How to create an escape the classroom game - Free lesson examples

Gamification and escape rooms are pretty much the most popular words in education. When hearing the word “game”, students suddenly straighten their backs and stop talking. Yes, you only need one miraculous word to get a quiet classroom.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to create a breakout classroom or ‘Escape the classroom’ game yourself. You can even add interesting lesson content to make it more than just a game. I will also give your some good escape room ideas for the classroom. These are available for you to use right away. Just share the link with your students and they can get started.

Choices to make in a classroom escape room

Before you start designing your breakout classroom, there are a few things you have to consider.

Goal

The first thing you need to know is that the goal isn’t always to escape the classroom. You can change the goal to anything you want. More important is that students can’t finish the game if they don’t find the right clues or can’t solve the riddles. Here’s a list with breakout goals:

  • Escape the classroom
  • Get an award
  • Get an achievement badge
  • Guide students towards an object (treasure case, candy…)
  • Free a colleague

Winning or “being the first” isn’t always the objective either. The fact that all students can reach your goal is also a big achievement. It means that they came so far and understood the lesson content in your classroom game.

Content

Another decision you have to make is whether you’re including lesson content, or whether you do it just for fun (such as for a yearly theme like Halloween or Christmas). Of course, you’ll always be teaching your students important skills such as problem-solving, working together, and critical thinking.

Digital or Combined

If you’re creating an ‘escape the classroom’ game with BookWidgets, your students are always bound to using a computer, tablet or smartphone. Of course, you can always activate your students by hiding clues in the classroom as well.

At a certain point in the digital breakout classroom, students are forced to leave their computers and find a code or clue in their environment so they can enter the next part of the game. Here are some tips:

  • Write down a code or clue with a UV pen and leave the pen somewhere nearby. Students will have to use the UV-light to reveal the clue.
  • Use locks with cipher codes or keys
  • Use a suitcase with a lock or cipher code. Hide a valuable tip or tool (the UV-Penn, a key) inside.
  • Use closets that you can lock with a key
  • Let students solve challenges or assignments. When they succeed, they get a new clue,…

Now, integrate those clues in the BookWidgets WebQuest or escape room. How? I’ll show you below. But first: some free escape room lesson plans you can use right away!

5 Free escape the classroom lesson plans

Digital breakout games with lesson content

1. Percentages

Here, students go on a treasure hunt. The goal is that they can calculate their fair part of the treasure. This means they have to know how to calculate percentages. Combine this digital treasure hunt with and actual treasure like for example fake gold coins, chocolate coins, candy,… Treasure hunt about calculating percentages

2. Gladiators

In this digital classroom escape room, students have to helps Spartacus escape his life as a gladiator. Help him reach the gate to freedom, while learning all about gladiators.

Escape the classroom lesson plan - Gladiators

Digital breakout games with themes

3. Halloween

Let your students investigate the murder of the victim: Brat Spook. When they find the murderer, they get their “inspector” badge. Let them look for evidence in the murder scene, talk to suspects, analyze lab results and so on!

Escape the classroom lesson plan - Halloween

4. Christmas

Save Christmas by helping Santa find back Rudolph. Students go through different challenges, talk to eye-witnesses, and follow Rudolph through a winter maze, so Santa can deliver all the presents to the children.

Escape the classroom lesson plan - Christmas

5. Easter

Can your students find a good Easter Bunny replacement? The Easter Bunny is hurt, so your students need to interview the possible applicants and take tests to replace the Easter Bunny themselves. If they succeed in the challenges, they get an Easter Bunny substitute badge.

Escape the classroom lesson plan - Easter

3 Steps to create an escape the classroom game

First, I want to stress that you have to use BookWidgets to create an escape room like this. Other apps or tools don’t have the same options and possibilities.

1. Create a storyline

What story do you want to tell? What are your students going to learn? This is the first step before you start creating. Think about a theme, and gather the lesson content you want to show your students. You can see in the “theme” escape the classroom games above I mostly use the same storyline:

  • Problem: murder, missing Rudolph, easter bunny is hurt
  • Helpful information: students have to look for extra information like evidence, eyewitnesses, candidates
  • Challenges: students have to go through challenges and assignments in order to move on.
  • Finish: students put everything together to get their reward, badge, congratulations, escape the classroom.

2. Draft widgets or exercises to make your story interactive

Now that you have a storyline, you have to know how you’re going to make it interactive. What BookWidgets exercises (or “widgets”) are you going to use? What widgets are perfect for hiding clues and codes? What widgets are you going to use for that particular lesson content?

Widgets in which you can give away codes or clues

The WordSearch, Memory, PairMatching, Spot The Difference, Jigsaw Puzzle, and the arithmetic widget, all have the option to add a Reward Word, a word students can see when they finished the exercises correctly. Add a clue or a code as “reward word”, so students will get it after finishing one of the mentioned widgets. Reward Word in BookWidgets

Widgets in which students have to add a code to start

When you gave away a clue, students can use that one to enter a quiz. You see, as a teacher, you can create a Quiz, Worksheet or Split Worksheet widget, and add a Startup Password. By doing so, your students can’t enter the quiz unless they type in the correct password. This can be a clue or code they found in one of the widgets above, or in the classroom.

Startup pasword in BookWidgets

Widgets in which you can add an automatical feedback message

When you create a Quiz, Worksheet or Split worksheet widget, you have the option to add automatic feedback based on a student’s grade. You can, for example, divide your students into 2 groups:

  • Students that score less than 50% on the quiz.
  • Students that score more than 50% on the quiz.

Based on their score, students will receive a different message: The first group can get this message “Too bad, try again”. The second group can get this message “Good job! remember this code ‘1234’. You’ll need it to move on.”

This means that the second group can move on, and the first group needs to master the lesson content before they can go to the next exercise, or to the end of the breakout game.

Automatical feedback in BookWidgets

Example!

Here’s an example of a quiz with a startup password and an automatic feedback message. To enter, you’ll have to complete this word search widget with a reward word.

3. Put everything together in a WebQuest

Use the WebQuest widget to combine all widgets. Add tabs and sections to structure your story and guide your students in the right direction. Add internal links that will bring your students to the right spot in the WebQuest.

Here’s a tutorial on how to configure a WebQuest widget. You’ll learn how to add and combine text, multimedia, and the other widgets created with lesson content, exercises, clues, and hidden messages.

WebQuest tutorial

Wrap up

I hope this post helps you creating an escape or breakout classroom game. Just use one of the examples above, or create one yourself:

Lucie Renard

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About BookWidgets

BookWidgets enables teachers to create fun and interactive lessons for tablets, smartphones, and computers.

Choose from over 40 exercise templates (quizzes, crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, ...), and adapt them with your own content.