Develop a secret symbol for every letter of the alphabet and practice creating coded messages with your child to illustrated how code is used to share messages between people, machines, computers, AND robots.
Help Them Lead at Home
Talk: With your family or caregiver, discuss the concept of a code. What does the term mean to your child?
Explain that a code is a system of symbols (usually in the form of words, letters, shapes, or figures) that
stand for something other than itself. In other words, codes usually have a secret meaning! Codes are used
for many different things, and today you will explore a couple different ways that codes are used.
Do: Human Codes: Look over the Top Secret Code Sheet and read the directions together. Explain that
as a family, you are going to create a secret alphabet code by developing a special symbol to represent
every letter of the alphabet. Once your code is complete, write each other notes using these symbols!
Then exchange your notes and use your Top Secret Code Sheet to decode each message. It may be
helpful for your child to write each alphabet letter above the symbol once they have decoded it, so they
can easily see how the letters make up a word!
Machine Codes: Now that you have practiced writing secret codes, explain that codes are also used
by non-humans: machines, computers, and robots all use code too! There are special code languages that
tell machines exactly what to do. Some code languages are very simple, and others are more complicated,
but they all provide step-by-step instructions for the machine. There are many different resources that
help children learn to code, but one (or both!) of the following websites are great starting points:
● NASA offers a collection of computer science resources for all ages. Explore the fundamental
concepts of computers using games and simulations or investigate binary code by completing
a paint by the numbers. You can even practice coding human “robots”! https://www.nasa.gov/