I absolutely LOVE using escape lessons or breakout activities to make my instruction fun and engaging for my students. Earlier, I shared a blog post on how I’ve started using escape rooms in my fourth grade classroom. The post gives step-by-step directions in how to implement and organize a physical or digital escape room or back to school breakout. You can find that post here.
I wanted to incorporate an escape lesson at the beginning of the year. But I knew that my students wouldn’t be ready for an academic breakout lesson early in the school year. This Back to School Breakout is quite a bit different from my other escape lessons, because it’s not directed toward a specific grade level or standard. Instead, this focuses on critical thinking and puzzle type activities that are suitable for multiple grade levels. Like my other breakout lessons, I have created physical and digital versions. So, you won’t need a ton of materials.
I store all of students’ materials in a manila folder. I create one folder for each of my groups, and I have four students in each group.
Inside the folder, I include a student direction page that gives an overview of each of the challenges in the escape activity. My students have learned that it is essential for them to read the directions carefully.
In the first challenge, students solve a four by four puzzle. That in itself isn’t difficult, but this is challenging, because the pictures do not assist students in solving the puzzle. Instead, students will have to work together cooperatively to put the puzzle together. Then students will add the digits in each row together to find the combination to open the first lock (physical or digital). I cut these out and store them in sandwich baggies inside the envelopes.
Once students complete the first challenge, they are able to begin the second activity in the packet, where they describe what they should do in various social situations. In this activity, students have a collection of task cards with different scenarios such as, “You and your friends are talking at lunch. You notice a student looking at your group but not talking. What could you do?” I feel like this type of activity is essential for developing soft skills with students and for developing a classroom community. I also store these in sandwich baggies and keep them in the envelope.
Since there isn’t a right or wrong answer, I added a second part to this activity. When students finish writing down what they could do, they will bring me their recording sheet, and I give them a maze to complete. The numbers on the correct path are the digits in the next combination. This portion of the activity should be quite fast, and it adds to the puzzle component of the escape room.
Clue 3 includes a back to school Bingo game. This will allow students to get to know the members of their group at a deeper level. There are 20 different events on the Bingo sheet, and if a group member has completed one of those activity, they should write their name on the line. When there are five spaces in a row, vertically, or diagonally signed, students have Bingo! I make a rule that each student in the group must add their name to a line at least once.
Since this is another activity where there is no clear answer, I’ve created an additional step to this activity. Students will use American Sign Language to decode the next clue. This spells out the colors used in the next lock. If you don’t have a color lock, I’ve also included a color wheel decoder, so you can use it with number locks as well.
In the final activity, students answer classroom procedure questions to find the letter combination for the last lock. This allows students to review some of our classroom procedures in a fun way. Since every classroom is different, I’ve included an editable copy for you! This will allow you to adjust the questions and answer choices to your classroom needs.
I love the challenge and fun this will provide my students during this busy time of year! You can see the activity here!