Operation Auntie!

Originally published on Savvy Auntie.

Try out some of these great summer spy games the next time your young nieces and nephews come trooping into your house equipped with toy binoculars, Walkie Talkies, and disguises! It’s time to fire up those curious minds!

Hidden in Plain Sight

This game tests your nieces’ and nephews’ skills of perception and observation. In order to be great spies they’ll need to learn how to take notice and see what remains unseen by others.

For the first phase of the game, have your nieces and nephews enter a room of the house and take note of their surroundings. If they’re beginner spies, you can have them write down their observations in their secret spy notebooks. When they’re ready, take them into a designated waiting area (e.g., the kitchen or a bedroom). Then return to the room, and start making changes to the setting. You can be as subtle or as obvious as necessary, depending on the skill level of your spies – overturn chairs; reorganize books or magazines; open windows and rearrange curtains. The second phase of the game will test your nieces’ and nephews’ ability to point out all the changes. You can tell them how many differences they need to find, or you can leave them to it.

Spy Upgrade – Hide notes or clues at each point-of-change throughout the room for your nieces and nephews to find. Later, these can be used as hints for your next spy game.

Clue 1: Decoding (on a reorganized bookshelf)
Clue 2: A Set Of (between two overturned chairs)
Clue 3: Codes (on a laptop that’s been turned on)
Answer: Decoding a set of codes.

Operation Match

This game is designed specifically to test your nieces’ and nephews’ memory of codes.

Write down some codes on n number of flashcards, and make sure that you make duplicate cards for each code. Arrange the cards face-down on a table in front of your nieces and nephews, and have them play a game of match with the cards.

Spy Upgrade – You can come up with your own system of encryption and have the codes spell out a hint for the next game. Have your nieces and nephews decode the flashcards, using your preferred method.

3=E, $=S, 7=T
Card 1: w3’r3 (We’re)
Card 2: g01ng (going)
Card 3: 70 (to)
Card 4: pl@y (play)
Card 5: n1nj@$33k (Ninja Seek)
Answer: We’re going to play Ninja Seek.

Ninja Seek

This game tests your nieces’ and nephews’ ability to remain unnoticed in order to reach their target. It’s time to give them a lesson in stealth practices!

As in the traditional game of hide-and-seek, have your nieces and nephews decide on a seeker while the rest of them hide. Remember to be clear about game boundaries and safety zones, especially if you decide to extend the game to the front yard or backyard. The twist to this game comes in the form of a target message or object that you will hide somewhere in the house; the target will contain top secret information about your next activity for the afternoon or the kind of snack you plan on serving later in the day. The task is for your nieces and nephews to acquire the target and reach the designated goal or safety zone without getting caught by the ninja seeker. You are allowed to provide a hint of where the target is hidden at the start of the game. The contents of the target will only be disclosed at the end of the game; if the message or object is somehow revealed during the course of the play, it is game over for the ninjas. Of course, if any ninjas are caught by the ninja seeker, they will be out for the rest of the game.

As the game unfolds, you may witness your nieces and nephews forming alliances and staging target interceptions. Once the target is found, the game can really take on a life of its own. But you must be clear about the rules in order to ensure a safe and fair game!

Spy Upgrade – You can play the game with two ninja seekers for added excitement! Position them at different areas in the house for more of a challenge.

Spy Tours

Have you ever wanted to take your nieces and nephews on a trip to see some of the great spy exhibits around the country? Here are a couple suggestions for some interesting spy adventures on the road:

Spy: The Exhibit – The Secret World of Espionage (Discover Times Square, New York)
International Spy Museum (Washington DC)

Photo: Arvind Balaraman





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