Unleash the spy in your child by getting her to follow a series of clues around the house where encrypted clues have to be decoded. Your child will write down the encrypted clues using code keys and read them out.
This activity breeds familiarity with the English alphabet and provides good reading practice. Not to mention, its tons of fun!
Objective(s) of activity:
Your child has to find clues in sequence in order to find a reward that is hidden.
The clues themselves are encrypted which means that your child has to decode the clues in order to find the next clue.
Two ways of encrypting the clues (1, 2) as well as a template for writing down your encrypted clues are provided. Feel free to use these.
Targeted age group:
Children from 6 to 12 (or older) can participate.
Number of participants:
One child is sufficient to carry out this activity. If there is more than one child participating, you can make them work together.
This activity requires some planning on your part.
First, you will need to get some reward (toy, candy, or something you know your child will like) and hide it in a safe place. The final clue will lead to the location of this reward.
Second, you need to plan how many clues you want. This will depend on how big your house is and how creative you are at coming up with clues. 5 is a good number of clues.
Third, you will need to encrypt your clues using some code. I will describe two ways of encrypting your clues. You may come up with your own if you want.
This is an example I came up with.
In this code key, the word ‘ZOO’ would be represented as ‘ᴧЗЗ’
You can download this printable code key for your own use.
In the example I came up with, I arranged the alphabet and numbers in a circular style like the following.
If you use this method, then you can shift the letters clockwise or anti-clockwise.
Suppose the code shift is Clockwise, 2. The word ‘ZOO’ would be represented as ‘2QQ’.
You can also download this printable code key for your own use.
Once you have decided on a way of encrypting the clues, you can leave the clues in the respective places. You can use these clue templates that I have provided for your convenience.
When all the clues and rewards have been hidden, you can now inform your child that she is going to participate in a treasure hunt and that there is a reward to be collected at the end of it. Your child will need a pencil and blank paper to decode the clue.
Hand your child the first encrypted clue and the decryption key.
You can help with the first clue so that your child becomes familiar with the task.
Follow your child around the house so that you can help your child if she gets stuck.
Notes for scaling up difficulty:
The clues should translate into simple sentences which identify specific locations such as the following:
‘Find the next clue in the laundry basket’
‘Check under your pillow’
If you want the task to be harder, the translated sentences can be clues themselves:
‘Where do you put clothes before washing?’
‘Where do you put your head before sleeping?’
You may also wish to incorporate numbers into your clues. One way to incorporate numbers in your clues is to require your child to carry out a certain action in order to get the next clue.
‘Hop on your right leg 1 time and then hop on your left leg 5 times.’
If you do incorporate numbers into your own activity, you can use the shifted letter code key that I provide.
The clues can be as hard as you want. One word of caution: since the objective of the task is not the riddle aspect of the task but rather the writing aspect, you may not want to make the clues too hard.
Share in the comments what types of clues you came up with and your child’s experience with this activity.