Just using the phrase “Secret Missions” spike curiosity in my two young children and they eagerly want to be a part of whatever it is. Every now and then we all need a change of pace. That is where “Secret Missions” come in! Give some variety to your regular routine and sneak in some number, letter and letter sound recognition, along with some writing and reading practice. You can even sneak in some math for an added challenge, if you want. Right now we use “Secret Missions” as a part of our chore routine, hence the lovely hairdos my kiddos are styling with in the picture above.
What You Need:
- Pencil or pen (or markers, if your children are obsessed with them like mine are)
Step 1: Create an encryption code. Keep it simple or make it as complicated as you like. I recommend starting simple and making it more complicated as needed. For now, we assigned a number to each letter of the alphabet in numerical order. It is a good review for my almost 1st grader and a little bit of a challenge for my 4 year old. The 4 year old gets a chance to practice her letter/sound recognition and is able to put a name to some new numbers. She can currently go to 12, so going to 26 is fun little push for her. Plus, she loves to do what her older brother is doing and he loves to help her.
Ideas For Variety Or To Make It More Challenging:
- Assign each letter a number not in numerical order like the above example.
- Add math to the code. Instead of 1, 2, 3 for each letter make it all addition for the code or a variety of addition and subtraction. (i.e. 0+1, 1+1, 2+1 or 2-1, 1+1, 5-2, etc.)
- Add shapes to the code. For additional options you can use patterns (star star or square circle, etc.)
- Or use a variety of above.
Step 2: Create your secret code. This can be whatever you would like…a list of chores, something fun to do, a place you are going, a list of items to pack for a trip or a day out, etc.
Step 3: Decipher the code!
Like I said above, we are currently making our morning chores into “Secret Missions”. We have started with only 3 Missions for now and the current reward is 15 minutes with their favorite computer game. Each child deciphers one mission at a time, then they sound out the words (with help, if needed) and complete the job before they can work on the next Mission. Even though my 6 year old grumbles at the idea of chores and always starts grumbling through the start of figuring out his mission (because that is work for him, too! =-) ), I am amazed at how fast he runs off to do his job and comes back to the table to conquer the next Mission. Even my 4 year old cleaned up her room without me reminding her and did it without asking for help. That never happens!
This is what my son’s final mission looked like when he was done. The next time I write the code I need to make it in lowercase letters, so he does not get in the habit of writing in all caps. (His teacher did not like that last year. =-))