Crack the code – Pirate theme

Welcome to the first in a series of fun PIRATE themed posts. First up is a bit of code cracking. Code cracking is brilliant for helping to develop logical thinking and you can make it as easy or as hard as you want depending on the age of a child. Last year my little boy had to crack a different code to find each birthday present, which he absolutely loved and has asked me to do again this year.

I set up a pirate themed box complete with a message in a bottle. We made the paper look old by staining it with tea and drying in the oven for a few minutes.

pirate code

My 7 year old created a code using dots, lines and squares, then we used the shells to decode the message, one side had the code and the other the letter the code corresponded to. The idea was that the children look for the shells corresponding to the code on the paper and then work out the message.

pirate code



You could further extend this activity by placing the shells in water and asking the children to fish for them.


What code would you make?

Examples of Codes

Replace each letter with  a number corresponding to its place in the alphabet.

Reverse the Alphabet ( Z becomes A, A becomes Z etc )

Move each letter one along ( A becomes B )

Move each letter 2 places along ( A becomes C )

Other ideas

Can you write secret messages using lemon juice or white crayons?

Learn about concentrations with our treasure map activity


pirate code



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