Are you looking for a fun and engaging way to wrap up the school year? Then why not try an escape room activity with your students! Escape rooms in the classroom are an excellent way to engage students in learning, fostering teamwork and collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and leadership. In this blog post, we will guide you on how to have your students create their own escape rooms for their classmates, using topics you’ve studied this year!
Create Your Own Escape Room
Nail Down a Theme
First, divide your students into small groups of 3-4, and have them choose a piece of content or skill that they learned in your class this year. This will be the focus of their escape room! You may want to brainstorm ideas as a whole class to ensure that not every group is selecting the same skill. The possibilities are endless: a grammar review escape room, an escape room focused on a novel, short story or poem that was read, one all about literary terms, vocabulary or figurative language!
Once each group has nailed down their topic, give them time to brainstorm their escape room theme. Encourage them to think outside the box, such as a pirate treasure hunt, a zombie apocalypse, catching a flight, or surviving a storm! ( To scaffold this activity, you could have a variety of ideas ready for them to choose from!)
Tasks and Questions
Once students have their ELA concept and their theme locked in, it’s time for them to come up with the actual escape room tasks and questions. This next part might take 2-3 class periods, though that time can be shortened if you allow them to utilize a language model such as Chat GPT to help them come up with the first version of the questions.
Each group will come up with 4 rounds of questions and tasks for their classmates to complete. Let’s walk through some ideas of what each round might look like:
Round 1 might be setting the scene for the actual escape room. Students should write a paragraph explaining the situation participants are in and why they must escape! Then they will create 8 multiple-choice questions where one answer is correct for each question. Students would make one letter in each answer choice BOLD, and then once participants answer all the questions, they would take the bolded letter from each correct answer and unscramble them to make a word. Once they have that correct word, they get to move onto the next round.
Round 2 might be coming up with 5 true/false statements that connect to the chosen ELA topic. Students creating the escape room could require participants to do some kind of mini-task for each true statement. For example, participants could write a haiku for each true statement. The haiku could be related to the answer and must be approved by the teacher or escape room creators before students move to the next round.
Round 3 might be a short answer question that participants must answer. Requirements could include part of the EB Writing Approach and use a premise, evidence, and justification, or whatever writing framework you use in class. Once the short answer is approved by the teacher or escape room creators, participants can move onto the final round.
Round 4 might be a Monster Multiple Choice Question where there are 10 possible answers. Participants must find the correct answer and then for some added fun, read it backward to the teacher or escape room creators, before they can make their final escape!
At this point, students will have selected their ELA concept, come up with a theme, and created their escape room questions/puzzles along with the corresponding tasks.
Clue Cards and Decor
So after students have come up with their four task cards and answer keys, they will move on to creating three clue cards that will lead their classmates to the next task. The clues should be creative and lead to different locations in the classroom. Students can be encouraged to come up with riddles or rhymes to make the clues more interesting.
Once the clue cards are created, students can use the remainder of the class period to create some simple decor that relates to their chosen theme. They can also brainstorm any additional props they want to bring in from home to enhance the experience.
Before students submit their task cards and clue cards to the teacher, it’s a good idea to have them test the entire escape room to ensure it works seamlessly. The teacher will need to make enough copies of the task cards and clue cards to distribute to the student groups on the day of the escape room.
A Few Tips
Depending on how long activities typically take for the students, you can do 1-2 escape rooms per class period. We would recommend doing 1 a day and then use any remaining time in the period to read, do a short grammar game, or wrap up any past units, etc. You may even choose to set a time limit for the actual escape room to create a sense of urgency.
Overall, this end-of-year activity allows students to create engaging and interactive learning experiences that cater to their interests and needs. It’s a great way to end the year with excitement and energy, and actually leave students feeling motivated and inspired. If you decide to include this idea in your plans for the last week or two of the school year, be sure to let us know how it goes!