Bricks and Books Club: Spy School

Back with another Bricks and Books Club post! We recently read Spy School by Stuart Gibbs. Kids could read the book or the new graphic novel adaptation (or both)! Most of us who read both said we preferred the book over the graphic novel.

bbc spy school

Book Blurb:

Ben Ripley may only be in middle school, but he’s already pegged his dream job: C.I.A. or bust. Unfortunately for Ben, his awkward personality doesn’t exactly scream “secret agent.” Because of his innate math skills, Ben isn’t surprised when he’s recruited for a magnet school with a focus on science… but he’s entirely shocked to discover that the school is actually a front for a junior C.I.A. academy. Could the C.I.A. really want him?

Actually, no. There’s been a case of mistaken identity…

Icebreaker: Would you rather fight with a book or a tennis racket?

(Ben does both in the book)

Discussion Questions:

  • Recall: What were the fake credentials in Ben’s file? What are Ben’s REAL talents? 
  • Connect: What are you good at? Find someone with a similar skill or talent!
  • Reflect: What do you think is the most important skill for a spy to have? Why?
  • Analyze: Is Ben a good spy? Why or why not?

Our group was evenly divided between those who thought that physical skills (e.g. martial arts) were more important than cognitive skills (e.g. linguistics or “smarts”). My favorite response was the kid who said the most valuable skill for spies was the art of escape! 😆

We used sticky notes to capture some of our responses, and this was such a great way to keep everyone engaged. It can be difficult to facilitate conversations with a big group, so I also like using questions like “Find someone who…” and letting the kids discuss on their own.

I LOVE how the kids have gotten into the habit of attaching our “talking stick” (a special minifigure) to their glasses when it’s their turn to speak. I’m not sure which one of them started doing this, but now we all do!

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Photo: A minifigure spy holding a magnifying glass stands connected to a pair of buildable brick glasses

Building Challenge: Create a LEGO Cipher and Compose a Secret Message!

This activity was so much fun! Big thanks to Frugal Fun for Boys for the inspiration. My only rule was “No mean words or mean messages,” and most of the kids complied.

Here were some of our decoded messages:

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Decoded Message: Stop doing that

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Decoded Message: Anyone up for pizza?

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Decoded Message: I love LEGOs


To read more about getting started with a Bricks and Books Club, read this post.

Please note that LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this content.

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