How to Encrypt Messages for a Kids' Spy Club

The infamous Enigma machine.
The infamous Enigma machine. | Source

Kids love spys and anything secret! If they haven't been exposed to exactly what spies are and what they do, this could open up a whole new world for them. Kids get excited when they know something that other people don't, and sending secret messages that cannot be deciphered by the average Joe - or an older sibling makes it all the more fun.

This hub will cover the following topics to get your kids started in the world of espionage:

  • How to Start a Spy Club for Kids
  • Secret Writing with Lemon Juice
  • Secret Messages
  • Secret Message Decoder

Spy IDs and other materials.
Spy IDs and other materials. | Source

As a kid did you ever play spies, or secret agent?

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How to Start a Spy Club for Kids

I don't think the spy world is as big for kids now as it was back when I was a kid (that wasn't too long ago - badum-badum). James Bond was for everyone, and when his movies hit TV, well, for the next couple of months, it was spy-mania! Everyone was like, last name, first name, last name. If the name was short, it worked, but if your name was Faainuinu, Samson Faainuinu - well, it didn't work out so great.

Okay, first thing we need to do is a little explaining - just to make sure there's no mix up with what the kids are thinking spies are today. Let them know that it is a secret, very secret game that no one else knows they are playing. It comes with a secret handshake, and secret passwords that only spies that are on your side will know.

Procure some cheap dark sunglasses, hats of any kind, briefcases, and all sorts of disguises and costumes. You could even have the kids watch a few spy movies to get them excited - anything PG should be clean enough to have the kids enjoy.

Once you've got the kids wired up, start working on their wardrobe. If you don't mind guns, let them use water guns, if not, make rules that will address what they can use - like flash lights. You can even make them utility belts by sticking things into a belt. Either way, keep it simple, and make sure that it's safe.

Construct maps to each team's treasure using secret messages as hints for each team. You can make it as simple or as hard as you need to match the group's skill.

Split your group of spies into two groups, and set up bases for each team. Later, once you give them the gist of the game, they'll be able to carry on however their group wants to.

Source

Secret Writing with Lemon Juice

You can give each team instructions that cannot be seen on paper by using a secret spy technique. If you look at a piece of paper, it seems to be blank, but under closer inspection you find that there is a hidden message on the paper.

By using lemon or milk as your ink, and using a Q-tip to dip into it, you can then proceed to write out your message. Use regular blank typewriter or copy paper. When you write your message, try to write big enough so that it can be easily read. Make broad strokes and ensure that the letters are written clearly enough. It will appear darker when the lemon juice or mile is wet, but once it dries thoroughly, you won't be able to tell that there is a secret message on the paper.

To be able to read what's on the paper, hold it up to a light source or a heat source - the sunlight, a or lightbulb will do just fine - and you will see that the message can be easily read. The area where the lemon juice was used will appear to darken making it easy to read on the white paper.

Writing backwards as Leonardo DaVinci to keep his inventions secret.
Writing backwards as Leonardo DaVinci to keep his inventions secret. | Source
Use a mirror to read secret writings.
Use a mirror to read secret writings. | Source

Secret Messages

Secret messages can be written in several different ways. One of my favorite types, is in writing backwards. I was a huge fan of Leonardo DaVinci when I was a younger man. I read everything I could get my hands on because - aside from an outstanding artist - he was also an inventor of things well beyond his years. To keep his drawings and plans secret, he wrote backwards. If you are left handed as he was, it will be easier, but not at all impossible.

Start writing from right to left. This may take a little getting used to, but practice makes perfect. You can use a mirror to assist you, but after awhile, it will come naturally. Once you are able to do this, you will never forget how to do it - like riding a bicycle. Once your secret messages are completed, your spies will know that they can easily use a mirror to read any secret message.

After marking your decoder, write the letters that will match up to the marks first.
After marking your decoder, write the letters that will match up to the marks first. | Source
Next, fill in the spaces with other letters that will hide the secret message.
Next, fill in the spaces with other letters that will hide the secret message. | Source
When lined up to the decoder, the letters above the marks will reveal a secret message.
When lined up to the decoder, the letters above the marks will reveal a secret message. | Source

Secret Message Decoder

Making a message decoder is simple and easy, and you can choose how sophisticated you want to make it. At it's simplest form, you can use any straight edge or paper to make marks where it will be able to show selected letters of the message itself. You can use marks on a paper like the example shown which will line up with the right letters to form a secret message.

Another way you can simulate the marks on a paper is to use a hole punch and line up the holes with the letters to read the secret message. Two different ways to accomplish the same things.

This is a great way to get un-plugged from the electronic devices, and get your kids outside in the sun using their muscles and brains to win. Peace. Kawi.

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Comments 2 comments

KawikaChann profile image

KawikaChann 2 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place Author

It was a lot of fun writing this one - good memories. Thanks for your comment. Peace. Kawi.


DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

DrBill-WmL-Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

Oh, my. You brought back so many memories from so many years ago! Keep them coming... ;-)

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