Five minute fun activities for busy people to do with little kids

Games + Activities

The Code Breaker

It’s got a cool name this game. Because it is a bloody COOL GAME! Ha! Ewan (4) loved this one. Five minute set up, yes, but we played for a good half an hour, probably longer. A massive hit and he practiced number writing without even realising that’s what he was doing.

So what do we need? Well it’s quite a lot of bits and bob this one but hopefully as ever, it is all stuff you have at home already.

  1. a little basket or box
  2. a small toy your child likes (plus a treat if you like – we used a chocolate penny)
  3. playdoh or blue tac
  4. 3 keys (we have a box of old keys)
  5. pencil and paper
  6. a dice

This game seems a little tricky but I designed it that way. Ewan is older now, and enjoyed the complexity and little routine this game bought. Still easy for us parents though…

To set up…

  1. Put the toy and treat under the basket/box where you want to play
  2. Make three balls out of the playdoh or blue tac and press the keys into them to make an impression for each one.
  3. Put the 3 playdoh impressions on top of the basket/box.
  4. On three bits of paper, draw around one of the keys at the top and draw three boxes below.
  5. Now hide the keys around the room and follow The Golden Rule.

To play…

  1. Tell your child their toy (in our case Dennis the Dinosaur) has been trapped inside a cage. We need to set him free!!! In order to do this we need to find the keys.
  2. Once they have found a key, explain that in order to put the key in to unlock Dennis we have to roll three numbers on the dice and write them on the right bit of paper.
  3. Let your child find the correct bit of paper for the key, then roll the dice, recognise the number and write it in a box. Once they’ve written down three numbers they can put the key in its playdoh impression.
  4. Repeat with all three keys. Find key, roll dice, write numbers.
  5. Once they’ve completed the third key the toy is released! They will have written out nine numbers and hopefully laughed their little socks off like my wee man did.

We played this three times as Ewan enjoyed it so much (no further chocolate pennies were needed). The third time he hid the keys for me. I played exactly the same. Just because he wasn’t writing the numbers didn’t mean he didn’t get anything out of it. He could see me do the correct forming of the numbers when I wrote them and modelling good communication. Play isn’t always about them completing the task!

To vary this for different ages…

Obviously you can totally skip the dice bit for little ones and just do a key hunt to release the toy.

You could write the numbers 1-6 on the page instead and your little one could just cross it off or put a circle around it when that number is rolled. Number recognition rather than writing if that seems like a challenge too far (it would have been for Ewan a few months ago). Or they just need to roll a certain number once to release the key.

For older ones, write out three sums for each key. Once they roll the answer, the key can be released. e.g. write 3+2= on the page so they would need to roll a 5 but would have to work this bit out themselves.

Can you crack the code?! Happy playing!

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