5 Ways to Use Invisible Ink in the Classroom

Surprise your students with invisible ink! Here's 5 ways to motivate your students using invisible ink and UV flashlights in the classroom.When the kids start to get antsy, it’s time to pull out the bells and whistles. AND…by bells and whistles I mean invisible ink, of course! If you are looking for a way to reel your students in, just get yourself an invisible ink pen and some UV flashlights. My students take the bait every time. Here are five ways that I have used invisible ink in my classroom.

1. Self-Checking Task Cards

This is super easy. Just use your invisible ink pen to write answers on the back of any set of task cards. Students can solve each problem and then use a UV flashlight to check their work. The way you manage this will depend on your students and the task. I have a class set of these UV flashlight key chains. If we are rotating to task cards as a whole class activity, I give each student a flashlight. They rotate on cue. I give them time to work and then flip the classroom light switch off and say “check” as a signal to check their answers. They make a star on their paper if the answer is correct. If it is incorrect, they make the correction on their paper. When using self-checking task cards at an independent learning center, I keep the flashlights and have each student show me evidence of their work before handing over the UV light.

Use invisible ink to make any set of task cards self-checking. Students can use UV flashlights to check the answer after they have solved each problem.
Click image to download this FREE set of Order of Operations task cards from Fun in 5th Grade

2. Secret Stars

Do you want to see instant improvement in a specific skill that your students have already mastered, but are not applying to their work? Some skills that come to mind for my own students are: using capital letters, writing in complete sentences, using punctuation, forming proper plurals, etc. Here’s what you do. Just use your invisible ink pen to make a small star on three (or more) of your papers before you distribute them to the students. Let the students know that you have hidden a secret star on a few of the papers. Tell them about the focus skill. When students turn in their work, they may use the UV light to search for a secret star on their paper. If their paper has a secret star, AND they have used the skill correctly, they earn a prize! Keep track of the students who receive secret stars and give all of your students an opportunity to receive a star at some point. The best part about this strategy is that ALL of the students will work hard to apply the skill since the stars are a mystery.

Use an invisible ink pen in your classroom to motivate students

3. Surprise Prize

Some kids just love the thrill of a good surprise. Others would rather not take the risk (and that’s fine). I have two prize jars in my classroom. One has regular visible prizes, but the other is filled with surprise prizes. I print out the prize cards and write a reward on each card, using invisible ink. The students reach into the jar and pull out a surprise prize. Then, I hand them a UV light for the reveal. Below are some examples of what I write in invisible ink. Just be creative and use what works well in your own classroom.

  • Seat Swap
  • Teacher’s Chair
  • Lunch Bunch
  • Show & Tell
  • No Homework
  • Special Pen
  • Free Time
  • Device Day
  • Line Jumper


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Fill a prize jar with invisible ink reward cards that your students can select for a fun surprise.

Fill a prize jar with invisible ink reward cards that your students can select for a fun surprise.

4. Secret Feedback

Do your students need a boost? Maybe they need some words of encouragement. Deliver those words in a special way. Try writing some positive feedback in invisible ink at the top of a test or assignment. Select one set of papers that your students worked hard on and give them each a quick (and secret) happy note. Keep it simple. Here are some examples.

  • I’m proud of you.
  • You make me smile.
  • This work rocks!
  • Super speller.
  • Most improved.
  • Top notch.
  • Very impressive!

5. Surprise Partners

If you have a quick partner activity where random partners will be just fine, give this one a try. Use invisible ink to write words that pair on partner cards. For example, write “salt” on one card and “pepper” on the other. Shuffle the deck and have students each select a card. Once they shine the light to reveal the clue, they must find their secret partner with a match that completes the pair. Here are some pairing ideas.

  • Peanut butter/jelly
  • Baseball/bat
  • Bacon/eggs
  • Spider/web
  • Macaroni/cheese
  • Key/lock
  • Cookies/milk
  • Shoes/socks
  • Mustard/ketchup
  • Rock/paper/scissors (group of 3)


Join the Undercover Classroom email community and receive the invisible ink cards as an instant download!

Partner your students using invisible ink

Partner your students using invisible ink


Other Tips about Invisible Ink and UV Flashlights:

  • You can laminate over the invisible ink and it will still be visible for a few years.
  • Teach your students to use the flashlights carefully. They should never shine UV light in their eyes.
  • Some students are able to find the secret stars without the flashlight. Make a rule that if they find a star, they can only win the prize if they keep it a secret until the end.
  • I prefer to use the keychain flashlights with students because there is not a pen attached. I like to be in charge of the pens.
  • Invisible ink pens dry out like other markers. It’s helpful to have a few extras on hand.

Please note that Amazon affiliate links are used for the invisible ink pens and UV flashlights in this post which means that I will receive compensation if you make a purchase using one of these links. The materials described and linked in this post are the ones I use {and love} in my own classroom.


  1. Catharine
    July 21, 2019 / 6:16 pm

    Great ideas! I loved invisible ink ideas when I was a kid. I help my grandkids with their learning so I’ll definitely t.ry these ones out!

    • undercoverclassroom
      July 23, 2019 / 8:14 am

      Thanks Catharine! That’s great! It’s such a simple tool with a big impact. Glad that you liked the ideas. 🙂

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