Happy Valentine’s Day love-lovers! This year, we made a set of artful cards featuring my own love language – geometric shapes. But hidden in plain sight is a mystery for little visual detectives to solve….can you crack the code??
Using Morse code and simple art-making processes, this super fun project doubles as an experiment in visual languages. An activity for both the card-maker and the recipient, this is truly the valentine’s day greeting that keeps on giving! Whether you download our alphabet kit or use the reference pictures to draw, cut out, or stamp your own, this is guaranteed to delight code-cracking sleuths of all ages.
Making these cards took me right back to one of my favorite reading memories – a picture book by Graeme Base called The Eleventh Hour. The illustrations were absolutely stunning, and among all of the luscious details were hidden clues to help the reader solve the mystery at the center of the story. My sister and I poured over the book for days trying to crack the codes.
Much like that book, these cards present a fun little mystery to be solved beyond looking lovely. And there’s something else hiding in this project too – a fantastic experience in playing with language, communication, and alphabets. Check out our DIY secret message cardboard sailboats to put the nautical flags to use too!
To make your own secret message valentine art you’ll need:
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- A few sheets of construction paper or cardstock in an assortment of colors
- A glue stick or craft glue
- Our printable nautical flag and Morse code alphabet sets
- Office label stickers (like these)
OPTIONAL STAMPING SUPPLIES:
- Paint or a stamp pad
- Recycled items (like bottle caps) potatoes, or scrap cardboard to use as stamps
- Two pencils with erasers for small DIY morse code stamps
Morse Code Valentine Art Instructions:
- Print morse code and nautical flag alphabet references
You can download and print our handy secret message printable pack or google reference pages to use for coding your own secret messages.
- Write out your message in code on scrap paper
Before you start making your art, write out the morse code message you want to send in scrap paper, or cut out the flag letters you’ll need from our nautical flag alphabet set and arrange them in order. For our Valentine’s Day cards, we chose to write “LOVE” and “I LOVE U” in morse code. We wrote out “I LOVE YOU” in nautical flags.
This will allow you to see how you’d like to lay out the message on your card. You can make it BIG as we did for our “LOVE” morse code card, or write a longer message small, as we did with our “I LOVE U” (repeated) for our heart morse code card).
- Make simple arrangements using construction paper or stamps
For our “LOVE” card, we cut 1.5-inch squares from construction paper and made a 4×4 grid on a piece of cardstock. We glued our grid down, then trimmed the excess cardstock.
Instead of using scrap paper, you could also make this with stamps – keep reading to see how we made our own stamps out of recycled household supplies.
Tip: For easy equally-sized squares, you can trace around a wooden play block as we did!
- Add your morse code or nautical flags
You can cut scraps of paper to create the simple shapes for your morse code, stamp them out, use office label stickers, or simply write out your message with a pen, marker, or crayons.
For the nautical flags, you can cut out letters from our alphabet sheets, or draw your own. If you’d like to create small banners as we did, leave a tab of white above your flags when you cut them out. You can fold this tab around a piece of ribbon or yarn and glue to create a 3D flag!
- Add details
Because our art doubles as Valentine’s Day cards we cut out hearts to add to each one, using a glue stick to glue them on. They look SO sweet, but the practical reason for adding these hearts is so your recipient will know which way is up and be able to decode your message.
- Print out or draw you own decoder sheet
Once you’ve finished your card, print out or draw a decoder sheet to fold up and send along with it to help your valentine crack the code!
The geometric style of these cards and alphabets presents a unique opportunity to try this in a variety of mediums. Using the composition of our “LOVE” morse code card, we collected a variety of household supplies and recreated it through stamping.
A wooden block made our grid squares, and we were able to use the glue stick cap and a small plastic candy box to stamp the shapes creating our morse code.
Or, instead of stamping, you could use round color coding stickers and rectangular office labels. Playing with the materials you have around you is half the fun of this coding project!
More Ways to Play with Morse Code
While doing research for this post, I found so many incredibly creative Morse code activities. Here are just a few you can use with this project to add context or build on the lesson…
- Instead of writing your messages out, use flashlights to spell the words. There are quite a few morse code apps like this reader and decoder that can use your phone’s flashlight.
- Try making some Morse code music.
- Set up a Morse code treasure hunt – your little ones can pretend they’re on a secret mission!
- Make a set of Morse code bracelets and swap secret messages with friends.
- Older kids ready for more advanced STEM projects can try building this DIY Morse code transmitter.
- As part of a series highlighting accessible communication, Google has curated a series of free learning games your kids can play on phones or tablets using a free downloadable keyboard language.
OR move beyond Morse code…this fantastic collection of secret codes from Produclivity features 5 cool “secret” languages that are guaranteed to appeal to young curious coders.
*A note about Amazon affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!