120 Football-Themed Secret Message Jokes & Riddles

This past week I had my niece Gaby work on making a set of football-themed cryptograms using The Trip Clip website. You can go to my Cryptograms page at The Trip Clip to get the 120 football-themed puzzles along with other individual puzzles and pre-made packets.

Learning From Cryptograms

Secret Message Puzzles (or Cryptograms) are great for teaching problem solving that helps in math, science, and computer programming. And they’re super fun, too! This batch is football themed, but you can make these puzzles on any theme you want. These were also made as beginner puzzles, but The Trip Clip lets you set the difficulty at 6 different levels. Read more about how to learn with these Secret Message Puzzles.

how gaby made these

I’ve written before about how Gaby helps me test my website – sometimes intentionally, and sometimes accidentally. This task turned into accidental testing!

My plan was to have Gaby make 3 collections of secret message puzzles each at a different difficulty level. I gave her written instructions and a set of football jokes and riddles I found on the Scary Mommy website. Her task was to use The Trip Clip’s secret message activity and enter in each joke, at the beginner level first, then medium, and then super hard. After entering each joke she would add it to the Print Queue, and create a 60-page PDF (2 puzzles on each page) for customers to use.

The plan changed, though, after Gaby made the first beginner batch of jokes. When she showed me the finished PDF, she pointed out that some of the jokes she entered resulted in blank puzzles pages, or pages with -3’s all over them. I was glad she noticed these problems and told me about them, since she doesn’t always notice errors like this! After a little research, I discovered that any jokes that had hyphens in them caused errors. There were also some jokes that were too long to fit in the allotted space. I also realized I’d forgotten to tell her to make sure the PDF was Letter size instead of A4 size (for international customers), so she had created the PDF to fit on A4 paper. Even this was helpful, though, since it made me realize that I should get in the habit of publishing these puzzles for both U.S. and international customers!

I fixed all of the problems Gaby uncovered, making the cryptogram puzzle work better for everyone. On Gaby’s next work day I had her make the beginner PDF again, and then check to make sure all of the puzzles were correct this time. Everything worked, and you can see the end result here!

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