It started with the great Pyramids. Then it continued with pharaohs, mummies and most recently hieroglyphics. When my student discovered his newest interest, I discovered another way to make our sessions fun and improve his literacy skills at the same time.

One of the books on Egypt included hieroglyphic puzzles in which we matched the symbols to the letters of the alphabet that they represented. Once all the symbols had been matched to letters, we were left with a message or riddle that related to the story. He was eager to try the next one and the next one after that. When all the puzzles in the book had been solved, I scrambled to find similar puzzles that would continue to engage him and encourage his thinking skills.

Even code puzzles, without words or letters, can help benefit boys’ literacy skills.

They’re Fun!

The code puzzles have a hint of mystery that will help make boys eager to solve them. It’s exciting to discover the solution to the puzzle, especially when it answers a question or riddle. Boys can also create their own code using symbols and have fun writing messages with their new secret language.

Boost Confidence

The short task of solving puzzles is an instant boost to boys’ self-esteem. With that feeling of achievement they will be more willing to embrace even more challenges. For my student, who struggles with reading, solving the codes give him a successful experience that helps ease his frustration.

Develops Critical Thinking

The problem-solving nature of these puzzles will appeal to boys and help them develop critical thinking skills. As they decode the symbols, they are making connections between them and the language they represent. Eventually boys will use their observations to predict the more common letters and words within the codes – like “a”, “the” and “from”.

Self-motivated Learning

Boys are more likely to embrace educational tasks independently when the tasks are fun and enjoyable. I let my student pick one of the puzzles to take home with him. Without needing my encouragement, he brought it back the next day to show me he had decoded the puzzle on his own. He was proud the achievement was entirely his own.

Puzzles are a great way to make learning fun for boys. Create your own puzzles, codes and secret messages or find resources online, like these:

Cryptogram Puzzle Maker

http://puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com/cryptogramSetupForm.asp

Secret Message Creator

http://www.thunk.com

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