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How to make homemade spy gadgets for kids

Updated February 21, 2017

Children love the excitement and secrecy of the world of pretend espionage. Making homemade spy gadgets for kids is affordable and a project that can involve the whole family or class. Using common, inexpensive materials, you can create spy gadgets for your children or pupils and inspire creativity and learning. Encourage children to research Egyptian hieroglyphics and other shapes or symbols for use in their own secret spy codes.

Secret code

Write the alphabet onto paper leaving room beneath each letter to draw a symbol.

Assign a symbol to each letter. According to Great Scott website, “Alphabet characters were the basis for hieroglyphic writings.” You’ll need to decide on 26 symbols, a lot less than the 2,000 hieroglyphs used by the Egyptians in ancient times. Encourage children to research hieroglyphs.

Write a symbol beneath each letter. Write a message using the symbols representing letters. This is a secret code.

Secret code decoder wheel

Center a 7.5 cm (3 inch) diameter cardstock circle on top of a 12.5 cm (5 inch) diameter circle. Lightly trace around the smaller circle in pencil.

Measure 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) from the outside edge of the 7.5 cm (3 inch) circle and mark a pencil dot.

Cut a 6 mm (1/4 inch) long by 6 mm (1/4 inch) wide square over the pencil dot. This is the viewer window on the decoding wheel. Look through this square to see the letter that corresponds to the symbol in your spy code.

Center the 7.5 cm (3 inch) circle on top of the 12.5 cm (5 inch) circle. Poke the prongs of a brad through the centre of the two circles. Spread open the prongs on the back of the wheel.

Write the alphabet, one letter at a time, in the viewer window, turning the wheel clockwise, until all 26 letters are beneath the 7.5 cm (3 inch) wheel.

Draw the corresponding symbol assigned to each letter along the edge of the 12.5 cm (5 inch) wheel, above the letter seen through the viewer window on the 7.5 cm (3 inch) wheel. For instance, if you assigned a star to the letter F, the 12.5 cm (5 inch) wheel will have a star, and when you turn the viewer window beneath the star, you’ll see an F in the window.

Invisible spy ink

Cut a lemon in half. Squish the lemon over a cup until the juice is drained. According to Science Kids, “Lemon juice is an organic substance that oxidises and turns brown when heated.”

Use an eye dropper to add about three drops of water to the lemon juice. Mix with a spoon.

Use a cotton swab as a “pen” by inserting the swab into the juice/water, and writing on paper. Allow juice/paper to dry.

Read the message by holding the paper next to the lamp’s light bulb. According to Science Kids, you can also make invisible ink from vinegar, orange juice, onion juice, honey and milk.

Secret agent lipstick note holder

Use a ruler to measure a 30 cm (12 inch) long by 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide rectangle of paper. Cut the strip from the paper with scissors.

Write a message on the strip. Roll the strip into a coil.

Insert the message into the lipstick and “smuggle” it to your secret agent. No one knows it’s really a secret message. It looks like an ordinary lipstick container.

Things You'll Need

  • White paper
  • Pencil
  • 1 cardstock circle, 12.5 cm (5 inch) diameter
  • 1 cardstock circle, 7.5 cm (3 inch) diameter
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • 1 brad
  • Lemon
  • Knife
  • Cup
  • Eyedropper
  • Water
  • Spoon
  • Lamp
  • Cotton swab
  • Lipstick container - clean, empty
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About the Author

Louise Harding holds a B.A. in English language arts and is a licensed teacher. Harding is a professional fiction writer. She is mother to four children, two adopted internationally, and has had small businesses involving sewing and crafting for children and the home. Harding's frugal domestic skills help readers save money around the home.