Classroom escape rooms are perfect for practicing skills and reviewing topics. You can create them for just about any topic in your curriculum. Escape rooms are engaging, fun and help students develop team work and collaboration skills. Check out my blog post on how to make an escape room for the classroom for a detailed guide to getting started.
Once you have identified your learning objectives and chosen your theme, how do you organise the clues for the activity? This is a great question as escape rooms an be structured in many different ways. The following ideas are based on organizing your class into teams of around 4-5 students. Use envelopes to hide the clues in and I suggest preparing full set of clues for each team that they are able to collect, clearly labelled with the team name or with color. So if you have 4 teams, you would prepare 4 sets of clues. I also like to stagger the groups so they are all working on a different starting clue, so they are not all attempting to search for the next clue in the same place! Here are my top 5 ideas for organising your escape room clues!
1. Classroom Scavenger Hunt Clues
Structure your escape room like a classroom scavenger hunt as students work their way through the activity collecting clues. Each clue leads to the next until they reach the final goal. This means that clues are hidden in various locations around the classroom or playground. For this set up, make each puzzle answer a particular location. For example, ‘bookcase’, ‘sink’ or ‘bench’. The next clue is hidden at that particular location. Add another layer to the escape room by using codes for students to convert their answer to the curriculum puzzle into the location. For example, students must turn the answer into a word spelling out a location using some sort of code where the answers are converted into letters or words. A classroom scavenger hunt is great fun and it gets students up and moving about, and makes for a really memorable activity!
2. Use Posters
This is very similar to the classroom scavenger hunt set-up, but you give students the locations on posters displayed around your classroom. This method gives students some guidance on what the possible answers might be, so it provides more structure and support than a free-reign classroom scavenger hunt. It also really helps bring your theme to life! For example, if your theme was to escape the desert island, your posters could be things found on a desert island such as ‘palm tree’, ‘cave’ or ‘rock pool’. Make sure you throw some red-herrings in as well!
3. Have Clue Holder
In this set-up either the teacher or 2-3 pre-prepped students act as the ‘Clue Holders’. They hold the answers and have the clues ready to hand out to the teams. Once a team is ready with their answer, they give it to the Clue Holder. If they are correct, the Clue Holder gives them the next clue. If not, they must continue to work out the correct answer. It is great to give responsibility to your student ‘Clue Holders’ but make sure you rotate the Clue Holders when you next do an escape room activity, so the same students do not always miss out on the escape room puzzles each time.
4. Lock and Key
Hide your clues in boxes locked with padlocks or combination locks. If using combination locks, set your answers to be the code. Once a team is ready with their answers, they enter the code into the combination lock and retrieve their team’s next clue. They must lock the box again straight after retrieving their clue, ready for the other teams. If using padlocks, label potential keys with the answers (and maybe throw in some read herrings too!). Students choose the correct key and unlock the padlock on the box. Again, they must lock it straight away after retrieving their clue, ready for the next team. To prevent teams from trying out every key in one go, think about giving a small time penalty to wait until they get to try another key, to make sure they are finding the answer through solving the puzzle! If setting your escape room up in this way, it is important that each team starts on a different clue to prevent every team from trying to open the same box at the same time!
5. Try out Google Forms
This is easiest and lowest prep-time option! Set your escape room up on Google Forms. Students must enter the correct answer to a puzzle to progress to the next clue. Google Forms are self checking, so this requires no teacher intervention and gives students instant feedback. Check out my step by step guide on how to make an escape room using Google Forms. You could also set this as homework, as it can be played remotely.
If you’re thinking of giving classroom escape rooms a try, I hope you find these ideas useful! What are your favorite ways to structure your classroom escape rooms? Let me know in the comments.
For ready made escape room, covering a whole range of 2nd Grade Math objectives, check out my Math Escape Rooms below. They can be set up in any of the ways above, and include no-prep Google Forms versions! Click on the images to check them out!
You can also grab this FREE 2-Digital Addition and Subtraction Google Forms Castle Escape Room when you join my email list! It is no prep and self-checking, so a total time saver for you and great fun for your students. Give it a go!