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Use Secret Codes to Build Reading Skill

July 13, 2008 · Filed Under Reading, Writing 

T-f-d-s-f-u  d-p-e-f-t!  Many will remember the fun of using secret codes to send messages.  Children as young as second grade (or whenever reading and writing skills are beginning to develop) can enjoy and benefit from this activity.  Codes provide opportunities to learn spelling concepts, practice phonics skills and use logic and reasoning.  The simplest codes are created using substitution: “a” becomes “b”, “b” becomes “c” and so on, as in the phrase above.  Another simple code can be created by substituting numbers or symbols for letters.  Check your computer’s word processor for fonts of symbol sets…these will print various symbols instead of letters as you type!

Your young child who is learning to read and spell will practice these skills by matching coded symbols, letters, or numbers with a key that you provide.  Your older or more able child will be challenged by trying to decode the message without a key.  He or she will have to use knowledge of the English language (what letters often go together?  What suffixes or prefixes might be on the words?) and will learn about letter frequency.  Did you know that “e” is the most common letter of the alphabet?  “S,” “R,” “M,” “D,” “T,” and “N” are other very common letters to try.  You can add a little zing to messages by writing them in code, and help your child practice many school skills at the same time!

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