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Caesar wheel

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Get busy cutting, pasting, coloring, and counting! Create an awesome Caesar wheel with this printable worksheet.

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Get busy cutting, pasting, coloring, and counting! Create an awesome Caesar wheel with this printable worksheet.

Did you know that there’s an entire science dedicated to keeping secrets? It’s called cryptography. Cryptography is the science of writing and reading secret messages or messages written in codes. The word cryptography actually comes from two Greek words: kryptos meaning “hidden” and graphein meaning “writing.”

Since ancient times, people have had the need to keep some messages secret.  One of the earliest tools for sending and receiving secret messages was the Caesar wheel.

The Caesar wheel was first used by Julius Caesar around 100 B.C. He used the wheel during his military career to send messages to his generals and soldiers.

With this printable worksheet, you and your kids can make your own Caesar wheel and send and receive secret messages.

What you’ll need

To create the Caesar wheel, you will need the following:

  • printable worksheet
  • scissors
  • cardboard
  • glue
  • pens (2 different colors)
  • fastener/pin

What you’ll love about this activity

  • Kids will learn math. Counting is an important part of this activity. Kids need to count correctly to unlock the code.
  • Kids can get creative with this activity. They can make their wheel as colorful and as artistic as they want it to be.
  • Kids will enhance their logic and reasoning skills as they create secret messages and decode messages sent to them using the wheel.

Using the wheel

Using the wheel involves two processes – enciphering and deciphering. Enciphering happens when you write a message using a code. Deciphering happens when you try to understand the message by cracking the code.

The secret to successfully using the wheel is the shift key. The shift key is a number that both the sender and the receiver need to know. For example, a shift key of 3.

To start using the wheel, first, turn the big and small wheels so that the letters in both are aligned.

Next, turn the smaller wheel following the key.

Then, write down the new letters from the small wheel that align with the big wheel after you’ve turned the key. For example, after turning the wheel using a shift key of 3, A will become D, B will become E, and C will become F. When enciphering a message, use these new letters to hide the message. For example, the word CAB will become FED using the new letters.

When the receiver tries to understand the message, he/she will again use the shift key to understand what the new letter combinations stand for.

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