Idea No.

14174

Secret Agents (5-7yr) Blue Team Green Team

Award

Date

August 2006

From

Michelle in Vernon CT USA

Runner Up

Spy Party

Secret Agent Theme for 5 and 7 years old  My two sons were turning ages 5 and 7, and their birthdays are a month apart, so this year we decided to do a combined birthday party with a Secret Agent theme.  Thankfully their birthdays are in the summer, and the weather was perfect so we did it outdoors. 

INVITATIONS: I made them on the computer - on the first page it said "for (child's name) eyes only!" I used a watermark in faint gray that spelled TOP SECRET across the entire invitation. All printing was in stencil font. Inside were a few graphics of a person tracking footprints with a mgnifying glass, a "bad guy" running away, a bomb exploding, a magbifying glass with a fingerprint, and a target - like one through a gun scope. The inside read  "Hold this up to a mirror to retrieve your message!" (The rest of the message lettering was backwards) "You have been recruited for the SECRET AGENT TRAINING ACADEMY (SATA) to celebrate Jason's 7th and Matthew's 5th birthday Report to (our house)on Saturday, August 12, 2006  at precisely 13:00 hours (1 PM) to 16:00 hours (4 PM) You need the secret password to be admitted to the academy.

RESPOND TO THE INSTITUTE BY August 6, 2006 at (our phone number) then DESTROY THIS MESSAGE!" Inside each invitation was a coin envelope (tiny brown envelope 2 x 3 inches) with a sticker labeled SECRET PASSWORD. Each of my sons chose a number - 3- 5 digits long - I printed them out on small slips of paper with their favorite colors (i.e. BLUE 16016, GREEN 300) and sealed them in the envelopes. The older children received my older son's password, and the younger children received my younger son's password. The invitations were sent in plain white envelopes with the addresses typed out on address labels with stencil font and a return address sticker listing SATA with our address. Very official looking! 

DECORATIONS: One of my friends and I designed a logo for the SECRET AGENT TRAINING ACADEMY (SATA) and decorated 4 black shirts with the special logo on the front, and the backs were labeled for the Instructor, Assistant and 2 Staff members. A tent was set up with a banner listing the SECRET AGENT TRAINING ACADEMY (SATA). This was where we did the training activities; we had a black tablecloth with gold fingerprints for the children to sit on on the ground. We had another tent for food, gifts and cake; we used blue and green tablecloths annd papergoods, as well as a secret agent tablecloth I found on clearance at a party store with pictures of a secret agent man, fingerprints, etc. Signs around the yard marked the Physical Training STATION and LASER MAZE.  

ACTIVITIES: 
CHECK-IN and FINGERPRINTING STATION: When each child came to the party, they approached either of my sons, who were standing behind TV trays with blue or green tablecloths on them. the child had to give the secret code to the appropriate son; then they were fingerprinted (I typed up index cards with name, address, DOB, eye color, and boxes for each finger of each hand - name and addresses were filled out in advance). 2 adults helped with the fingerprinting.  Once the child was fingerprinted, they received a briefcase with their name on it and their fingerprint cards and were directed to the training tent. (I bought cheap blue plastic file folders, taped them at the edges with either blue painters tape or green duct tape, punched holes at the top and made clothesline handles for them, marked them in blue or green marker "SECRET AGENT KIT".)

Once all the children arrived, we began the party by welcoming them all, acting very serious since they were there for training. I had made up some posters: 

1. What a secret agent does:  look carefully use their minds gather information keep secrets help other agents go on missions to help catch the bad guys! and an the outline of the "training" for the day Secret agents: fingerprint training footprint training decoding secret messages physical training  Also told the kids that they would receive "tools" that secret agents use to help them do their job.  

2. Fingerprint training: I had made a poster using fingerprints and hand prints of myself and my children in ink, in different materials (paint, chocolate sauce, mustard). Each child received a magnifying glass, pen and pad of paper; we talked about how fingerprints are unique to each person, can be whole or partial, can be in different materials, etc. 

3. Footprint training: I made a poster using different shoes we had in the house (rolled ink on the bottoms and presseed them on the posterboard). I had the shoes there so the children could compare the bottoms of the shoes with their prints; we talked about adult vs. children's sizes, different kinds of shoes, sneakers, sandals, high heels, and left and right foot slantings. Each child received a small flashlight.

4. Decoding Secret messages: I made another poster with pictures of an invisible ink pen (clip art), red ink code (in word, red confetti over light blue letters), a SCYTALE (pictures from the web - a decoding tube used to send secret messages). We went through how to use each decoder:

- Each child received an invisible ink pen - bought from Oriental Trading co - 2 part [en - 1 end was the invisble ink writer, and the other was the marker that you used to scribble over the message and read it.

- Each child received a red ink decoder band (I made these using blue and green pool "noodles" - I cut them into 2 inch bands so they could go around a child's wrist - used white cardstock paper cut into strips and folded and stapled exactly like a matchbook. I cut a square hold in the "cover" of the "matchbox" and glued red cellophane on the inside of it, so the kids could lift up the cover, put their red ink clue in it and read the secret message. I made sample word messages for the older children, sample picture messages for the younger kids who couldn't read yet - again in MS word, print out light blue lettering or pictures, then print red confetti background design over it. (This took a lot of time and experimenting to see which color blue and which pictures would work so they wouldn't be seen, but weren't so dark that they could be easily seen, etc.)

- Each child received a scytale (which I finally found out is pronounced sitalee - short i, short a, long e) which I made out of paper towel tubes - wrapped in blue or green construction paper, then laminated with clear contact paper. I had an old roll of light blue computer paper which I cut up into 1 1/2 inch sections - needed to be about 2 feet long. This strip of paper is wrapped around the scytale (I marked off the starting and finish point in pen with a line and an "S"  and "F" to make it easier for the kids to understand). The you write your message on the paper while it is on the tube. Once you take the paper off the tube, the message is gibberish, and can only be read by someone having the same diameter scytale. I had made a sample message for each child which read "WELCOME TO SECRET AGENT TRAINING!" for them to see how it worked; I also included extra blank strips if the children wanted to make their own messages later.   

5. PHYSICAL TRAINING: Once we were done with all the "thinking" training, we went on to another area of the yard to do the physical training. Each child received a water gun with stern instructions not to shoot each other - they were to be used for target practice in the Physical trainng course. Each child received a CD with "Top Secret" information on it (I collected free "trial version" CDs from the mail and various stores, printed out CD labels with secret designs and "top secret" written across it from our CD labeler software but I used regular paper, cut out the label size and glued it to the CDs). Each child had to carry this CD from one end of the obstable course to the other and put it in the drop box at the end marked "SECRET DROP BOX". I had zip lock bags for the children to put their CDs in. The bags were attached by string to clips that the children attached to their pants waist. So they each could carry their CD but still have their hands free.

The obstacle course was: (the children were guided by a red spray painted START line and a red spray painted line on the ground guiding them thru the course) walking over a homemade balance beam a few inches off the ground, hopping through circles on the ground (I spray painted red circles in the grass), through a dangerous ocean (two helpers held up a blue tablecloth and flapped it around like the parachute games while the children ran under it. Two other helpers acted as sharks with grabber-arm toys to try and get the children as they ran underneath). Then they ran around some cones, up the ladder into our playscape and down the slide. At the bottom of the slide I had hung several aluminum pans from the tree for target shooting. I also posted a black silhouette picture of bad guy with a gun (made a poster from enlarged clip art, taped together, laminated, and mounted to a thin board nailed to a tree) for target practice with the water guns. 

Finally the children had to run through a LASER MAZE I created UNDER the little fort of the playscape. I used red duct tape, stretched multiple times across and around the beams of the small sand box area under the fort in the playscape. I folded the tape over on itself so no one would get stuck; it was pretty challenging for the kids to get through it! After the maze, the children had to run up to the box and drop off their CDs. The children LOVED the obstacle course - especially the sharks and the targets of course!  

While the children were going thru the obstacle course in the back yard,  one of my "staff" planted a "bomb" (a soccer ball pinata I spray painted black; used 2 small wire pieces, 1 covered in blue painter's tape, the other in green duct tape, hooked them up to the "bomb" and hooked the other ends of the wire to a cheap kitchen timer I found that looked like an old fashioned clock that ticked and had the bells on top). The helper set the timer for 45 minutes and "planted" it in a bush in the front yard. Once all the children had gone through the obstacle course at least once, my staff member came running to me with a note (written in cut up letters out of a magazine.) It said "You think you are smart? I am smarter. I planted a bomb. Find it before it destroys you. HAHA GUESS WHO 

6. THE MISSION. I gathered the children and read the note, which included two coin envelopes, 1 labeled THE BOMB with green tape on it, the other labeled GUESS WHO with blue tape.  We told the children we had a real mission, and broke the group up into two teams - the blue team (older) children and the green team (younger) children. The green team had to find the bomb, and the blue team had to figure out who guess who was. We gave them insructions that they had to work together as a team, share information, and once each team solved their part, they would get together and compare notes before taking any action.

Two staff members helped the older team (8 children) keep track of and discuss the clues they found, I helped the younger team (4 children). The first clues for each team were in the coin envelopes written in ryhme and in RANSOM font. THE BLUE TEAM's CLUES: Your first clue you will find at the shed in front or behind  The blue team found their next clue behind the shed - cardboard with pieces of green and blue tape, wire, and a footprint in black ink; also more coin envelopes (1 for each child, with blue tape on each) that held scytale messages numbered 1 - 8 (each child received part of the message and they had to put it all together to read it:D  O  Y  O  U  T  H  I  N  K  Y  O  U  A  R  E  G  O  O  D  ?  D  O  Y  O U  T  H  I  N  K  Y  O  U  A  R  E  S  M  A  R  T  ?  L  E  T  S  S  E  E  I F  Y   O  U   C  A   N  F  I  N  D   T  H  E   N  E  X  T  C  L  U  E  N  E  A  R   T  H  E   S  T  A  R  T H  A  H  A  G  U  E  S  S  W  H  O   Once they figured out that the next clue was near the START line of the obstacle course, they found coin envelopes (1 for each child, with blue tape on each) that held red ink messages (again they each only got part of the message; they had to put them all together to read: "Guess Who is near and sees you, Guess Who knows what you do, Guess Who likes the garden, look near there for another clue."   Once the children found the coin envelopes near the garden gate, 8 coin envelopes held invisible ink messages that each had a green fingerprint on them, and read when put together (the message was written on 1 piece of paper and cut into 8 pieces)  "these fingerprints belong to guess who?"  

THE GREEN TEAM'S CLUES: (first clue) For your clue use your band look around near the sand  By the sand box, the children found 4 coin envelopes (with green tape on them) with red ink messages that had the picture of a bird feeder (clip art) on it. By the bird feeder they found 4 coin envelopes that had a red ink picture of a shed (clip art). By the shed they found envelopes with invisible ink message that were jig saw puzzle pieces which read "ding ding look under the" and had a picture of a swing (hand drawn). By the swing they found 4 coin envelopes with scytale messages that read - once they were put together T  I  C  K  T  O  C  K  G  O  E  S T  H  E  C  L  O  C  K  Y  O  U  W I  L  L  F  I  N  D  T  H  E  B  O M  B  N  E  A  R  W  H  E  R  E  Y  O U   H  E  A  R   K  N  O  C  K  K N  O   C  K  The clues led the green team to the front yard to find the bomb; the clues led the blue team to my husband (who likes the garden; his shoe matched the foot print in the first clue; he was a staff member - double agent) AND my friend's husband, who had greeen paint on his fingers (the green fingerprints). The two teams met up by the bomb, where we found an envelope with a picture of the two culprits anda note "So you figured it out and you have learned loads but you'd better defuse the bomb before it EXPLODES!

I then helped each of my sons cut the blue and green wire with wirecutters, so the bomb was no longer a threat. Then I broughT the children to the garage where the SATA secret weapons were - WATER BOMBS (tiny water balloons we made the night before and hid in a bin labeled (SATA SECRET WEAPONS) - the kids grabbed the bombs and ran to the back of the house to "get the bad guys" where the culprits were ready for them with super soakers and water bombs of their own! A huge water fight ensued, and the kids and adults had a blast!  Later the kids broke open the pinata, had cake and ice cream and opened gifts. They each received a Secret Agent Certificate (made on the computer), "This certifies that Agent (child's name)has completed training at the Secret Agent Training Academy. Good luck on your future missions!"   The party lasted about 3 hours, and the kids had a blast! It was a fairly cheap party to do (much of it hand made or found at dollar stores or oriental trading co.). The scytales were challenging, even for the older kids; I think I would skip that next time and use something else. Some of the clues were a little tough, but the kids were very enthusiastic and persistant about solving the crime and I think they learned a little bit in the process!

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