One of the simplest ways to run a code at a children’s detective or spy party is with the use of a code wheel. Even if children can’t read yet, they can match numbers to letters and copy them out to solve the secret message. They can get someone else to read it to them and still have a great sense of accomplishment. For younger children simply tell them to make sure that the number One – or a number of your choosing – and the letter A are matched up on the code wheel.
For older kids the letter A will not necessarily correspond to the number one. The tricky part can come with how cleverly you hide the clue that reveals which letter to match with the number one to begin the players mission to decipher the code. Unless you start with the correct match, the message will remain a mystery. It could be as easy as “Number 1 matches with the second letter of the birthday boy’s last name” or as complex as “Number 5 matches with the fifth letter of the tenth word of the third paragraph on page 67 of the book about vampires.” And have a selection of books on a shelf or coffee table for the gang to thumb through; but only one book on vampires.
You can also make a code wheel that replaces the numbers with symbols and write the message out in symbols.