Kids will like anything secret

About 6 months ago Katie was at a stage where she could fairly easily read syllables, but reading whole words required much more effort.  She didn’t have the attention span or the patience to read anything long, and reading a few random sentences out of a some book just wasn’t that much fun.  But where could one find such short snippets that she would be interested in reading?

The solution was simple: create them!  Every evening I would write her a message that she would then read the next day.  It almost didn’t matter what I wrote; she was excited to read them because they were written especially for her.  She would even complain on the days that I would forget to write her one and remind me to not forget the next day.

After a while I decided that maybe I could use these messages to practice her writing as well as her reading, so I started asking her questions in my notes.  However, I did not get the desired effect since she would usually either draw something for me or tell me the answer in person when I got home from work.  Occasionally, she would write one word.

And that’s where kids’ love of secrets came to the rescue.  I asked Katie whether she would like me to write her messages that only she and I could read.  Naturally, she found this idea super exciting.  The code was very simple: each letter was replaced by it’s place in the alphabet.

Katie understood what to do really quickly.  After we deciphered the first message together, she was able to do them on her own from then on.  The process required her to write the correct letter below each number and then read (as well as understand) what she wrote.  Mission accomplished!

Here is a small sample of the notes that she has deciphered, in roughly chronological order.  The first picture is of the very first secret message that I wrote to her.

ImageKatie loves Zoe

ImageDraw a circle and a square

ImageWhat city do you live in?

What is your favorite color?

ImageSay hello to grandpa and grandma

About aofradkin

I enjoy thinking about presenting mathematical concepts to young children in exciting and engaging ways.
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3 Responses to Kids will like anything secret

  1. I will be trying this with my kids.
    I loved those kind of things growing up!
    Thanks 🙂


  2. This is really cool (and quite impressive!). I’m planning to do secret codes with the kids in class in the fall – can’t wait for it! Do you have a code sheet so she doesn’t have to count to each letter every time (i.e., a list of the alphabet with the correct numbers corresponding to letters)?


    • aofradkin says:

      Yes, we have a code sheet, which I think is pretty essential. I think that otherwise it would take a really long time to decipher the messages. In fact, I also use the code sheet when I write the notes. It is easy to make and there is absolutely no reason not to have it. Let me know how your experiments work out.


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