- Discussion: What is a code?
They had no idea. I explained that a code is something that takes on object or idea, and replaces it with something different, to write secret messages, or anything that needs to be symbolized.
Make a key that says that a red circle means then number 5. Then, draw a red circle. Ask the kids what the red circle represents. Ask them what other ways they can think of to represent numbers, words, and other symbols.
The kids said that the red circle represents the number 5, but they could think of no other ways of representing or coding numbers or anything else.
Problems: Pretend you were taking a walk, and you slipped and fell into a fairytale. In the fairytale, everything is coded, but you have to get out- a dragon is wandering around the forest, and it is soon going to find you! Here are the puzzles that you encounter:
“We fell into a fairytale! Hahaha! That is so cool… wait… it’s possible?!”
You come up to a fairy, and she gives you a card. She says that the path you should take is: right, left, left, but the card says it differently; left, left, right (with arrows). Then she whispers in your ear, “Everything is coded around here, and to get out, you will have to explain to the king elf how you figured out what this card means.” How are the instructions on the card different from the instructions that the fairy gave you?
First the kids started to say that the directions are all different, but then they realized that the directions were backwards.
Now that you have figured out, the fairy wants to double check that you understand; she gives you a few more similar puzzles to solve before you are allowed to leave:
The kids expressed their opinion; “Ughh… why do fairies have to be so annoying?!” J
Play Simon Says as a break, and then play backwards Simon Says (The kids have to do the opposite thing of what Simon Says tells them to do).
The kids loved the backwards Simon Says! Don’t play the normal Simon Says for long, because, first of all, it doesn’t teach the kids anything new, or make them think, and plus, it is pretty boring. Even the kids agree with that. I think that it is better to play Simon Says, first of all backwards, and, for this specific purpose, without saying Simon Says before all of the instructions; the kids should have to listen to everything the “Simon” says, even if the “Simon” doesn’t say, “Simon Says…”
The message is: red, red, green, blue, but the coded message is: blue, green, red, red. What is the code?
The kids were a bit more concentrated because they had just played Simon Says, but it still took some work to get their attention. Don’t draw this problem on the white-board! Use poker chips or other small colorful objects to do the problem! Let the kids have something to play with in their hands and actually hold while solving the problem! I made a big mistake by just drawing the colors on the board, and the kids stopped paying attention!
Now that the fairy sees that you understand, she tells you that you are free to go. Finally! You are out of the forest! Oops… the dragon is waiting for you in the forest. The dragon gives you some more problems… and he gives you a key; turtles represent the number 1, dragons represent the number 3, princes represent the number 4, princesses represent the number 5, and rabbits represent the number 6.
They loved the story; especially the part about the dragon.
Turtle + Dragon =?
Rabbit - Prince + Dragon =?
Princess + Turtle - Prince =?
This was fun for them to do, but they weren’t paying much attention. Get every child involved! If even one child starts to goof and play around, almost all of the other kids follow them, and start to play around as well! As I mentioned before, the kids should have something to hold in their hands. Use actual toys, stickers, game pieces… anything, to represent the numbers in this problem, and have the kids build the equation from those toys!
Now, signs are also coded! Let’s say that addition signs are cats, subtraction signs are dogs, and equal signs are mice.
Princess, Cat, Turtle, Mouse, Rabbit
Prince, Dog, Dragon, Mouse, ?
Rabbit, Dog, Princess, Mouse, ?
Prince, Cat, ?, Mouse, Princess
Turtle, ?, Dragon, Mouse, Prince
The kids were good at this, but since I could only call one child up to the white-board at a time (I shouldn’t even have used a white-board), half the kids weren’t paying any attention, and they were rolling around on the floor and running around the room. I made another huge mistake of continuing with the lesson even though the kids were still rolling around and not listening (I told them a few times not to, but then I just gave up and kept going with the lesson- very bad idea). There was only one child actually solving the problem while all the others weren’t doing anything, and only playing around- I was literally wasting time, because nobody was listening, and nobody had any idea about what was going on. Also, I think the kids got really tired of repeating similar problems over and over again.
Now the dragon wants you to make up your own problem, with your own key. He wants to see how smart he is, and if can solve your problem.
The kids were not behaving well enough to even calm down and do this… I had to play another game of backwards Simon Says with them, which didn’t exactly make them pay attention more… more like the opposite.
There are 3 envelopes (use actual envelopes). You know there is a magic wand, a key to the dungeon, and an invisibility ring. One envelope says “Magic wand”; another “Key to the dungeon” another “Invisibility ring and magic wand”. We know that each label is misplaced. How can you find out which object is where without opening any of the envelopes (split the kids in pairs, and give each pair a goal- figure out where the invisibility ring is, figure out where the magic wand is, etc. ) Use flash cards that have pictures of a ring, a magic wand, and a key to place into the envelopes.
I didn’t use actual envelopes, I didn’t use flash cards, and I didn’t pair the kids up! It was a complete mess! Only a couple of kids were paying attention; all of the others were still goofing around- I had no idea how to get them to listen…
I was going to introduce "x" into this lesson, but the kids were tired and we didn't have time. Anyway, I think that it is a little too early.