Maybe your kid just came back from a spy movie and wants to play a spy game. This is a chance for you to channel your kid's enthusiasm into an educational opportunity. Assign him a "spy mission" that helps him learn about real-life espionage. At the very least, this task will keep him too busy to annoy your neighbours.
Study the history of American espionage with your child. Start with its Revolutionary War beginnings and trace up to the present day. Give your child the "mission" of reporting on how successful spies influenced the outcome of wars or helped preserve the peace. As a reward, take your child to a spy museum, such as the one in Washington D.C.
American history is full of talented spies, from Nathan Hale to Belle Boyd to -- believe it or not -- Julia Child. Role play as the head of the CIA and assign your child the task of writing a secret "dossier" on a famous spy, whether domestic or foreign. Tell her to "report" important details back to you secretly by putting it in a hidden place to be picked up later. Discuss the details of the report with your child, such as the dangers this spy faced, and whether or not he was successful -- and why.
Teach your child about the history of secret codes and their use in military intelligence and espionage. For a few days, communicate with your child by posting "secret codes" on slips of paper throughout the house. Task him to unscramble the messages. Give him a book about the history of the makers and breakers of secret code, using such examples as the Navajo "Code Talkers" whose language baffled the Japanese and helped the Allies win World War II.
If you have a spy store in your neighbourhood, drop by one day after work and pick up a hollow coin. Use it as an object lesson to show your child the many gadgets spies have used in their secret work. Stick to the real spy gadgets, such as recorder pens, night-vision goggles and secret cameras. Give your child a book about spy paraphernalia or explore an educational website together.
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