How to Write a Secret Message Using the PigPen Cipher

Jill Holtz

August 3, 2019

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Kids love secret messages and secret codes! One of the easiest ciphers to start with is the secret code called the Pig Pen Code or Pigpen Cipher. So here’s how to write a secret message using Pig Pen:

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If your child is into secret codes or if they’ve never tried one then the Pig Pen cipher is a fun one to try.

Here’s How To Make a Secret Code Using Pig Pen

All you need to make your master code sheet is a piece of paper and a pen.

  1. Draw two grids of 3×3 = 9 squares and two sets of diagonals crossed over.
  2. In the first 9 box grid you put the letters A to I
  3. In the second 9 box grid you put the letters J to R, and in the inner corner or middle of the inner line of each box you put a dot.
  4. In the first diagonal grid you put the letters S, T, U and V
  5. In the second diagonal grid you put the letters W, X, Y and Z. You put a dot in the four corners of the grid spaces.
  6. Your master code sheet should look like this:

Pigpen cipher

Now have a go at writing some secret code! For each letter of your word you draw out the shape of the box it sits in. So for example, H would be Π, V would be > and so on.

Can you decipher this Pig Pen message?

example of pigpen message

Scroll down to the end to find the answer!

Variations of Pig Pen

You can do variations on the cipher as well. Instead of grid, grid, X, X, you could try grid, X, grid, X.

Or another is grid, grid, grid, with each cell having a letter of the alphabet and the last one having an “&” character. In this variation letters from the first grid have no dot, the second each have one dot and the third grid have two dots.

Another system has a single grid of nine cells with 1 to 3 dots in each box. So ABC would be in the top left pen, followed by DEF and GHI on the first line, then groups of JKL MNO PQR on the second, and STU VWX YZ on the third line. The location of the dot in each symbol (left, center, or right) is used to indicate which letter in that box is represented.

Watch our video for a demonstration of a version with a grid and an x, with double letters in each box:

You May Also Enjoy How To Make a Time Capsule and How To Make a Marble Run

example of pigpen message answer

Over to you now. Have you tried the Pigpen cipher out? Did you decipher our secret message?! Tell us in the comments below!

How To Write a Secret Message Using The PigPen Cipher

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