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How to Make a Secret Coded Message and 3 Codes

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Spark some fun today by doing secret code writing. Learning to make a secret code to cracking a coded message, your kids will love it all!

How to Make a Secret Coded Message and 3 Codes

Why Use Coded Messages with Kids

Coded messages are a great way to spark some fun in the day. The possibilities are endless for what you can use coded messages for.

One way you can use secret code writing is to help your kids learn how to use a key. Many kids are unfamiliar with the idea of a key.

When you introduce it in a fun way, like through coded messages, your kids are likely to want to participate and remember how to use a key. This is a fun way to introduce the idea of substitution.

Otherwise, straightforward clues in a scavenger hunt are made a bit more challenging and fun with secret code writing.

Add more levels of learning to your next scavenger hunt by having your kids or students crack a coded message.

Secret code writing helps kids to think differently. They will need to plan out what they want to say, come up with a key or a rule, and follow the key (or rule) to create a coded message.

Creating and following rules are used in mathematics. By using coded messages, you are helping your kids to develop stronger mathematical thinking.

Learning how to make a secret code will help your kids to think outside the box. Once they have learned how to make a secret code, the sky is the limit as to what they can turn into a coded message.

Fun facts about a topic they are studying can be turned into a coded message.

How to Make a Secret Coded Message and 3 Codes

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How to Make a Secret Code

1- Come up with a key or a rule for your code. This can be as simple as shifting all the letters one or two letters. For example, if you wanted to write the letter A you would write the letter B on your sheet.

There are more secret code-writing code ideas below.

2- Write your code written on scrap paper and then make the dashes needed for each letter of the word. Be sure to leave spaces between words.

3- Use your key to write the new letter, number, or symbol used for the letters in your words under the dashes.

3- Optional— Hide your secret code writing for your kids to find.

4- Have your kids use the key or rule to read the code.

How to Make a Secret Coded Message and 3 Codes

Different Types of Secret Code Writing

Letter Swap

When using a letter swap in secret code writing, there is a key to follow. If you want to write the letter A, then you would put a different letter (like the letter B).

To make it more challenging, have the letter A swap out of letter N and continue assigning letters in order from N. Letter B would swap for O, etc.

Backward Words

Write each word backwards. For example, the word ‘cat’ would be written as ‘tac’. For an extra challenge, write the whole coded message backward.

Book Cipher

Grab a book and get to secret code writing by finding the word you want to use in your code in the book.

From there, you write down the page number, the line number (the first line on the page is number 1, the second line is 2, etc.), and the number of words over on that line that the word you want to use is (if the word is the third word over on the line you would write a 3).

Separate these numbers with dashes. Find your next word in the book and follow the same pattern. Page-Line- Number of words from the beginning of the line.

Be sure to leave the book with the coded message!

How to Make a Secret Coded Message and 3 Codes

Numbers for Letters

Assign each letter a number. A simple code would have the letter A be 1, the letter B be 2, etc.

A more challenging secret code to crack would be to start numbering letters from a letter in the middle of the alphabet or change the letter Z to 1, change the letter Y to 2, etc.


Create a key where different symbols mean different letters or words.

Use Invisible Ink

No one can read your secret code if they can’t see it! Here’s how to make invisible ink!

How to Make a Secret Coded Message and 3 Codes

Secret Code Practice for Kids

Coded Message

Learning how to make a secret code can be a wonderful challenge for your kids or students.

Once the secret code is written, it can be exchanged, and someone else can try to decipher the secret code writing. Let the fun begin with secret code writing!

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