I thought secret messages would be a fun way to pretend to be spies. I checked out several juvenile books on secret messages. (This is a good one.) I went through all the books taking a look over the codes in the books. I selected 3 that looked pretty straightforward. I didn’t want to photocopy pages out of the books so I made my handout of the codes. On the handout, I wrote out a simpler explanation with a few examples. I threw in some practice translations for them to try out.
For the fourth message, I went another way and we did a different take on invisible ink. All you need is white paper, white crayons, and watercolors with water. You write out your message in crayon. Paint with the watercolor to bring out the message. The paper will turn color but the wax from the crayon will leave your message intact.
Set up for the program was pretty easy. I had a table for each type of secret message with the supplies needed (handout, pencils, paper, watercolors). As kids came in, I let them pick their seat since they would get to try everything before they left. I let them work at a table for 10-15 minutes before I encouraged them to move to a different table. I didn’t push it too much because some people were a bit slower with picking up the messages.
The handouts were pretty helpful for the kids but they did need a bit more explanation from me. Once they caught on, they took off running with it. They would write out messages. They used the extra paper on the table to write a message for their friend to translate.
Verdict: Pretty successful. The kids had fun and it was an easy program to put together. The hardest part of the program was making the handout but even that wasn’t too hard. If I ever need to throw together a program really quick, this will be a go-to one. It’s just a matter of printing and gatherings supplies that are always on hand.