Last Christmas, my seven year old was given a Secret Decoder Game Book and she LOVED it. She hardly put it down over the holidays and had it completed in no time. So, when I spotted that Melissa and Doug have a deluxe edition, I knew I had to stock it!
Thankfully, they gave me a set to review, which has gone down so well this mid-term with both her and her nine year old sister!
The Secret Decoder Deluxe Activity Set comes in a really sturdy box with velcro closing. My daughter calls it her ‘Secret Agent Brief Case’!! It’s easy to open and close, which keeps me happy and everything has a molded spot, which means they don’t move around when it’s being transported.
Once open, in the top half of the case, there are three chunky pens. The white one has invisible ink. Initially, when you write with it, it appears pale but within seconds it disappears. The yellow and blue pens are used to reveal the secret message written with the white pen. The item that looks like a magnifying glass is a ‘seek and find lens’ If you hold it over pages that have secret messages, it reveals what the naked eye cannot see. Finally, in this section, there are two secret decoder wheels. These are needed to decode messages in the books. The reason you get two (they are the same, only different colours) is so your child and their friends can write their own secret messages to each other and provided they have a decoder each, they will be able to read them. How the decoder wheels work is that you look up the symbol, turn the wheel so the red arrow points to the symbol and it will reveal, in a little window, a corresponding letter.
The other half of the case holds three different activity books and two sheets of stickers. Each book is slightly different. The Seek and Find Game Book (pictured below) has lots of puzzles like follow the clues to reveal what the burglar has stolen (you need to use the seek and find lens to go from building to building, revealing his footsteps and eventually his loot bag), puzzles to spot the difference in hidden images, mazes, hidden messages and much more. There are approximately 18 pages in each book.
Here’s another example from this book
The next book is a Secret Message Activity Pad. In this book, you get to practice writing secret invisible messages. However, it’s not just a regular notebook, each page is filled with ideas of what to write and fill in the gaps. It really is very clever and a great way to encourage writing and spelling.
The third book is the Decoder Wheel Game Book. In this book, you need the decoder wheels. Each page has a secret message to work out by looking up the symbol on the wheel and writing down the corresponding letter.
This is a brilliant kit which both I and my girls are happy to recommend. There are hours of fun to be had and it encourages imagination and learning at the same time. It is suitable for all kids – both boys and girls and is an easy toy to share as there are lots of parts to it (although it may be hard convincing children to share as they will want it all for themselves!!)
Melissa and Doug recommend this Secret Decoder Set for children aged 7+ which I think is fair. Once your child is a fluent reader, they will be able to figure out what they are supposed to do on each page, without looking for extra help.
Thanks for taking the time to read this toy review. I really can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with this set, especially if your child loves figuring things out and sitting down to do puzzles. If you’d like to purchase one of these, you can buy it here.