Engaging students in the classroom is harder than ever these days. In fact, in a post-pandemic education setting, 50% of students report lower levels of motivation. Not only that, but 87% of teachers perceive students as being less than motivated to learn.
How do you engage students these days, though? Learning how to create an escape room for students is one way!
Escape rooms are a great way to get students excited about learning, can be great for team-building, and can be adapted for any subject. Plus, they’re pretty fun to create as well, which is a win-win for both students and teachers.
Wanna learn how to create an escape room that’s fun, educational, and exciting? Here’s how.
What Is an Escape Room?
Not quite sure what an escape room is? That’s important to understand before we get started. An escape room is a physical adventure game in which players are locked in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and escape within a set time limit.
Players are given a scenario, such as being trapped in a prison cell or stranded on a deserted island and must work together to find clues, solve puzzles, and accomplish tasks that will help them escape.
Escape rooms often incorporate themes from popular cultures, such as movies, TV shows, books, or video games. For example, at The Great Escape Room Minneapolis, one of the escape rooms is modeled after Sherlock Holmes’ study. You see a lot of Pirates of the Caribbean escape rooms these days, too.
While escape rooms can be played by anyone, they are often enjoyed by groups of friends or family members looking for a challenging and fun way to spend an evening together. They can also be a great team-building activity for work groups or other organizations (especially student organizations).
Whether you’re looking to introduce excitement, laughter, or learning into the classroom, an escape room can be a great way to do so. And, you don’t have to pay to go to an escape room with your students. There are simple ways you can set one up right in your own classroom. Keep scrolling to learn how!
Team-Building Benefits of an Escape Room
Why are escape rooms so great for students? They provide a great opportunity to engage in team-building exercises. After all, to escape, everybody has to work together.
In any escape room, regardless of the story and puzzles at hand, players must work together to solve puzzles and escape the room. This requires communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. As players work together to overcome the challenges of the escape room, they will also build trust and teamwork.
As an educator, you likely understand the benefits of having kids learn about teamwork from a really young age. Higher education studies have shown that when kids learn how to be effective team members and team leaders they develop confidence in their own problem-solving abilities. Communication is another big benefit, too.
In addition, the escape room can be a fun and enjoyable experience that will bring the group closer together. The pressure of being “locked in” can help to foster a sense of camaraderie and cooperation among participants.
This makes it a great activity to plan at the start of the school year to help form bonds between students who might not yet know each other well.
Escape Room Guide: What Elements to Include in an Escape Room
Thinking that creating an escape room sounds like a great idea for your classroom? We’re behind you all the way. However, there are some basics that you’ll need to ensure you have before you start creating decorations and clues.
First, you’ll need a good story. Your story should be intriguing and make sense within the context of the puzzles and clues. Typically, if you’re incorporating this into a lesson, you’ll need to ensure that the story relates to the lesson somehow.
For example, if you’re teaching younger children a history lesson, you might want to make the story revolve around one of the historical figures you’re learning about. If you’re learning about Abraham Lincoln, maybe the kids need to help him escape from his office! Include factual clues and information in the story to help enhance the effectiveness of the lesson.
Second, you’ll need to create a series of puzzles and clues that players will need to solve in order to escape the room. These can be anything from simple riddles to complex logic puzzles. Again, when creating an escape room as part of a classroom activity, try to make the clues as tied to the learning objective as possible.
Third, you’ll need to design your escape room in a way that is both challenging and fun. This means finding the right balance of difficulty for your particular group of students. Making it too challenging might lead to frustrated kids.
With these elements in mind, you’re well on your way to creating an unforgettable escape room experience for your students.
How to Create an Escape Room for Students
So you’ve got your basic story in mind and know when you’ll be creating your escape room classroom activity. Now, follow along with our escape room guide so that you can tick off the steps as you fully flesh out the activity.
Choose the Right Location
Logistically, you need to ensure you choose the right location for the escape room. Whether it’s in the library, your classroom, or even the school gym, you need to ensure there is enough space for you to let students explore the area.
When selecting a location for your escape room, be sure to consider the age and abilities of your students. You should also take into account the size of your classroom (in terms of the number of students) and the amount of time you have available.
Additionally, the escape room should be located in an area that is easily accessible, yet private enough to avoid disruptions. The last thing you want is another classroom passing by and disrupting the focus of your students. After all, they should feel like they’re truly “locked in” somewhere and need to work together to escape.
Decide on a Theme
The theme sets the tone for the entire experience and can help to create a more immersive and engaging game. It can also be used to tie the escape room into lesson plans or curricula.
For example, a history escape room could be used to teach about specific historical events, or a science-themed escape room could be used to reinforce concepts learned in class.
When choosing a theme, it’s important to consider the age group of the students and the overall difficulty of the escape room. All in all, a good theme can make all the difference in creating a successful and enjoyable escape room experience.
Create Engaging Puzzles
There are a few things to keep in mind when creating engaging puzzles for a classroom escape room. First, the puzzles should be based on the content that is being taught in class. This will help to ensure that the students are engaged and learning while they are solving the puzzles.
Second, the puzzles should be challenging but not impossible to solve. They should be designed to test the students’ problem-solving skills and encourage teamwork.
Finally, the puzzles should be fun! This will help to keep the students motivated and engaged throughout the escape room experience. By keeping these things in mind, you can create an escape room that is both educational and enjoyable for your students.
Don’t Make It Too Challenging
We’ve briefly gone over this a bit above, but it’s important to mention it again. Where we’ve seen other educators fail is in making an escape room too challenging for students. Remember, it’s for them to solve, not for you or your other coworkers to solve!
The goal of an escape room is to create a sense of team-building and camaraderie, not to frustrate students or cause them to give up. If the puzzles are too difficult, students will become quickly discouraged and may not want to participate in future classroom escape rooms.
It’s important to strike a balance between making the escape room challenging enough to be enjoyable but not so difficult that students become frustrated. By finding this balance, you can ensure that your students have a positive experience with escape rooms and are more likely to participate in future classroom activities.
Make Sure the Experience Is Immersive
The more you’re able to immerse the children in the theme and story the better! This not only allows them to activate their imagination but it allows them to become more engaged in the learning activity. If they’re fully immersed in a story about pirates as part of a history lesson, for example, they’ll be more likely to remember the information during the activity.
They’re also more likely to be challenged and to have fun. Classroom escape rooms provide an opportunity for students to work together, use their creativity, and think outside the box. All of these things are important in preparing students for success in college and in their careers.
Print Out Clues & Maps
Once you’ve written out the story and puzzles, don’t forget to print out clues and maps. Get creative with these and style them accordingly! If your classroom escape room is all about an adventurous trip to the jungles of Bali then create jungle-themed maps that look like banana leaves, for example.
Get Timing Right
It’s important to get the timing of a classroom escape room right for a few reasons. First, you want to make sure that all the students have a chance to participate. If the escape room is too short, some students may not get a chance to solve all the puzzles.
Second, you need to make sure that the escape room fits into your lesson plan. You don’t want to spend too much time in the escape room and not have enough time for other activities.
Finally, you want to make sure that the difficulty level of the escape room is appropriate for your students. Again, we can’t stress how important this is. If the escape room is too easy, your students will be bored. If the escape room is too difficult, your students will become frustrated.
Think About Teams
Think about whether you’ll create teams beforehand or if you’ll let the students choose their own teams.
If you’re creating teams for a classroom escape room, it is important to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. For example, some students may be better at solving puzzles while others may be better at finding clues.
Don’t Forget About Rewards
Finally, don’t forget about rewards and prizes! Children are very rewards-oriented. And after they’ve successfully completed the tasks at hand, you’ll want to reward them for all of their hard work.
Many teachers use candy or small toys as prizes, but you could also get creative and use gift cards, extra recess time, or even homework passes. If you want to get creative, you could wrap the prize in paper and include a clue that leads to the next prize.
Ultimately, the goal is to choose something that will motivate your students to participate in the escape room and do their best. If that means you have to offer a prize at the end of the winning team then so be it.
Get Ideas for a Classroom Escape Room
Learning how to create an escape room for students is great if you already have an idea of what your story will be. However, if you’re not quite sure what world you want to immerse your students in then we can help.
We’re your online source for everything travel, lifestyle, and tech-related. To get inspired, browse through our lifestyle articles for inspiration from daily life and other pop culture news. Drawing from recent events can be a great way to think of a relevant escape room them that will engage and delight students!