Spies in the American Revolution were a huge part of the patriots winning. Therefore, no unit study on the Revolutionary war should go without diving into a little bit of fun with secret codes, hidden clues, and espionage!
While driving across America on a road school trip, we stopped by both the former homes of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington as well as a trip into Philadelphia where we learned much about Benjamin Franklin. In each museum, there was always some mention of the spies of the American Revolution and in some cases like in the kids’ discovery area at Monticello, they had a hands-on spy decoding wheel.
But if you can’t go on a long trip or make your own decoding wheel, there are a lot of fun an easy ways to show kids how one might send a secret or encrypted message to someone behind enemy lines.
Our favorite and easiest spy project was using a sort of invisible ink. While it’s nothing new in terms of the idea, how we went about it was my personal favorite because it was simple and mess free unlike the lemon juice or milk tricks… which are still fun and viable, but take way longer than 5 minutes.
Make a Self Correcting American Revolution Spy Game or Quiz
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We chose some important quotes from notable founding fathers and revolutionary figures to make a quick quiz. While the subject matter of the game or quiz was not about specific agents in the field or defectors, it was a way to recap what our kids knew about the Revolutionary war while also testing to see if they could remember fun facts or be able to identify “who said it?” in a quick game that would instantly tell them if they got it right or wrong.
All you need are three things:
A piece of paper, a pen or pencil, and a Crayola Erasable highlighter.
Simply print our or write out some quotes without attributing the speaker or even just make an entire American Revolution test with fill-in-the-blank options. Then write with the “eraser side” of the highlighter.
It will initially be a little wet, but it dries completely and can’t be seen at all.
Give the paper to your students and have them fill in the answers. I like giving a pen out so they can’t change it.
Then hand them the erasable highlighter, having them reveal the correct answer.
It not only is a fun way to test their memory but is an easy spy activity for them to enjoy as well!
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