Learning Semaphore

When Tower Bridge is about to open, the Bridge Driver communicates with the ship to check that they’re ready to pass through. To do that we now use radio but, back when Tower Bridge was first opened, radio wasn’t invented so they had to use semaphore.

Semaphore is a way of sending messages to people who you can see but are too far away to talk to. Using your arms (or flags), you can spell out words - each position means a different letter.


Can you and your family have a go at sending messages to each other by semaphore using the semaphore alphabet? Start with this challenge sheet for practice then see what else you can say.

You don’t need flags to send semaphore messages, you can just use your arms. However, you could have a go at making your own semaphore flags using some paper, a stick (a wooden spoon works too!) and some glue or tape.

Equipment needed

Nothing! But you might find it easier if you can print off the downloadable sheets below.

Minimum number of people:



Semaphore alphabet

This sheet shows you the different signals for each letter of the alphabet.

Download PDF

Challenge sheet

This sheet gives you your first semaphore signal challenge!

Download PDF