Code Breaking Book Club for Boys
I have to say that I am generally nervous each time I host a kids’ book club, more so than when I host a party. I don’t know but I think that I want so very much for the kids to love reading and for their book club to be their very favorite activity in the whole world! So, the pressure was on. I posted on preparing for the book club so if you are interested in duplicating it, please see that post.
Usually, I organize the book club well in advance, but this one I didn’t because I decided to make a de-coding group scavenger hunt so I needed to hide the loot the day of.
The Unbreakable Code by Sara Hoagland Hunter, illustrated by Julia Miner
Here’s your shopping list if you want to try this book club:
- Copy The Cypher Wheel onto stiffer card stock, one per child a few extra in case of mishaps. I used Staples copy center.
- Brads, one per child. Those are those brass thing-a-ma-bobs that come 100 in a tiny box. I got them at Staples too. Note that you don’t need a hole punch. I bought a single one but it’s too short to actually work.
- Scissors, one pair per child.
- Stuff for prizes that are small and easy to hide. I used candy (Jolly Ranchers and Hershey Kisses, plus small boxes of Jolly Ranchers Chewy as the grand prize — one for each kid).
- Brown paper bags, one per child for them to keep their loot. Please label them.
- Snack for the kids.
- Pens and pads of paper for each child.
- small bowls, spoons, toothpicks: one per child to mix the invisible ink.
- baking soda, bowl of water, tablespoon to measure equal parts water to baking soda.
- light source to hold paper over like a desk lamp.
- Make clues.
- Put in clear baggies with handful of candy if you wish.
- Hide the clues.
- The Cypher Wheel is very confusing. The yellow wheel needs to be set at the arrow to the letter, then it needs to STAY THERE. A= F, for example, all the codes are when the A is set to the F on the marigold colored outer ring. For the first clue, make sure that every kid knows how the decoder works.
- Some kids are faster at decoding which caused my son to have a meltdown mid-book club. Put one child in charge of each clue and make sure you have an even amount of clues to go around. This child is in charge of the decoding. He calls out each letter to be decoded and writes it down. He can also lead the team to the spot to search for the clue.
- If you don’t want the boys sugared up, you can hide the clues and use one small toy per child as the finale. Sadly, I set a precedent that book club = candy.
- For the final activity, the boys mixed the invisible ink solution and each boy went off to hide the prize. He then gave his clue to a boy and made sure the child found the prize. At this point, the moms were here and I chatted with them. The boys were able to do this independently. I let them do any kind of clue they wanted. One boy did pig latin, for example. I think using the decoder too!
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.
6 thoughts on “Update on Boys Book Club: What Worked and Didn’t Work”
yeah, success! & what a great activity – love it!!
Thanks! Phew! I’m so glad the boys had a good time and want more book clubs! Pressure is off!
Wow – sounds like a great success! If I didn’t already have scouts to lead, I’d probably try this.
Thanks so much! It was a lot of fun to watch the boys de-code and hunt for clues with such enthusiasm. My bad on having some codes with errors!
Definite victory! What a GREAT mom you are! Awesome way to get kids excited about reading!!! I am going to bookmark this post for when my son gets older.
Thanks so much! Phew! Glad it went well and it was fun for me too!