Unbreakable Code: The Navajo Code
Early in World War Two an American named Philip Johnston proposed a code based on the  language of the Native American Navajo people. Having growing up the son of a missionary to the Navajo people, Johnston was one of the few non-Navajo to speak the language.   This code was vital during the battle for the Pacific and the Najava Code talkers were commended for their abilities.  The video at this link gives a brief background of code that was never broken.


You can make a simple fingerprint dusting set with the following materials: talcum powder or baking soda (that is what we used), cocoa powder, make-up brush, clear tape, white and black paper.

To make collecting fingerprints easier we rubbed olive oil on our hands and then picked up drinking glasses.  We then dusted either baking soda (onto the darker surface—purple glass) or cocoa powder (onto the lighter surface—yellow glass) to find the fingerprints.  We then gently pressed clear tape over the fingerprints and finally taped the fingerprints to either white paper (for the cocoa powder) or black paper (for the baking soda).


Print out my Spy Code Worksheet and together as a family decipher the secret message.  You could also encourage your older child to make his/her own secret code.  Check these websites for some code ideas: - This one offers many different codes. - This one is very user friendly and has a cipher wheel you can make yourself. - This page is more of an essay but it does offer a cipher ring.

Learning Activities

Forensic Science

More Fun Learning...

For some detective fun for kids try this site which has your child searching for historical clues :

For some information on espionage check here:

For a real life mystery read up on the Kryptos sculpture at the CIA building in Virginia which has encrypted messages on it . Of the four messages only three have been solved.

There are a number of historical spies you can research online as well.  Try to find some information on the following people:  Chevalier d’Eon,  James Rivington, Robert Townsend (spy).

What can you deduce by examining a room in your house.  What was eaten for breakfast?  What did someone read the night before?  Where might people have gone by examining their dirty laundry?

Older kids might be interested in learning about Morse Code.  Check here for info: