Riddles date back to the beginnings of recorded history in nearly every culture and religion. Moreover, while its deep literary function has diminished in contemporary time, riddles today still capture the mind and enthusiasm of those who hear them, as the puns and double meanings make for an exciting “answer-quest”. In developing this book of riddles, codes, and ciphers, it was necessary to use the natural hook that “tricks with words” provide for learners, both young and old.
While not necessarily commonplace, the average person can quickly relate to the practice of coding letters to friends, scrambling words for deciphering, playing with puns, and unlocking phrases with multiple meanings. And, in an evolving culture where brain-games continue to pave their way into acceptable pop culture (shout out to Mensa), riddles, codes, and ciphers are a fun entry point for both casual and intentional mental activity.
While answering a riddle correctly is fun on its own, this book attempts to take that practice many steps forward. Not only are the answers to riddles concealed to readers, they are hidden behind codes and ciphers. The beauty in codes and ciphers is in the act of decoding and deciphering, and that process is completely open to creativity. In this book, math becomes the tool for decrypting a majority of riddles, yet there are other items to solve such as vocabulary and distractor pictures.
Each level of this book unveils new vocabulary and each new riddle utilizes a distractor picture. The vocabulary (defined in the glossary) holds the key to comprehension of the complex domain-based information needed for solving the riddle. The picture, which will be related to the words in the riddle, will not reveal the answer. These pictures are a distractor, designed to mask the true meaning by focusing the reader’s attention away from the actual answer. Readers quickly find that this visual clue is like reverse-psychology; eventually telling the reader what the riddle isn’t, thus allowing them to focus on the answer that is.
Of course math plays a very prominent role in this book in the deciphering process. Each riddle in the book has a corresponding key number. That number correlates to an answer key. However, each answer key requires additional work to be done prior to solving the riddle. For instance, the key may involve completing a simple addition problem or a complex division problem, etc. Each answer to the problem will correspond to an alphabet letter that can be used to solve a particular riddle. In total, 200 riddles connect to 20 different key code worksheets with more than 300 progressive mathematical problems.
The riddles and codes in this book are broken into four levels. The first level involves an original set of simple riddles needing very little background knowledge to comprehend. These riddles connect to answer keys that require very simple mathematics. As the levels increase, the riddles require more knowledge and vocabulary for comprehension, and the answer keys demand increased mathematical complexity. The final two levels (Level III, and IV) in the book utilize an original set of Quirk Codes, Caesar Shifts, an original Slider Code, and an original Shift-Up Code. While some of these codes and ciphers require no mathematics, answers require recall, number sense, and spatial sense for conversion. These codes and ciphers can quickly become fun and handy tools for those wishing to delve into the art of cryptology.
For the riddle-making enthusiast, there are multiple blank riddle and code-making worksheets included. These allow creative minds to make their own original riddles, codes, or ciphers based on the Western English alphabet. All blank worksheets can be reproduced with unlimited permission of the author. Each riddle worksheet is formatted to help guide the author and focus the structure. The riddle worksheet also contains a section for name, date, key #, and distractor picture so that they can be used in the classroom. The code making worksheets are set up in similar fashion, and include a blank matrix aligned to the alphabet so that authors can create within a set structure.
While it may prove difficult to ascertain a direct relationship between this book and increases in reading or mathematics aptitude, there can be no doubt that this process engages readers in a progressive method of academically structured reading and mathematics practice. With the average US print material (book, magazine, newspaper, web article, etc.) written between a third and fifth grade reading level, the riddles found here are designed to align with the conceptual reading ability of the average 7 – 12 year old (approximately 2nd – 6th Grade). This book was similarly designed for alignment to academic standards for ages 7-12, and all Common Core State Standard Alignments for these grade levels are included at the end of the book.
Best of luck to all!