Do your kids love secret codes? Do they enjoy pretending to be a spy? They’ll love these secret messages inspired by the new Spy Toys book by Mark Powers. A copy of the book was sent to us for review. Learn how to make a simple substitution cypher using toys as the code! I get commissions for purchases made through the affiliate links in this post.
Spy Toys by Mark Powers
Spy Toys is a new chapter book series that’s perfect for young readers. It also makes a great read aloud. My oldest is an avid reader, but this is one that we wanted to read together. Dan is a big robotic teddy bear. He’s supposed to specialize in giving hugs, but something went wrong at the toy factory and he’s too strong to be a gentle snuggly bear. He was sent to the reject pile where he meets Arabella. She’s a “Loadsasmiles Sunshine” doll who isn’t full of sunshine. Instead, she has a bit of a temper. Dan and Arabella eventually escape the toy factory and meet up with Flax – he’s a police robot rabbit that has gone AWOL. The misfit toys are recruited for a secret mission to protect a senator’s eight-year-old son from being kidnapped. They need to go undercover and pretend to be “normal” toys while watching out for the bad guy. Will the team be successful?
Aiden and I enjoyed reading this book. The storyline was playful and unique. I’d never heard of toys being spies before. Had you? It was also interesting that all of the toys made by this one toy manufacturer had some sort of artificial intelligence component. Even the jump rope had a personality and talked. We’re eagerly waiting for the next book in the series.
Secret Messages for Kids: Toy Substitution Cypher
When Aiden and I think of spies, we immediately think about secret messages and creating codes and cyphers. (In case you’re wondering, a code replaces whole words with symbols and a cypher replaces individual letters with letters, numbers, or symbols.) A substitution cypher is probably the most common type of secret message technique. There are so many ways to represent a letter. We were inspired by Spy Toys and created a substitution cypher using toys as the symbols.
Download the free printable toy substitution cypher PDF for your personal or classroom use. (Don’t distribute or sell it. Just send people here to get it.)
The 3 page PDF includes our toy cypher, a secret message to decode, and a blank substitution cypher ready for you to add your own symbols and create your own secret code.
After Aiden decoded the secret message, he wrote a secret message to me.
I decoded it and wrote him one of my own.
We enjoy writing secret messages back and forth like this. I love that secret codes encourage writing practice, too!
More Secret Messages for Kids
- Try these 3 Number Cyphers. Write secret messages with a cypher wheel, number grid, and a simple number substitution.
- Write secret messages with baking soda. Use chemistry to reveal the invisible ink.
- Glyphs are another way to make secret messages. Draw a valentine heart glyph or a monster glyph to hide a message about you.
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