By Melissa Karsten / May 14, 2021

Escape the classroom! Create your own escape room

Have you ever done an escape room? There are so many opportunities to participate in this kind of experience now. But it doesn’t just have to be a weekend or vacation adventure. Talk about a great option for learning!

Solving a mystery can build confidence and give students practice using those problem-solving skills you’ve been teaching them. Don’t forget the communication and teamwork needed to successfully navigate an escape room. The best part about an escape room is the versatility. The theme can support almost any subject, the game can be played at any grade level, the number of players is up to you, and the game can even be played digitally.

Do I detect some curiosity? Creating your escape classroom might be easier than you think! Let’s look at what planning is needed.

Make it Relatable

Pick your theme or story. Storylines are great fun for kids, but, if you’re limited on time, a simple theme will do the trick.

Start brainstorming. What have your kids been talking about lately? Has the buzz been about a popular movie or video game? Maybe you could introduce them to a classic pop culture reference. What about a holiday that’s coming up soon? Or, what topic have you been emphasizing in your lessons?

Here are some themes to jump-start your creativity:

  • Sensory challenge – One player uses earplugs, another a blindfold, and the last a mask to prevent talking. This unique theme makes communication the focus.
  • Superheroes – They can be unique to your classroom and have superpowers that connect to the lessons you’d like to enhance.
  • Lost in time – Oh, the possibilities. What historical figures or future predictions have your students been learning about?
  • Minecraft – This is a natural for a digital escape game, but the theme can work in the physical world too.
  • A petnapping – There are some unique pets that would make this theme great fun, such as a llama, koala bear, or gecko.

Choose Your Path

Write your challenges. What skills do you want to assess? Quizzes you’ve written make good resources. Do you have puzzles you’ve already created? Matching games, word puzzles, and riddles are all great fun. Usually four or five challenges are plenty. Just remember to vary the types of challenges to keep your students engaged. 

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These challenges can be woven together in theme only, so students can complete all the challenges in any order to move to the final destination. Or, each challenge can build on the previous, moving students in a specific sequence. The latter works well if students are trying to find a physical key, for example.

Mapping out your challenges is useful, whether you sketch your plan on paper or throw the flow together online. Sticky notes could be a lifesaver; here’s an example

Remember to have a coworker or friend test your path to work out any kinks before you initiate the game in class.

Decide How to Win

Pick what signifies the players’ escape. Is there a lockbox that a key fits in with prizes for the first three escapees? Luggage locks have multiple numbers that need to be spun into the correct order, which could incorporate math into your game.

Maybe the lock is imaginary and students have to only open the lid of a box. For that matter, possibly there’s no box at all. What if they hand in the correct code to escape, winning some free time or the opportunity to participate in a different activity? The possibilities are endless.

Take Advantage of the Potential

As I said before, the best part of an escape room game is the versatility and adaptability. You could break it apart to do each challenge during smaller periods over several days.

You’re not even limited by a physical room. All this can be accomplished digitally using online tools such as Google Forms with required answers to move from challenge to challenge. Or, you can try creating a game with Room Escape Maker. Make sure to watch the tutorial.

Don’t forget, there are a lot examples online if you get stuck! Share your hurdles and successes in the comments to help out your fellow educators.

Here are a few other options, tips, and tricks from educators:

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TOPICS: IN THE CLASSROOM, IDEAS & INSPIRATION, Teacher Resources, STEM, Resources, Authentic Learning, Activities, Hands-on Learning, Math, innovate

Melissa Karsten

Written by Melissa Karsten

Anyone that knows me well knows I love to ask questions and get excited about learning. So, it’s been awesome throughout the last 13+ years with Pitsco to have so many opportunities to ask educators questions online and in their classrooms and learn from them. But, I have to say, my favorite part is witnessing the students’ “aha!” moments using the hands-on approach. Being a crafter – I’d love to be on "Flea Market Flip!" – I can relate. Now, if there were just a few more hours in the day for my digital projects, gardening, beekeeping, running, and what I call puppy time!