What it is: Crypto Kids is a website created by the National Security Agency all about creating and breaking codes. This is a fantastic critical thinking website that also taps into math, linguistics, engineering, and analyzing skills. I found Crypto Kids while I was hunting for an activity for students to learn more about codes as part of our Treasures reading series. Crypto Kids turns out to be an excellent site for all elementary classrooms. Students learn all about cryptology, the National Security Agency, and ciphers. Students get the chance to meet the characters of Crypto Kids which include: Crypto Cat, Decipher Dog, Rosetta Stone, Slate, Joules, T. Top, and the leader CSS Sam. Students can play logic games to test out their code breaking skills. There are three levels of game play beginner, intermediate, and advanced. As students play games, they will learn Morse Code, complete brainteasers that involve math and logic, create their own cipher machines, crack Yardleygrams and cryptograms, and learn some words in different languages. Students can then learn more about careers that use cryptograms and code breaking at the National Security Agency.
How to integrate Crypto Kids into the classroom: Crypto Kids is packed full of thinking and logic games and activities, many of which involve mathematical problem solving. Crypto Kids games and activities are a great way to get your students thinking critically before math class. Put one of the brain teasers up on the projector connected computer or interactive whiteboard for students to solve as a warm up activity. Crypto Kids games are short enough that they could be used as a math center activity on classroom computers. Students can visit the center in pairs or small groups and work on solving cryptograms together. The Yardleygrams are stories that must be solved, these are fun to solve as a whole class.
Since I was using this site to build background knowledge about codes with my students, we focused on what secret codes were, how they were used, and cracked some codes for practice. As an extension activity, I had students read the descriptions of the characters on Crypto Kids and write a short story about the character. These turned out great! Students have to use the character qualities that are written and craft a story about the character, paying attention to how they think the character would act and what special skills they could use to solve a problem.
Tips: Check out the Teacher/Parent section of the site for some additional resources.
Please leave a comment and share how you are using Crypto Kids in your classroom.