From Harriet the Spy to James Bond, spy gear is sure to be a hit with your children. Let them make their own spy gadgets with items you can find or recycle around the house for hours of fun at no cost at all. From secret messages to invisible ink and fingerprint technology, your kids can bring excitement and intrigue to their play. Whether you are filling a rainy afternoon or planning a birthday party complete with dark glasses and trench coats, try these simple projects to make sure your kids are bowing to your super secret-agent powers.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Candle or candle lighter
- Saucers (2)
- Old make-up brush
- Clear tape
- Lemon juice
- Cardboard mailing tube
- Craft knife
- Cardboard scraps
- Duct tape
- Small mirrors (2)
- Swimming goggles
- Light-coloured permanent marker
Use lemon juice to send secret messages. Remember that blank paper is suspicious, so write something innocuous in standard ink. Professional spies suggest a grocery list. A pointed make-up applicator can work well as a pen with lemon juice, but many household items will allow you to write legibly in invisible ink. This is one of the easiest homemade spy gadgets. Apply heat to read your message.
Make fingerprint powder for your spy kit. This homemade spy gadget will require adult assistance. Pour a small amount of cornstarch into a porcelain or stoneware saucer. Take a second saucer and apply a flame using a long-handled candle lighter or candle. Soot will quickly accumulate. Scrape the soot into the cornstarch and stir. Keep adding soot until you have a grey powder. Dust fingerprints with this powder and lift off with clear tape.
Make a periscope to see over fences and around corners. Cut a 2-inch square in one end of your cardboard mailing tube with a craft knife. Cut a 2-inch diagonal slit at each corner of the square. Repeat on the other end of the mailing tube, cutting into the opposite side of the tube. Mount mirrors onto 3-by-4-inch cardboard squares with glue and insert into the slits in your tube. The mirrors should face one another. Use duct tape to close up the ends of your tube.
Turn a pair of ordinary swim goggles into spy goggles. This homemade spy gadget is all about looks, but can be fun for children. Use a permanent marker to colour in the lenses of your spy goggles. Avoid washable markers for this project.
Add to the fun of homemade spy gadgets with an inexpensive digital camera or webcam hidden in a stuffed toy or other item. You might also consider passing along old mobile phones or Bluetooth headsets to your little spies.
Tips and warnings
- Assign a mission to your little spies. Perhaps they can rescue a kidnapped toy, find a missing pet or search out a treasure.
- Use secret codes to send messages.
- Be sure to supervise activities using craft knives or heat to keep kids safe.
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