Cryptography Project: 6th Grade Equations

I had a lot of fun designing this activity! It was also a lot of work, so I’m hoping other teachers find it useful too.

The gist: Students use their algebra skills to solve one-step equations and decode a message from aliens. It’s a lot of fun and a great activity for the end of the year. I’ve found it’s best to pair kids up for this.

The launch: I present this very seriously. When they try to insist it’s not real, I deny it…until the end of class. Fun for me!

Students practice:

-solving one-step equations using inverse operations and number sense
-translating written descriptions into algebraic equations
-general problem solving skills

All of the materials you need:

Here is the encrypted message from aliens.

Here are two sets of the equations: Set A uses friendlier numbers that students can *mostly* solve using number sense. Set B requires the use of inverse operations. Just choose the set that is best for your class.

Here is a key students can use to help them keep track of what letter each symbol represents.

To get everything in one place and see the answer key, click here.

I hope it’s fun. Suggestions welcome.


If you like this project, here is another 6th grade project for statistics.

Always happy to hear from readers!