How to create a secret code for kids

Written by lynn holmgren
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Most kids love a good mystery story and would jump at the chance to play detective themselves. Parents can get in on the game too by creating a secret code for the kids to crack. The code can be made simple or more complex, depending on the age of the children. A secret code can be made up of symbols, scrambled letters or another language.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Choose the message that will be revealed when the code is cracked. Write the message out clearly on a piece of paper.

  2. 2

    Decide what kind of code you will use to encrypt the message.

  3. 3

    Create your own symbols or use common ones to stand in for the letters. Be consistent and always use the same symbols for the same letters if they appear multiple times. Provide the detectives with a symbol decoding sheet that will help them crack the code.

  4. 4

    Write the message on a clean piece of paper with lemon juice so that the message can be read only when it is held up to the light. Fill an eyedropper with lemon juice to write your message.

  5. 5

    Create a code where each letter stands for a different letter, making the code unreadable until each letter is translated correctly. Alternatively, use a number to stand in for each letter of the message.

  6. 6

    Compose the message in pig Latin. Place each word's initial consonant sound at the end of the word, with "-aye" affixed to it.

  7. 7

    Create a secret computer code message by typing it out in a normal font and then selecting a code font such as "Windings" or "Webdings" that will replace the letters with odd symbols. Have the kids crack the code by switching the font back to "Times New Roman" or another readable font.

  8. 8

    Scramble the letters of each word or write each word backwards to create your secret code.

Tips and warnings

  • Use symbols that are easy to draw, such as dashes, circles or other simple shapes. The easier it is to draw, the quicker you can write them.
  • After you encrypt your message in the secret code, decode it yourself to make sure that it is accurate.

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