How to make your own escape room games for parties, school and student engagement, or to sell, with decoders, ciphers, Morse code, and easy templates.Home » TeacherWriter.co Blog and News » Teaching Strategies »
Have you ever seen a master teacher work their magic in a classroom? I once had the opportunity and pleasure to observe a master math teacher who had the best student engagement. Students were eager to participate, and they told me they loved her class. What was her magic trick?
She was teaching statistics and probability. Does that seem a bit dry to you? However, she’d transformed her teaching and student engagement by gamifying the lessons. That’s to say, she used games to teach math skills.
Have you ever wished you could get your students excited to be in your class every day?
If I’m guessing correctly, you nodded your head to answer yes.
Today, escape rooms have blasted onto the classroom scene. They’re fun, they’re engaging, and they can be used to teach any subject.
But do you wonder if escape rooms are rigorous? Can they truly keep students focused on the lesson?
As you read this blog post, you’ll start to feel better and better about using this student engagement strategy in your classroom.
Research Behind Using Games as Lessons for Student Engagement
You already know that inquiry based learning is a popular educational strategy. It involves allowing students to explore a topic and develop questions around it. This student centered learning develops their inquisitiveness because it allows them choice and voice. It leads to greater retention of what they’ve learned.
You probably also know that you can incorporate games and inquiry based learning using the newest technology and apps, or with simple paper and pencils.
It increases collaboration, communication, and teamwork. Escape room lessons can be done individually, in partners, as a team, or even as a whole class. Increasing these types of opportunities will naturally increase student engagement.
The article Digital Games Beat Out Lectures When It Comes to Student Learning may give you new ideas about how to use escape room games online.
You can also use escape room and scavenger hunt activities as a way to increase intentional movement in your classroom, not the wiggle in their seats type of movement. I’m sure you’ve heard of or read research proving that students who incorporate movement into their learning retain more. Larry Ferlazzo wrote an article for Education Week sharing Eight Ways to Use Teaching and Movement in Learning.
TPR (Total Physical Response) and active learning is also incorporated in Whole Brain Teaching ideas and neuropsychology.
Wouldn’t it be fun to teach students who are excited to learn with you? Every single day?
Incorporating Rigor and Critical Thinking Into Escape Room Activities
One terrific thing about using escape room activities for teaching is the rigor they can bring into your classroom when they’re properly designed. Here are a few things they can do:
- Require students to revisit and reread a text multiple times
- Help student develop the critical thinking skill of inference
- Increase vocabulary and using the new vocabulary
- Use the time-tested technique of color coding reading passages for specific features
- Encode the algorithms of a math or science process
- Build understanding and empathy for different historical points of view
To maintain rigor, you should preview an escape room with an eye to the standard or objective you’re teaching. If you want students to develop an understanding of the causes of the United States Revolutionary War, for example, an escape room is a terrific option. A well written one could help them understand both US and UK points of view, and think critically about the effects of the taxes and treatment of colonists.
It’s also a perfect way to incorporate primary sources into the learning. As students navigate through the primary sources you have available for them online or in your classroom, they’ll be more engaged if it’s in the context of solving a puzzle. If you want to see what I mean, check out the previews of the escape rooms I’ve made for academic subjects.
Enhancing Focus and Engagement With Escape Room Games
Every teacher know that students love hands-on learning experiences. The highest engagement in my classes was always in science. Why? Because students were doing experiments, recording results, and looking for solutions using STEM strategies.
Escape room learning incorporates active listening, movement, reading, and collaboration. This is true for any subject of an escape room. That’s why I include a video hook with all my escape rooms like this one on Pinterest.
Preparing for the in-depth types of math real-world problems is especially adapted to escape rooms. Who wouldn’t love to learn about exponential growth of bacteria using an escape room? Or plan a school bake sale event using math in an escape room? The possibilities are as infinite as your imagination.
Escape room games can be adapted to any subject, allowing you to get creative in your teaching, and helping your students stay focused and engaged.
You Can Use Escape Room Games to Differentiate and Accommodate Learning Styles
Imagine if you could easily differentiate for each student. You can with escape rooms. Each one can include different types of puzzles. These puzzles and challenges can be chosen based on the needs of your students.
- Is a student a visual learner? You can include visual puzzles.
- Is another student great with codes? You can use decoders and ciphers.
- Perhaps your students do well with color codes. Color code challenges work well even in middle school and high school grade levels.
- You can add audio to escape rooms or read it aloud to students who benefit from hearing their lessons.
However you choose to differentiate and accommodate, you can do it with an escape room or scavenger hunt.
What ideas have you already come up with for differentiation?
FREE Escape Room Games and Escape Room Ideas
Ever since I discovered it’s possible to do escape rooms without cutting, gluing, stuffing envelopes, and hiding things around the room, I’ve been really leaning in to them. Before this, I avoided using escape rooms. All that set up was just too darn much work for one lesson.
But once I learned how to make escape rooms that are basically print and go, no-prep, and easy for the teacher, I’ve been all in. It’s a snap to make them digital, too.
You can grab a free end of the school year mini escape room right here to see what I’m talking about. You can also get a vocabulary based escape room in the Member Vault area of this website.
Do You Want To Learn How to Make Your Own Escape Rooms?
Maybe you want to make your own escape rooms instead of scrolling and searching for one that fits your curriculum. Or perhaps you want to customize them to your class or your subject that you teach.
You might think some of the escape rooms out there don’t target the skills you want your students to develop so you want to make your own.
If you prefer to make your own escape rooms to use in your classroom, and maybe even to sell as a teacher side-hustle…
This is for you.
Lisa Fink at Think Tank Teacher, has the most helpful ideas and templates to create your own escape rooms, and she shares them with no holds barred.
If you want to know a little bit more about Lisa, Entrepreneur.com has an interview with her. It describes how she went from middle school teaching to selling and teaching about escape rooms.
I’ve taken some of her phenomenal courses. That’s how I fell in love with creating these engaging lessons. Every morning I get up, eager to get busy creating the next escape room.
Cloaked in Fun is her academic escape room course. It’s especially designed for teachers, so you can learn how to incorporate engaged learning into escape rooms and scavenger hunts. With her templates and shortcuts, you can create one in just a couple of hours. Best of all, you can use it for as long as you teach that course.
Here’s an idea to shorten the time you spend planning.
What If you and your teaching cohort took this course together? You could each create different escape rooms. Then you could share them with your team, and cut hours off your prep time.
What would you do with your extra time?
Easy Escape Rooms will teach you how to create fun escape rooms for parties, holidays, and special occasions. They’re not typically academic, but they’re always fun. This course includes step-by-step instructions on how to set up an Etsy shop if you want to sell your escape rooms.
- Simple Scavenger Hunts
- Creating Printables for Kids
- Making Worksheets Irresistible With Game Elements
You can’t beat that price! $Free.99, my friend!
A few times a year, Lisa does a free five day challenge. The challenge might teach you how to make a mini escape room, like the end of the school year one you can grab here. Or it might be a mini vocabulary escape room, like the one here.
When you join one of these challenges, you’ll walk away with a resource you can use right away, plus all the templates you need to create more escape rooms. Don’t wait! It’s free, and it only takes about 30 minutes a day.
Many of her unique courses are time sensitive. If they’re closed when you visit her site, you can get on the wait-list to be notified when they open again. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this!
Don’t Forget to Pin This to Your Board
- Escape rooms, scavenger hunts, and gamifying worksheets have been proven to increase student engagement and retention.
- Incorporating movement into lessons increases learning.
- Escape rooms can be used to differentiate and accommodate different modes of learning.
- You can make your own escape rooms in a snap.
Like I mentioned earlier, once I learned how to gamify my lessons, I was hooked. I love sharing how to get students excited about learning, and teachers can have more fun teaching. Take a look at the variety of my escape rooms on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Are you beginning to see how this could transform your lessons?
Do you want to learn this magic trick?
All you need to do is visit Think Tank Teacher to get all the tricks of the trade.