The classroom is a great place to implement new and fun methods for enhancing kids’ creativity, encouraging their logical thinking, and developing their team spirit.
Being a cool teacher nowadays means having the ability to find a balance between creativity, fun, and education. But I’m not necessarily talking about formal education. There are so many things our kids should learn outside the curriculum program, which are equally important for their growth.
The escape room games offer unconventional opportunities for kids to learn how to complement each other in the pursuit of the same goal. In other words, team building is one of the things that kids learn during these games. But that’s not all, in just one hour of activity they get a concentrated experience of mental gymnastics, logical thinking, adrenaline rush, and feeling they are doing something important.
They get a chance to enter their fantasies while being in the class and learning life-improving skills. Isn’t that a perfect activity?
With all that said, let me give you some tips on how to make an escape room classroom activity.
1. Grab a ready-to-play escape room kit
Trust me, these games are the real deal. All you need to do is download and print the game file and In a matter of minutes, you have a ready-to-play escape room for your class. I know, it sounds great!
With these games, you don’t have to waste a lot of time thinking about themes, storylines, and puzzles. Also, your DIY escape room cannot compare with the artistic experience these printable escape rooms offer. Check for example the Houdini’s secret room, designed for 9-13 year-olds. It looks awesome, the puzzles are just right for that age group because it’s tested with thousands of kids and teachers.
Usually, within the game kits, you get extra materials, which help a lot when setting up the game. But I’ll talk about them later on.
If you still decide to make your own escape room experience from scratch, then you can check these tips for puzzle ideas and escape room themes ideas. As I said before, It can be time-consuming but at the same time a lot of fun.
Our ready-to-play game kits
Professor Swen’s Lab
Houdini’s Secret Room
Wooka Booka Island
The Gilded Carcanet
2. Set up the game
Usually, these ready-to-play kits take no more than 15 minutes of preparation before the kids arrive. It’s one more reason why it’s a better (and probably way cheaper) option for you as a game master. If you plan to create a room from scratch, have in mind that the setup time will expand to hours of preparations, which means that you have to stay late in order to prepare the class for the next day. In this rush, you always increase the chances of setting up something wrong, which will probably destroy the game flow. That’s one more reason why you should grab a ready-to-play escape room.
For example in Houdini’s secret room kit, except for the game file, you get an easy-to-follow set-up guide, solutions guide, extras (in a form of posters and invitations), and a mobile app to guide you through your adventure.
You probably wonder if there is enough space for the whole classroom to play it simultaneously. Of course, there is! You need as much space as every other classroom activity. Since there will probably be more teams, each group should have a personal corner (table) where all the brainstorming would take place. Don’t forget to grab some scissors, pen, and paper glue for each team, they are usually part of every printable escape game.
3. Decorating the classroom
The decorations add up a lot to the whole experience. We recommend you turn on your creativity and take your time to decorate the room. Kids will love to see their everyday classroom turned into a fantastic escape room with all those decorations around. Trust me, your rating will rise by at least 10 points, as soon as the kids enter the classroom.
Start with some of the posters that usually are included in the ready-to-play kits. Hang them around to make a great mood. Let’s say you are playing Houdini’s secret room. Grab some “crystal” balls, hats, sticks, black tablecloths etc., and place them around the desks.
Turn down the lights and place some candles around. This can be very effective, especially if they are going to play it in a darker room.
4. Play a Role
Passive game mastery is old and boring, so why not join the kids and dive into the adventure? Yes, that’s right you can be a Game master and a player at the same time, which is totally cool!
Think of some role that suits your escape room theme (eg. be Watson in a Sherlock escape room, or be the Splinter in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… you get the point). You can use your role to give the players some hints during the game or help them with some clues which will come only through your character. You can even be the bad guy that needs to be outsmarted in order for them to escape.
For example in the Wooka Booka Island (for 5-8 year-olds) the game master is playing the role of Lau Kamau – the giant guardian. Our game designers found a great way to fit the game master into the game, which offers a better experience and more fun for everyone.
By following the cheat sheet you stay on the right track during the whole game, monitor the kids’ progress, and help them if necessary. You are going to be directly involved throughout the game, as you read the intros for every challenge, explain the game rules, and play games with the kids.
There is no better way to cement your legacy as the coolest teacher in the school!
5. Divide the kids into smaller groups (maximum of 5 players).
One more advantage of the printable and ready-to-play escape rooms is that you can print as many copies as you want and proportionate to that create as many teams as you wish.
So no matter how big (or small) your class is, these games are just suitable for everyone.
The best way to organize your classroom is to divide all kids into groups of a maximum of 5 players and print one copy for each team. This way the teams will simultaneously compete against each other, for who will be the first to escape.
In case you have a small group of kids (maximum 5 players), only one group will fight to escape the room, or whatever the goal is. The team spirit will not disappear by any means, because they will have to fight against the clock together.
6. Explain the game to the kids
It’s very likely that most of the kids have no previous experience with escape room games. That’s why it’s important for you to explain to them what really is an escape room and what they should expect from the game. Don’t give them spoilers about the game, just give them an idea of the game concept.
Usually, there aren’t many rules in the escape room games, but it’s good for the kids to know that they can ask for a hint and that the time for escaping is limited.
Maybe to a big extent the beauty of escape rooms is exactly the absence of rules, in a situation where only your mind and the team effort can help you succeed.
7. Before the game
The Escape Room game is more than just solving puzzles or challenges. Actually, the experience very much depends on the smallest details. So in order to increase the player’s immersion in the story, try spicing your lines with a dramatic voice or, even better, use some of your acting skills. Now is your chance to show off in front of the kids and establish your status as the coolest teacher J Well, it’s all about the fun, isn’t it?
8. Give them a reward
This is a great opportunity to reward those kids who show the most determination, teamwork abilities, and a will to succeed. What you can do is create a special reward such as a diploma for the best puzzle solvers, а commendation, or anything else you want to prize them with.
Next, to motivate them even more, place the reward into a box and lock it with a real padlock. Just remember that the solution for the last challenge should be a 3 or 4-digit combination and the padlock should be set accordingly to that combination.
This way only the first team that opens the box will get the reward, while other teams can still proceed with solving the game on their printable materials.
9. After the game
You should get the players involved even after they finish the game by making a short debrief. At this point the kids are having a blast, they feel smart and accomplished and they want to talk about the game. Go through the puzzles, ask them which character they liked the most, what they found the most interesting, which was the hardest challenge, etc. Sharing these impressions brings the game full circle, making the experience more complete and fun. Better yet, make a themed photo with all the posters usually included in the game kits and post it on your social media profiles.