

    When I wrote the page, I assumed that my readers would just use what I had in the post. But, since you asked for a template, I’ve created a PDF file that has 3 different templates. I’ll e-mail it to you.

    All the best,

  • Zina

    I would like to use the secret codes for my cub scouts. If possible could you send me the template?
    Thanks a bunch

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