Secret Codes

Books to Share

  • Case of the Backyard Treasure by Joanne Roddin.
  • Case of the Double Cross by Crosby Bonsall.
  • Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg.
  • Unbreakable Code by Sara Hoagland Hunter.

Books to Show and Booktalk

  • Folds and Dead Man's Props by Sharon Bailly.
  • Lu and Clancy's Secret Codes by Adrienne Mason.
  • Navajo Code Talkers by Nathan Aaseng.
  • Pass It On!: All About Notes From Secret Codes and Special Inks To Fancy Secret Codes and Hidden Messages by Jeffrey O'Hare.
  • Usborne Book of Secret Codes by Eileen O'Brien.

Bulletin Board

Break the Code: READ!

In code, write in titles of classic juvenile fiction books on book covers cut out of construction paper folded to look like book covers. Attach the key to the code across bottom of bulletin board and let the children decipher the titles. Variation: Write the title scrambled on the cover and the unscrambled title on the inside of a book cover made from construction paper.


Mission Possible: Spy a Book!

On a poster board, write "Mission Possible: Spy a Book!" in letters and in Morse Code. Display books on Morse Code along with books from the Texas Reading Club bibliography.


Stamp children's hands with Kidstamps Navaho Dancer.



(Add cheerleading motions)

Listen, listen,

But you'll never hear

(insert child's name) give his/her secret cheer.

Yaaa! Yaaa! (Silently wave hands over head)

Stories to Tell

  • "Pass It On" by Elizabeth Ellis in Crazy Gibberish by Naomi Baltuck.
  • "The Princess and the Ogre" adapted by Kaye Lindauer in Joining In by Teresa Miller.

Reader's Theater

Math Curse

Write a reader's theatre script based on the book Math Curse by Jon Sciezka. Choose an exciting and fun part of the book and rewrite it as a dialogue. A narrator will state descriptive information. For more information on reader's theater, see Aaron Shepard's Reader's Theater Page at


"Master of All Masters" from The Flannel Board Storytelling Book 2nd Edition by Judy Sierra.


Door Hanger


  • Poster board
  • Markers


Cut door hangers and give one to each child. Bring out books on codes and let them write a message in a secret code.

Invisible Paint

(Adapted from Science Arts by MaryAnn Kohl.)


  • Cups or small jars
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Cotton swab
  • White paper
  • Purple grape juice
  • Paint brush


Mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda and 4 tablespoons of water in cups or small jars to create "invisible ink". Make one cup or jar per 2 to 3 children. Give each child a sheet of white paper and a cotton swab. They will use the cotton swabs as pens or brushes and dip them in the "invisible ink" to create an invisible picture or message. The children will then brush purple grape juice over the paper when it is completely dry to reveal their secret picture or message.


Code Maker

The children sit in a circle, facing each other. The librarian chooses a child to be the "Code Breaker" and places a blindfold over his/her eyes. The librarian then silently points to another child who becomes the "Code Maker". The Code Maker performs an action and claps in a rhythm. The group repeats it several times. Then the Code Breaker removes the blindfold. The children continue to perform the action and clap in rhythm. The Code Breaker must guess the identity of the Code Maker while the group repeats the code. When the Code Breaker successfully guesses the identity of the Code Maker, that child becomes the new Code Breaker. The former Code Breaker chooses a child to be the new Code Maker.



Let the children translate messages into hieroglyphics using the Online Hieroglyphics Translator at Read more about hieroglyphics at

Make a Puzzles

Puzzlemaker is a puzzle generation tool for teachers, students and parents. Create and print customized word search, crossword and math puzzles using your word lists. Make a puzzle for the children and show them how to make their own at

Pig Latin

Explain Pig Latin to the children and let them practice reading or speaking in Pig Latin. Learn about Pig Latin at the Pig Latin Home Page at Search Igpay Atinlay at

Rebus Writing

A rebus is a representation of a name, word, or phrase using pictures. Show the children some examples of rebus puzzles and explain what they are. Give the children a sheet of rebus puzzles and ask them to try and decipher them individually or as a group. When the children are comfortable with them, let them create some of their own. Examples of rebus puzzles may be viewed at the Middle School Fun Puzzle Page at

Guest Speaker

Hire a magician to perform for the children.

Web Sites

Aaron Shepard's Reader's Theater Page Igpay Atinlay


Middle School Fun Puzzle Page

Mystery Squad

Navajo Code Talker's Dictionary

Online Hieroglyphics Translator

Pig Latin Home Page

Puzzle Maker

Professional Resources

  • Crazy Gibberish and Other Story Hour Stretches: From a Storyteller's Bag of Tricks by Naomi Baltuck.
  • The Flannel Board Storytelling Book 2nd Edition by Judy Sierra.
  • Joining In: An Anthology of Audience Participation Stories and How to Tell Them by Teresa Miller.
  • Science Arts: Discovering Science Through Art by Maryann Kohl.
  • The Secret Code is Read: Texas Reading Club Program 1990 Manual by Jeanette Larsen.


Texas Reading Club 2003 Programming Manual / Mission Possible Spy Book!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011