/ / / / Christmas Detective Activity – Decoder Wheel Printables

Christmas Detective Activity – Decoder Wheel Printables

Activity Sheet | Christmas Crafts | Decoder Wheel Activities | Free Printables | Kid Crafts

Do your kids love playing detective? Solving mysteries and cracking clues? If so, they’ll love this Christmas secret decoder wheel and the free mystery printables I’ve created! It’s the Case of the Missing Christmas Present!

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White tabletop with mystery printables laying on it along with a red magnifying glass and Christmas decorations.

Hello Crafty Friends! This year we are gifting my son a new set of mystery story books for Christmas and I figured what better way to gift them then to hide them! I made this fun Christmas detective activity for him using my Christmas decoder wheel. It’s the Case of the Missing Gift!

For this mystery, your detective will need to use a Christmas-themed decoder wheel, also called a cipher wheel, to solve the case and find their missing present.

The Coded Message

The printables include a top secret letter letting the child know a present has gone missing and they need to solve a riddle to figure out where it is hidden. Kids will use the decoder wheel to reveal the message which reads “The missing gift is hidden low, tucked away it will not show. Look where there are legs no feet. A place we often like to eat.” Can you guess where the present is hidden? Under the kitchen or dining room table – whatever table you eat at!

Picture of code that is being solved with decoder wheel. "The missing gift is hidden low, Tucked away it will not show. Look where there are legs no feet, a place we often like to eat"

Supplies Needed:

  • Free printable – Grab the free file by filling out the purple form at the end of this post.
  • White cardstock for decoder wheel
  • Scissors
  • Push pin
  • Brad – I like to use mini brads
  • Paper trimmer – handy for cutting out riddles
  • File folder and paper clips (optional)

How to Setup the Activity

The setup for this activity is simple – perfect for the busy holiday season. It is so easy you can set it up the same day as long as you have a brad on hand. 

Step 1: Print the secret decoder wheel, secret code game message. I like to print my decoder wheels on white cardstock so they are easier to handle and turn for little ones. 

Step 2: Assemble the decoder wheel. Cut out each circle of the decoder wheel. Layer them together, with the smaller one top, and using a pushpin, poke a hole through the center of both wheels. Use a brad to hold the two wheels together. They should rotate easily.

Step 3: Hide the gift! Hide the “missing present” under a table where your family eats. 

Decoder wheel circles are cut out.

If you want to get a little fancy, you can create a detective file folder. Use a manilla folder and attach the top secret letter to the folder with paper clips. Put the coded message and the decoder wheel inside the folder. 

Picture of file folding laying on the table. The Case of the Missing Present printable is paper-clipped to it.

Solving the Mystery

The child will need to set their decoder wheel before solving. At the bottom of the top secret message it says, “HINT: S is for STAR”. Set the decoder wheel so the picture of the star is lined up with the letter S. Then solve the message.

For very young ones, the message may be too long for them to solve and hold their interest. It really depends on the child. If the message is too long, you could help them by doing every other word or having them solve just the last line. 

Customize Your Message! 

If you want to try this activity out with your kids, but would prefer to write your own riddle, you can! Use the Christmas Decoder Wheel Set available in my shop. It includes an editable PowerPoint file that you could actually use to write your own coded message for them solve. The PowerPoint was created to be used with my Christmas Decoder Wheel Riddles, but can easily be used for this activity.

The PowerPoint file will allow you to write a new message with a new location for the hidden gift. You can write a new riddle, or if you want to keep this activity a little quicker or easier for little ones, just write the location where the gift is hidden. For example, “Under Your Bed” or “Behind the Couch”. Or make it slightly more cryptic by describing the location without saying the exact place like “Where you like to read”. 

Fun right? I know my son is going to love solving this mystery!

Where to Download the Files

  1. You can also download the free mystery printables by filling out the purple form at the end of this post.
  2. If you’d like to create your own coded message, check out my Christmas Decoder Wheel Riddles in my Etsy shop. This includes 20 joke riddles of kids to do and also an editable PowerPoint file (you need Microsoft PowerPoint to use the editable file) that you can use to write your own encrypted messages!

Detective Books for Kids

I mentioned that this mystery will lead my son to a new mystery book. I thought I would share some of our favorite detective books and mystery puzzles! We are always looking for more series and books so please let me know if you have any favorites not pictured!


Get the Free Christmas Decoder Wheel Mystery!

Fill out the purple form below with your first name and email address! The free file will be sent straight to your inbox! If you have already filled out the form below, don’t worry – you won’t be added to my list twice! This freebie is for personal use only. I hope you enjoy crafting something special. Please let me know if you have any questions :)

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