Spy Academy: the last two weeks

Spy Academy: the last two weeks

You can read about the prep work for Spy Academy here and information about our first two weeks here.

As a reminder, Spy Academy is a four week program, running for an hour once a week.  I have it open for ages 6-11 and the biggest thing was that I needed the kids to be able to read.

You can download my powerpoints here– feel free to use the template and change it  however you need to! Powerpoint Week 3 Powerpoint Week 4

This has probably been one of my favorite programs to do and I know the kids enjoyed it a ton too (have already had some ask when they can sign up for next year–ay caramba!)


MATERIALS NEEDED: cut out popular characters, tape

Every good spy needs to make sure their interrogation skills are on point!  We played a well known game for this one (although I’m not sure if it has a name?) and it was a HUGE hit and a ton of fun.  I printed out a bunch of different characters (many book characters but also pop culture ones) and taped one to each kids back.  The kids then had to try and guess their character using only yes/no questions.  We played for about 15 minutes and then the remaining kids we all worked as a group to help them figure out their character.  All in all, a lot of fun, and it got the kids up and moving which is important!


MATERIALS NEEDED: Masking tape, scissors (we used painters tape bc we had a lot of it from a previous program)

Is it weird that I had a bunch of 6-11 year olds pose as dead bodies and tape outline each other? Maybe.  Did they have fun doing it? Definitely.

To make this one go as smoothly as possible I split them up into groups of 3 and within their group they took turns taping and lying down. I was very proud of their awesome teamwork as well :)

Body Outline | Spy Academy

Body Outline | Spy Academy


MATERIALS NEEDED: Tape, glue, scissors, construction paper

A good spy also knows how to blend in or be undercover… disguises were definitely needed!  I printed a bunch of glasses and mustaches printables from online but I think the kids has more fun creating their own (like in the picture below).

Make a Disguise |Spy Academy


MATERIALS NEEDED: Morse code translator, pony beads, string

This one was a little tricky and some of the younger kids just ended up making regular bracelets BUT the kids that understood it thought it was super awesome that they could make a secret message of their name. Basically they needed three colors: one for the dot, one for the dash, and one for a spacer between letters (this was often white or black). They each had a morse code cheat sheet in their TOP SECRET folders from the first week (and I had extras for the kids who were newcomers).  By assigning one color to a symbol they could spell out their name!

sorry for the awkward angle, I took this upside down!
sorry for the awkward angle, I took this upside down!


MATERIALS NEEDED: discarded magazines, paper, glue and scissors

Ransom Note |Spy Academy

Ransom Note | Spy Academy


This was a huge hit and the kids got VERY into it!  I videotaped a couple teens (who were more than willing to help me) in a “crime scene” where one “stole a book”.  We had witnesses and suspects.  The kids had to compare the teen in the crime scene with the suspects we interviewed.  They also went to the crime scene (in the teen zone) and interviewed the teen library assistant who gave them more clues such as a shoeprint that was found in the snow.  It didn’t take long for me to film or edit as it was all very low-tech.


If you do this, make sure you tell your kids at the end that it was all pretend because they all seemed to believe it and were very disappointed in the teen who ended up “stealing” until I told them it was pretend at the end.

I HIGHLY recommend this program to childrens and tween/teen librarians.  If you have any more logistical questions feel free to comment!!

Spy Academy: the first two weeks

Spy Academy: the first two weeks

Alright, so last week I told you guys about the Prep Work for Spy Academy…Today I will tell you what we did in the first two weeks!
Remember, Spy Academy is a four week program, running for an hour once a week.  I have it open for ages 6-11 and the biggest thing was that I needed the kids to be able to read.

I have made powerpoints for each week– They are available for download and are completely editable!  Use my templates but change it around however you need to :) Power Point Week 1  Powerpoint Week 2

At the beginning of week 1 I gave each child a top secret envelope (seen in previous post).  This contains all of the materials they will need for that week.  I had multiple pieces of paper in their folders so I printed on different colors.  We had one piece of paper that had our list of missions for the days and check boxes that they could mark off when MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!


MATERIALS NEEDED: Paper, laminate, magnetic nametag backers, nametag sheet from Spy Handbook


(I know I already shared this but there’s no harm in doing it again)

I had these slips of paper cut up and put into two different dishes.  Each kid picked one of each and combined them to create their code name. Some of my favorites were Stealthy Tuna, Tabasco Ivory, Cockroach Ruby, and Curious Retriever!  We then labeled EVERYTHING with their code name (folders, nametags, etc.)

I mentioned last week that I got nametags from the essential Spy Handbook from Birthday Blueprint.


MATERIALS NEEDED: Stamp pads, children who don’t mind getting messy, Fingerprinting sheet from aforementioned Spy Handbook

So there are like 8 thousand different ways to do fingerprinting on pinterest but I just decided to go with the laziest way and use some stamp pads we already had.  This resulted in very colorful fingerprinting and also a lot of colorful fingers because it didn’t exactly match up.  Would I use stamp pads again? Likely.  Do I recommend you use stamp pads?  Not really.

This was really cool because we were able to look at the differences in our own fingers and with the spies sitting around us.


MATERIALS NEEDED: Scissors, fasteners, awesome brain skillz

It is necessary for every great spy to know codes!  We brushed on Morse code but it was really complicated for a majority of the kids.  Nevertheless, they wrote their names and got to take home a morse code decoder sheet to practice at home.

We also made decoders! The one I printed out and we used wasn’t awesome but I found this one that looks promising. They used a pin and an eraser but fasteners will work just fine.

And that concludes week 1!

For week 2 I had their folders filled with our missions for the second week, as well as a cool little button I made for each of them. These buttons are made with a 1.5″ button maker. Here is an editable google drive file for you to print and make your own!

Spy Academy Buttons | Editable File Available


Our theme this week was all about getting up and moving as well as TEAMWORK! (because, as Stealthy Tuna reminded me, spies often work with partners)


MATERIALS NEEDED: Black balloons, a lot of lung power, and little trinkets/things to put in your “bomb” balloons

detonate bomb

I first pinned this idea from The Porters but it is everywhere when looking for spy academy ideas. So this next part might get confusing so bear with me:
I had 4 different teams.  Each teams mission was to find the 4 different “bombs”.  Which means that there were 24 bombs and the rest were just empty balloons.  They were to find the four different bombs by shaking and seeing if they sounded different.  Each bomb sounded different when shook, which is how they were to find only their bombs and not any other teams.  Inside of the bombs were: glitter, another blown up (red) balloon, a mini compass toy, and a piece of paper with a secret message.  All in all, this was actually pretty successful!  Some teams found duplicates of bombs but that is okay, they still had fun!

And their secret message?  It had their order number for our next activity:


MATERIALS NEEDED: Streamers, tape

Again, this one is everywhere when looking for ideas but I first pinned it from Chicken Babies but was also done by Fat Girl Reading in her spy program.

obstacle course
yes, i realize it isn’t the cleanest obstacle course but it was in our back hallway. normally regular humans aren’t allowed back there.

Their mission was to get across once on their own without tearing the streamers.  This proved to be a little bit too easy.  So, their second mission was to get through holding the hand of one of their teammates!  This was a lot more fun and difficult.


MATERIALS NEEDED: Lemons/lemon juice, paintbrushes, paper

While the teams weren’t doing the obstacle course they were in the other room writing secret codes with invsible ink. I just had lemon juice and paintbrushes set out and they went to town.  When they were done creating invisible ink messages they could make decoded messages from the week before or create their own code and message. I also had this message left behind which isn’t technically in code but it still very adorable.

I am spy acadumey


And that concludes the first two weeks of Spy Academy!  Check back next week after we have our final week!

Spy Academy: the prep work

Spy Academy: the prep work

This past fall when I was doing my winter calendar I reached out to my awesome (seriously, I can’t say this enough) PLN on the twitter-sphere. I can’t figure out where exactly I got the idea originally for a school-age spy program but I immediately loved it and scheduled it for January.

Spy Academy is a four week program, running for an hour once a week.  I have it open for ages 6-11, the biggest thing was that I needed the kids to be able to read. I got A LOT of my stuff from amazing homeschool and blogger parents (spy academy is a big hit for birthday parties and parents love to blog about it) and from pinterest, check out my spy academy board here.

I was originally going to wait and blog about this after the four weeks but we’ve done so much already that I think it’s best split into a couple posts.  This post is about the prep work…be on the look out for posts about week 1 & 2

Initial Set-up


First, for your marketing and the materials you make you’re going to need some awesome fonts! Also, if you download and use my powerpoint’s or anything that isn’t a PDF you will get the full effect if you have these fonts downloaded… Especially the top two. Here are the ones I found and love (I pretty much use dafont.com exclusively when downloading fonts):


Spy Agency • Top Secret • Mad Midnight Marker • DilleniaUPC was already on my computer • Pauls Ransom Note • Top Secret Stamp


Luckily we have a copier that can copy onto manila envelopes (and I only sacrificed 3 envelopes in the process of figuring out how it worked!) so I copied this text onto the front of each envelope:

top seceret
(link to nametags later in the post!)


So in 2011 a little boy had an (I assume) awesome Spy Academy birthday party and his mom decided to share all of the stuff she used for that birthday party. Which is really quite awesome because I really took advantage of what she had to share! I downloaded the Blank Spy Handbook from Birthday Blueprint for the next few things! There are a TON of awesome ideas and resources on that post so check it out!


I laminated the nametags and then purchased some magnetic nametags so the kids feel official*

I also printed the first page of the spy handbook from Birthday Blueprint onto labels and the kids put those on the back of their envelopes…This had their real name and code name on it.  And while we’re on the topic of code names, here’s how we picked them:


I was inspired by the code names in this post by Frugal Family Times but needed more options so I made something similar!



Whoaaaaaa a cliff hanger! To find out what actually goes into the top secret envelopes and what we’ve done in our first two weeks of SPY ACADEMY check back soon…ish.


Every time someone tells me how awesome of an idea this is I get a little embarrassed because literally none of this was original (okay that’s not completely true I am creative sometimes) and couldn’t’ have been done without all you awesome people on the internet like:

» Andrea S. @andizor on twitter and the facebook pictures she shared with me from her library spy program

» Frugal Family Times

» Chicken Babies

» Bryce Don’t Play or @PLSanders on twitter

» The Show Me Librarian

» Birthday Blueprint

*while I know that amazon isn’t the best company in the world, if you buy those nametags using the link I provided I get like probably 4 cents so there’s that*