Kids love secret codes! Who wouldn’t want to be able to write messages to friends that no one else (especially those pesky grown-ups) will be able to read? Many secret codes for kids, (like this one), rely on numbers as a substitution for letters, but the pigpen cipher substitutes symbols for letters.
The pigpen cipher is centuries old, and therefore comes in several variations. Symbols are created using grids so that each letter is substituted by a partial grid with or without a dot.
The code is easy to learn and fun to decipher and anyone can become a cryptographer with the pigpen cipher. Even kids who don’t like writing will enjoy composing messages to friends and family members, perhaps even sending grandma a coded postcard in the mail.
Kids who love to engage in pretend play will get a kick out of practicing their spy and detective work using secret codes. Writing secret messages in the pigpen cipher is also a great spy party game! Be sure to check out all our spy activities for kids.
How to Write in Pigpen Cipher
Have your child draw the following decoder before attempting to write a coded message:
Now, practice writing letters individually. Each letter is surrounded by 2 or more lines of the grid and may include a dot.
For example, “E” is written as a box, “N” is written as a box with a dot inside. “W” is written as a “V” with a dot at the inside low point.
Here is an example of a message in the process of being decoded:
Now kids are ready to write in secret code and be professional codebreakers!
Can they decode this message?
How about this one?
Be careful! A good spy never lets the cipher fall into the wrong hands!
More fun for budding spies: