Code Breakers

ALT reads a series of numbers and students must convert them to letters to figure out the secret word.

Submitted by rtrinh

May 14, 2018

Inspired: What would you like?

Estimated time: 15-20 minutes

Materials Needed
Prepare a handout with the cipher or give each group a set of letters for them to figure it out themselves. For example, A = 1, B = 2, C = 3, .... Z = 26. It is recommended to have on hand a premade list of the codes: 14 15 --> NO, 2 15 15 11 --> BOOK, etc.

Detailed Directions
1. Split the students into groups.

Playing by rows: First person in each row will write on the board while the second person breaks the code and yells out the corresponding letter.
Playing in lunch groups: Each group can be given a whiteboard or they can raise their hand to answer.
*Can be modified into a pair or an individual activity. "

2. Reward points to the groups who break the code. It's recommended to reward the fastest two or three teams, instead of only one as this prevents any one team from dominating the game.

  1. OdafromTaijima April 6, 2020

    Do you have an example of the handout that you use?

  2. Keith Miyazaki February 4, 2022

    For a greater challenge, you could introduce your students to the Vigenere cipher. Websites for easy encryption and decryption can be found at:

    Maybe put this as a challenge on your English Board for a month. If any student shows you the decrypted message, give them a sticker or another prize.

  3. Viking March 11, 2022

    @Keith Miyazaki I loved the idea of putting a code on an English Board and decided to try it out this month. I ended up not using a Vigenere cipher because I think thats a little too hard for first time code breakers and went with a simple dot point cipher. It has been a huge hit and the kids love it so much that Im going to make it a returning feature on my board. Next month with be a ceaser shift cipher and hopefully I can work the students up to more difficult puzzles. Thanks for the idea!

  4. Keith Miyazaki March 11, 2022

    Hi Viking @ {}
    I'm really glad to hear that! What an excellent challenge. May it appear on many English Boards.

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