Celebrations Program - Catch a Spy
by Rebecca Ivey

Can't view this? It's on Youtube: http://youtu.be/d6QgyGoMJH8

Books to Share

006 and a Half by Kes Gray
Agent A to Agent Z by Andy Rash
Commander Toad and the Intergalactic Spy by Jane Yolen and Bruce Degen
The Mystery of King Karfu by Doug Cushman

Books to Show or Booktalk

The Black Paw by Heather Vogel Frederick
Gilda Joyce: The Dead Drop by Jennifer Allison
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
I Spy Spooky Night: a Book of Picture Riddles by Walter Wick
Kate and the Spies: The American Revolution by JoAnn Grote
Secrets, Lies, Gizmos, and Spies: A History of Spies and Espionage by Janet Wyman Coleman

Bulletin Board

Top Ten Most Wanted

Cover the bulletin board with black butcher paper.  Title the bulletin board the “Ten Most Wanted.”  Then, place pictures of the ten most wanted items on the board.  The ten most wanted can be authors, books, programs, people, animals, etc.

Print Me

Cover the bulletin board in back butcher paper. Have an enlarged picture of a real fingerprint at the center of the board. Provide small ballots of a variety of photocopied fingerprints or of partial prints.  Have the children try to guess which print matches the large one on the bulletin board.


CIA Badges

For nametags, have the children make CIA Badges.  Have a staff member take digital pictures of the children.  Print these out while the children are making the rest of the badges.  The rest of the badge will include their name (real name and code name) and the attached CIA Seal.  The CIA Seal will be on the right side of the badge, and the names and picture will be on the left side. When the pictures are ready, have them glue their pictures above their name.  The CIA Seal can be found on their website, https://www.cia.gov/kids-page/k-5th-grade/index.html.


Code That

Have a collection of items (books, print outs, decorations) of code related paraphernalia.  Some examples of different codes are:  Morse Code, Hieroglyphics, Cipher Discs, and the Rosetta Stone.


Decorate the room like a top secret hideout.  Hang “Do Not Enter” signs, “Top Secret” signs, and include a list of the “Top Ten Most Wanted” (similar to the bulletin board), and cutouts of fingerprints.  Disposable cameras and little notepads can be displayed on tables.


Code Cake and “Poison Punch”

For refreshments serve a cake with the letters written backwards or “in code.”  Serve yellow or green colored punch or kool-aid, to resemble poison.


Guess That Print

See Bulletin Board.  Have children match the fingerprint on the bulletin board.

Costumes and Props

Costumes can include any kind of disguise: glasses, mustaches, facial moles, dark sunglasses, etc.


10 Little Spies (Adapted by Rebecca Ivey. Sing to the tune of “10 Little Indians”.)

One little, two little, three little spies
Four little, five little, six little spies
Seven little, eight little, nine little spies
Ten little spies go shh, shh, shh

Dance and Movement Songs

Spies on the Train (Adapted by Rebecca Ivey. Sing to the tune of “Wheels on the Bus”.)  See the video above for a demonstration of this song.

The spies on the train go sneak, sneak, sneak   (tip-toe)
Sneak, sneak, sneak
Sneak, sneak, sneak,
The spies on the train go sneak, sneak, sneak
All through the town

The spies on the train go hide and seek   (hide behind hands)
Hide and seek,
Hide and seek,
The spies on the train go hide and seek
All through the town

The spies on the train go shh, shh, shh   (hold finger up to mouth)
Shh, shh, shh,
Shh, shh, shh,
The spies on the train go shh, shh, shh 
All through the town

Action Rhymes

Gregory Griggs (Traditional)

Gregory Griggs, Gregory Griggs,
Had twenty-seven different wigs.   (pat head)
He wore them up, he wore them down   (stand on tippy toes, squat down)
To please the people of the town.
He wore them east,   (walk right)
He wore them west,   (walk left)
But he never could tell which one he loved best.   (shrug shoulders)

We’re Going on a Spy Hunt (Adapted by Rebecca Ivey. Sing to the tune of “We’re Going On a Bear Hunt”)  See the video above for a demonstration of this song.

We’re going on a spy hunt.   (put hand over eyebrows and look around)
We’re going to catch a tricky one.   (shake head “yes”)
What a beautiful day!

We’re not scared.   (shake head “no”)
Oh-oh! Grass!   (point)
Long, wavy grass.
Can’t go over it.
Can’t go under it.
Oh, no!
We’ve got to go through it!
Swishy swashy!   (pretend to wade through grass)
Swishy swashy!
Swishy swashy!

Oh-oh! A river!  A deep cold river.…
Splash splosh!   (repeat 3 times and pretend to splash in water)

Oh-oh! Mud! Thick, oozy mud….
Squelch squelch!  (3 times)   (pretend to be stuck in mud)

Oh-no!  A spy cave.  A dark, narrow spy cave….
Tiptoe! Tiptoe! Tiptoe!   (tiptoe)
What’s that?
IT’S A SPY!!  RUN!! (run)

Back through the cave Tiptoe, Tiptoe, Tiptoe   (tiptoe)
Back through the mud Squelch Squelch   (struggle in mud)
Back through the grass Swishy Swashy   (wade through grass)

Whew! We made it home.   (wipe hand over forehead)

Let’s go on a spy hunt another day.

Flannel Boards

I Spy

Place several everyday objects (marbles, buttons, picture frames, flowers, bows, etc.) all jumbled together on the board.  Have the board completely covered with objects.  Have the children search for certain objects.

Stories to Tell

“Tell the story, “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” from Aesop’s Fables, to discuss disguises.


Cipher Disk


If you can't view this video, try it on Youtube: http://youtu.be/_OuUbV0RYbY

Template 1 (pdf)
Template 2 (pdf)

  • Cipher Disk Template
  • Scissors
  • Brads
  • Hole Punch
  • Secret Code

Prior to the program, make copies of the cipher disk templates and create a secret message for the children.   Let the children cut out the circles from the template and punch holes in the center of the template. Then they will line up the holes and put the brads through the middle.  Next, have them decipher the coded message providedIf there is time, let them write their name in code and create their own secret messages.

  • Ink pads in different colors
  • Markers
  • Construction Paper

Have the children use the ink pad to take their fingerprints.  Thumb prints work the best, but all of the prints can be used.  Apply the ink covered fingertips to the paper.  Use the markers to decorate the fingerprints and make them into different characters, like people or animals.

  • Poster Paint
  • Paper
  • Markers
  • Paintbrushes

Paint the child’s hand with poster paint.  Apply handprint onto the paper.  Wait for the paint to dry.  When this is dry, decorate the handprint as desired.  Some ideas include flowers, turkeys, ghosts, giraffes and butterflies.

Invisible Ink
  • Lemon Juice
  • Paintbrush
  • Heat Source (lamp, hairdryer)
  • White Paper
  • Small Cups

Place lemon juice in a small cup. Apply the lemon juice with the paintbrush onto the white paper. Let the lemon juice ink dry for a few minutes.  Once the lemon juice ink is dry, hold it up to the heat source.  The lemon juice will turn brownish and the message with appear.

Games and Activities

Find the Fingerprints

Have the children search for fingerprints in a certain area of the library (computers, program room, on books).  Provide them with fingerprint dust and paintbrushes.  Once they pick a surface, the children can sprinkle on some dust, and gently rub it away with a paintbrush.  Fingerprint dust can be made by grounding up graphite, or by using cocoa powder.  There are also kits that can be bought online here.

I Spy Around the Library

Provide the children with a list (or pictures if it is a younger audience) of items that can be found in the library.  Have the children search the library for these items. 

Shadow the “Suspect”

Have a staff members walk around the library as a suspect, doing various predetermined tasks.  Have the children break into groups and shadow the suspect for a set amount of time.  When the children return, ask questions about the suspect to see what the children remember.  These can be questions about the tasks performed, what the suspect was wearing, or who the suspect talked to.

Spy Relay Race

Break the children into small groups.  Provide the children with different disguises, such as wigs, glasses, and hats.  Each member of the group will have to put on the disguise, race out to the “mission point” and then race back to “headquarters.”  Each member of the group will have to do this.  The first group that completes this task wins the game.  This game is best played outside, but can be done inside in a large area.

Web-Based Activities

Several web sites provide interactive spy games.  Scholastic has an I Spy game that children can play.  The CIA Website has a special children's page with games and information about the CIA.  CryptoChildren is another fun site, with lots of games and information about codes and code breaking.

Guest Speakers

Invite someone from the military or a local expert to teach the audience Morse Code.


Aesop's Fables by Aesop and Jerry Pinkney
The Complete Book of Activities, Games, Stories, Props, Recipes, and Dances for Young Children by Pamela Byrne Schiller and Jackie Silberg
Ed Emberley's Great Thumbprint Drawing Book by Ed Emberley

Central Intelligence Agency: Kid’s Page - designed for children and their parents to learn more about the CIA.  It includes activities and games for the whole family.

Buy.com - website for buying a variety of items, including a fingerprint kit.

Scholastic - many I Spy games and puzzles for children.

CryptoChildren - has many games, puzzles, codes and other activities for children.

Top Spy Secrets - great resource for children who want information about spies, codes, gadgets and their missions.

Page last modified: December 4, 2013