Secret Agent -9yr- Secret Agent Kit
Kenneth in Singapore
When Kenneth turned 9, we had a Secret Agent Party.
We printed invitations with the picture of a man with a magnifying glass tracking footprints. It read, "They have finally realized that kids make the best secret agents because you don't really notice kids but kids notice everything."
When the children arrived, they were told that they were going to be tested in 6 skills. We divided the children into 3 teams. I gave each team a Secret Agent Kit. The kit had a magnifying glass, paper, pens, scissors, cellophane tape, a penknife and a FunFax Spy Tactics booklet I bought at the bookstore. The booklet had information on secret codes, invisible ink, spy craft, spy talk etc. The first skill was "Observation Skills". We gave the children 10 minutes to look at their own group and think about describing them.
The party was held in the Function Room of the Clubhouse of the condominium where we stay. The upper portion of the door to the room has a glass panel. We put cardboard over the glass leaving a slit at eye level. Two members of each team remained in the room and the rest were taken outside. A helper had them put their eyes to the slit one at a time. The two members in the room had to look at each pair of eyes and identify their own group members. Team 1 got most wrong and Team 3 identified all 3 members! Skills 2 & 3 were Art of Disguise and Shadowing a Suspect which were held together.
The children were given 15 minutes to put on their disguises (which they were told to bring) I got hats from the $1 store for all the members in Kenneth's team so they looked the same from a distance. We also got fake moustaches and eyebrows from Oriental Trading. Two brothers in another team swopped clothes to mislead the others. Then 3 members in each team was given a Route(different ones) that took them away from the Function Room, through some part of the grounds(there are 10 blocks of condos, two swimming pools and tennis courts so a fair sized area for the Routes) and back to the Function Room by a different route. At a meeting point, (eg. Vending machine near the swimming pool) they were to wait 10 minutes to see if their Contact(a member from another team) showed up.
Then, they had a code like, "I like to swim at 7 in the morning" If the Contact gave the correct response of "I like to swim where there are no sharks", then they were to pass on a message. Each child also had a pick up point where they retrieved a hidden message (under a stone etc). This message was in code and used in Skill 4 Deciphering Secret Codes. Most of the children did not wait the full 10 minutes so missed meeting their Contacts. Everyone picked up their hidden messages successfully. Team Member No 4 was given the name of a member in another team that they had to shadow. Team Member No 5 was the Decoy.
When they got back to the Function Room, they had to decipher the 3 messages they picked up. I chose as the first code a Cipher where the birthday boy's name was used followed by the rest of the alphabet. This means that A equals K (as in Kenneth) and B equals E. For the second code, I chose symbols. For the 3rd code, I used a Scytale. This involves writing out the message on a long strip of paper which is only 1 letter wide. When you wind this long strip of paper round a tube (I gave them the tube from kitchen paper towels), you can read the message. Skill No 5 was Sharp Shooting. I got toy guns and targets. Each team member had 5 shots. Skill No 6 was Looking for Clues. Each team had 20 minutes in the Living Room of our Condo.
The first decoded message read, "Get imprint of key" They were given a slab of plasticine to make an imprint of a key which they would find in the room. The second decoded message read, "Message in hem" There was a Coat Stand in the room with a few coats and jackets but the message was actually hidden in the hem of the curtains. The last message read, "Letter from King Kong" On the top of the TV, I left an envelope with the sender "Kingston Ong" (King Kong) They were supposed to boil the kettle to steam the envelope open, copy the contents and reseal the envelope. The contents were a series of numbers. The first row of numbers was the date of a newspaper (common mode of communication from King Kong) The subsequent rows identified the page, column number, paragraph number and word number. The message read, "Which team won? Find out the score now!"
For the birthday cake, Kenneth wanted an ice cream cake. I made the shape of a revolver from vanilla ice cream and covered it with Choc Whizz, the chocolate coating that sets into a hard shell. I made the trigger out of cardboard covered in aluminium foil. I decorated the barrel with Choc Mints to get a striped effect. I also made a magnifying glass. The rim was cardboard covered in aluminium foil with vanilla ice cream inside. The handle was a Cravio Chocolate ice cream roll. On the magnifying glass, I put a print of Kenneth's fingerprints covered in plastic. You couldn't see the plastic and it looked great!
The favourite activity was Shadowing a Suspect and the Art of Disguise. They were thrilled to be meeting Contacts and picking up secret messages. A close second was the Deciphering of Secret Codes and the subsequent Looking for Clues. Some of the children couldn't manage the codes despite the help from the Secret Agent Kit so I gave them more help. Setting the 9 different Routes was a lot of work and I had to check and double check that every child would meet a Contact and have a Secret Message to pick up. Everyone had a lot of fun, including me!
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