Do you want to learn how to write a secret code? The cipher wheel is perfect for that! The same tool that has intrigued minds from Julius Caesar to Thomas Jefferson is here to be downloaded and printed at home, right at this moment! Keep scrolling to read the step-by-step instructions to write your first coded letter. 

Black and white cipher wheel printables for kids to write their own codes, on top of blue-green and purple sheets with assorted crayons on a dark grey background. printed pdf version from Kids activities blog.
Let’s create a secret code!

Make Your Own Cipher Wheel Printable

You can make your own cipher wheel with this free printable code wheel pdf. Click the gray button below to download and print:

  1. Print the free code wheel pdf.
  2. Cut out both circles leaving the little arrow section next to the A on the smaller cipher circle.
  3. Stack the small circle on the larger circle and add something in the middle that allows it to spin like a brad.

What is the Cipher Wheel?

From the Caesar cipher wheel to the Enigma machine, cryptography (the art of writing or solving codes) has played an important role in shaping history. But beyond that, cipher wheels offer a unique blend of education and entertainment for kids.

By creating their own secret codes, children can develop problem solving skills while having a blast with friends and family members. It’s not just a game: it’s a different way of thinking and a chance to craft their own secret language!

Screenshot of a black and white printable cipher wheel, students and adults. printed pdf version from Kids activities blog.
Download your own cipher wheel.

How to Use Your Cipher Wheel

  1. Start by printing the cipher wheel templates provided in the button below on thick paper or by pasting them onto thin cardboard. Cut out both wheels carefully, ensuring the smaller wheel keeps its black triangle marker.
  2. Using a sharp point, make a small hole in the center of each wheel. Join the wheels together with the smaller one on top of the larger one, using a split pin.

Now for the fun part! 

How to Encrypt a Message and Decrypt

Here’s how to use your new cipher wheel with your friends: 

Encryption Steps:

  1. Turn the smaller wheel so that each letter on it lines up with a different letter on the larger wheel.
  2. This cipher wheel contains only 24 characters. For a “J” put in a “Y”, and for a “Q” put in an “O”. Select the first character from your message and write down the letter on the smaller circle that appears directly beneath it on the larger wheel. 
  3. Rotate the upper wheel until the black triangle points to the character you have just selected. This is called the “Key”, you’ll need both the cipher and the key to be able to decrypt the message.
  4. Now, for each letter of your message, find that character on the outer wheel, and write down the letter that is exactly beneath it on the inner wheel. This will be your encrypted message.
  5. Give your coded message to your friend and let them solve it using the cipher wheel!

Decryption Steps:

  1. Identify Key: Look at the first character of the secret message. This character acts as your key for decryption. Rotate the upper wheel of your cipher until the black triangle points to that character. 
  2. Decrypt Message: For each letter of your message, find that character on the inner wheel and write down the corresponding letter that is exactly above it on the outer wheel. Continue this process until the entire message is decrypted.

Here’s an example:


Decryption Process:

  • Key Character: F
  • Rotate the upper wheel until the triangle points to F.
  • Decrypt each letter:
    • F ? L
    • D ? O
    • K ? V
    • P ? E

The encrypted message is “love”.

And voila, that’s all! Wasn’t that fun and exciting to do?

Black and white printable cipher wheel lying on top of a blue-green sheet with multicolored letters on a light brown background. printed pdf version from Kids activities blog.
Encrypting messages is so much fun!


More fun Secret code printables & brain teasers from Kids Activities Blog

What message did you encrypt using the cipher wheel? Did you have fun decoding the messages your friends wrote?

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