Challenging Students with Escape Room Activities
One of the new crazes around is an Escape Room. For those unfamiliar, it is a room that you're "locked" inside and must solve clues in order to escape.
Usually, the rooms have a theme and the clues are related to this theme. They're quite challenging intellectually and quite a bit of fun, but most of the time it's limited to adults.
In preparing to create my own escape room activities, I stumbled across BreakoutEDU. They've made their own kits and games, ready to be purchased and put into action with your class.
The games can be based on any subject. The Innovation Lab likes to find out what your area of study is, then design a game based directly on what your students are studying so it's more relevant.
Escape Rooms can test what they know or challenge them in applying what they've learned. It can even introduce new information to them.
The beauty of the Escape Room is that you have the academic, intellectual challenge, but you can also pit teams against each other or against the clock. Kids love races and this is a surefire way to get them racing each other.
Things to keep in mind when setting up the Escape Room game:
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Just fun?
- New information?
- Test their knowledge?
- How much time do you have?
- What's the reward?
- How many students?
Escape Rooms are best with older kids, as Primary grades don't get into the challenges as much. It's also harder to keep their focus for a prolonged period on one subject.
Try out the Escape Room for a great, team-based, challenging activity.
The only source of knowledge is experience.by Albert Einstein
Ideas for Escape Rooms
- Historic Figures
- Math skills
- Science themes
- Historical events
I've used historical figure or events games and use significant years as clues on the 4 digit lock or famous dates in an addition problem for the 3 digit lock. I'll place clues about vocabulary that they'll need to look up in the well-placed dictionary, only for the kids to find a key taped to the page of their entry.
Once you realize ways to make numerical clues, or use codes to make word clues, you'll learn the tricks of creating games.
I like to create short videos to get the kids worked up and excited about the activity, but whatever you need to do to make it your own.
Setting an Escape Room Up in Your Own Classroom
Or make your own customized to how many groups you need.
- Lock Boxes (to hide clues in) - ~$12
- Hasp (to lock things with multiple locks) - ~$7
- Wordlock (for codes with words) - ~$8
- 4 digit lock (changeable 4 digit code) - ~$6
- 3 digit lock - ~$5
- Blacklight (for secret codes) - ~$3
- Invisible Ink Pen (for secret codes) - ~$2
This can get you started and you'll see what you can expand on from there once you play the game once or twice. I like having at least 3 groups, so I needed 3 of everything. Just start off slowly and build up.
I used laptop bags and locked with the hasps to start off before I got lock boxes. I'm glad I started with the BreakoutEDU kit because it showed me items to add. I haven't used one of their games yet, I've made my own. I tried one of theirs first, but it required things not in the basic kit. Once I made my own, I saw it took just as much time to create my own puzzles as it did to understand puzzles someone else made.
Costs are relative to the size of your groups. For 3 sets, you can purchase 3 BreakoutEDU kits ($375) or build a basic kit for 3 groups (~$130). Once you've purchased your kits, start brainstorming ideas for games.