August 17, 2010
Codes for Kids
Every secret agent needs to be able to decipher secret messages. To continue with our theme this week, I created this simple cipher for E to decode. There are plenty of kid-friendly codes you can use, but my favorite is the Pigpen Cipher. Possibly originating during the Crusades, it was used by masons in the 18th century and Confederates during the Civil War. Letters are written in a grid, and each letter is represented by the lines and dots within its portion of the grid.
I wrote the key at the top of the page and then wrote my message underneath, in this case the name of E's friend who was coming for a (surprise) playdate today.
It took a couple examples, but I was surprised how quickly E caught on. She looked at the shape and then tried to find the letter that was surrounded by the shape.
In no time, she'd solved the puzzle and was obviously thrilled with the surprise message.
Codes and Ciphers by Sean Callery
This isn't a kids book, but it's worth having in your library if you are at all interested in the subject. The book covers historic codes and ciphers through the ages, giving their history and how to solve them. I know, it seems unbelievably nerdy, but if you at all enjoyed The Davinci Code or National Treasure, then you deserve to give this book a chance.