2015 Additional Activities

KS2 Reading Secret Messages

Spy satellites - reading secret messages
Satellites (I have read) can take picture of a letter in someone's hand so detailed that someone in another country can read it over their shoulder. With a set of binoculars, from how far away can you read messages written on the computer? Remember that you can change fonts on the computer down to tiny, tiny writing. Use word to print off secret messages that your friend can read only using a set of binoculars. See how far away you can get before you can't read them. Children can read a secret message (once practised) giving them treasure hunt style instructions to get to a prize or treat, or even to a 'secret agent' hidden somewhere in the building.

  • Pictures of satellites/books/websites
  • Binoculars - as many as you can get
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Secret messages typed and printed in tiny fonts (e.g. 2pt.)
  • Measuring devices - tape measures, metre sticks, pacing
  • Treasure/prizes/another adult hiding as a secret agent
Children could work in pairs or threes - you can take as many children as you are comfortable with or have materials for. I would recommend not more than 10 - 15 if working with only 1 other adult as some children will need help with measuring and altering binoculars. .

Expected duration
From 1 hour to a whole afternoon - especially if you combine it with a secret message that tells children where something good is hidden. .

  • Show the children pictures, etc. or websites.
  • Talk through what they are and what they do (the sites suggested above should help - get them to find out themselves if you like).
  • Ask about spy satellites - get them interested with talk of James Bond,etc.
  • Tell them we are going to be working for MI6 today and we need to find out how to make simple hearing devices for when agents are stranded in a sticky situation with no equipment.
  • Give them the materials and show how binoculars can be adjusted/magnifiers work.
  • Give each group a printed message - don't start too small so that they have some success to begin with. Then as time goes on make the messages smaller and more interesting, perhaps giving more clues as to the identity of the secret agent.
  • Binoculars have glass in them - take care over dropping etc
  • If using prizes then check food allergies in sweets
  • For children searching for prize/agent ensure children accompanied and that younger children work with older.
  • Take care over discrimination against those with visual difficulties or with literacy difficulties. For the former choose another activity, for the latter, treat with sensitivity and ensure they are in a sympathetic group.