Encoding and decoding messages

What other interesting examples of codes from history or the modern-day (digital or non-digital) can you find to inspire or support a lesson about encoding and decoding messages?


Scytale was a simple cipher used by the Spartans in Ancient Greece. It was an ancient form of encryption where the letters are re-arranged in the messages prior to being deciphered by the recipient. The method involved writing letters in a certain order on a parchment. This parchment would then get wrapped around a cylinder to display the message. The recipient would use a cylinder the exact same size to read the message.

This method was quite simple and became easily decipherable by the enemy too. See the picture below for an example.

11 Cryptographic Methods That Marked History: From the Caesar Cipher to Enigma Code and Beyond

An adaptation of this method could be used in the classroom to help introduce encoding and decoding in the classroom, particularly with the younger years. A simple activity could involve the use of paper instead of parchment, where students could write their encoded message. Students could use a paper towel roll as the cylinder. This would be a fun and engaging introduction to encryption and decryption.

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