Back to School REVERSE Escape Room: Candy Land-Inspired Break IN to ANY Class!

Grade Levels
5th - 12th
Formats Included
  • PDF (25 Slides, 8 Themed Puzzles, 3 Page Instruction Manual)
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The only thing sweeter than summer break? Knowing that you’ve got a game-changing activity in store for the first days back. Kick your new school year off with a REVERSE escape room -- which is *SO. MUCH. BETTER.* than the traditional approach of “hi! Now let’s waste 40 minutes reading the syllabus" and “Let’s Do Some Super Awkward Icebreakers!” approach to a traditional course introduction. Introduce course routines, cool tech tools, and classroom procedures to start your class year off with a game-changing twist!

In this REVERSE Escape Room, students will work with small groups of teammates in an effort to explore all there is to learn about your course's whimsical world of color, life, and student-driven energy! Along the way, they'll earn custom badges, have the chance to make some new friends, and get a hang for a handful of the tools, classroom procedures, and resources that they’ll be making use of together as a class throughout the upcoming school year. This completely editable gamified approach to a welcome back activity can be modified for any course or content area (don't laugh: I teach eleventh grade literature, and my students ate it up!). And it’s a sweet way to start a year.


Imagine a class Escape Room in REVERSE. Where student teams compete to break IN to a new unit of study, teaching themselves by solving asynchronous BYOD puzzles in a race against their peers and the clock.


I've had a ton of fun designing and implementing themed escape rooms in my HS classes, but for as AMAZING as class escape rooms and tools like Breakout EDU can be (for real, they're fantastic!) -- I've found the traditional escape room to be somewhat limited when it comes to its functionality in ensuring that all students receive access to all puzzles. This posed a real challenge when using escape rooms in place of traditional lectures to introduce new content that could be delivered in such a way that every student would get the same level of access to new materials.

And thus, #QRBreakIN was born.

Think of it as a REVERSE Escape Room (or a caffeinated update on old-school "centers" with a gamification twist) designed for simultaneously teaching eight different concepts through asynchronous problem-solving by using devices in small groups. Capturing the fun and excitement of an escape room, while self-pacing and enriching content in a way that moves more efficiently through all of the material you'd otherwise have to cram into a traditional lecture.

No physical locks to set or boxes to keep track of. With a ticking countdown and an overhead leaderboard so EVERY student will complete EVERY activity -- and find themselves genuinely excited to do so! This REVERSE Escape Room is designed to help your students “Break IN” to the world of your classroom through a series of timed challenges, team puzzles, and self-paced unit content and enrichment activities.


This game is designed as a teaching activity as you welcome students to your classroom in the first days of school. The gamified approach to activity centers can likewise be reformatted for play for any future unit of study at any time during the year (you might likewise consider using individual puzzle types at select intervals throughout any unit). Though it is originally designed as a “back to school” style puzzle with asynchronous activities, it can quickly be adapted for any new concept in virtually any course or content area with access to BYOD or one-to-one internet access.

This high-energy "Candy Land" inspired activity is 100% editable -- and requires minimal set-up. Student teams compete asynchronously in a looping three step process:

• SELECT a puzzle from the available choices by drawing color-coded cards

• SOLVE the puzzle at your desk group with your teammates

• REDEEM the puzzle for the corresponding candy badge

Player teams will collect new badges as they solve different puzzles, with the goal of being the first team to collect all of the available badges before time expires! (If you're feeling particularly "sweet" -- you might even surprise the first place team with some actual Smarties for their efforts)!


Students will need BYOD or one-to-one devices with free QR scanner apps installed. There are eight puzzles in this game, testing the following skills by using a mix of traditional handwritten notes and discussion, websites, and these free mobile apps:

• COTTON CANDY: Course Introduction Survey (Google Forms)

• CUPCAKE: “Can you draw an ideal classroom?” (Sketchnoting)

• CANDY CANE: Content Quiz (Quizizz)

• CANDY BAR: Growth Mindset Article (Webquest)

• RED LICORICE: Video Trailer (YouTube)

• LOLLIPOP Course Content Preview (EdPuzzle)

• GUMDROP: “What’s your Best vs. Favorite Class?" (Flipgrid)

• CHOCOLATE LAVA: Great teacher / student discussion (Microlab)


+ 3 page game instruction manual

+ 25 fully illustrated Google Slides with all printables and escape room activity scenario planning documents for 40-60 minutes of simulation (the template of which you can use again and again to introduce a similar "break in" for any future unit of study).

+ EIGHT themed puzzles that can serve as in-game activities or stand alone centers for asynchronous pre-teaching / assessment of course basics.

+ TWO ready to go, plug-and-play quiz activities using EdPuzzle (1 video with 10 questions) and Quizziz (10 questions),

+ A FREE copy of my course welcome letter that's otherwise available on TPT for $2, along with a complete set of survey questions in a back-to-school Google Forms questionnaire for inspiration.

*(Note: Not ready for a full-class Escape Room? No problem. Teachers can use these same interactive puzzles as stand-alone activities to be completed in small groups across multiple days of your welcome back week! Have groups solve one or two puzzles a day to keep chasing for new badges one at a time as you roll out new classroom tools or concepts). Plus you have full edit access to the Google Slides presentation, which makes it a PERFECT pedagogical tool to revisit time and again as you break "in" to any new unit of study)!

+ ONE Candy Land-Themed gameboard, designed to spark visual intrigue and echo the familiar gameplay of childhood.

+ A complete set of printable color-coded "DRAW" cards (to move around the board), plus color-coded player gingerbread people icons (to use as player tokens), and eight candy-themed badges.

+ Complete instructions on how to create themed Google Forms and customized QR codes for all puzzles to serve as electronic locks

+Step-by-step teacher walk-through for all activity puzzles. (Included as speaker notes on each page of the Google Slides)

+ Step-by-step walkthrough of the pedagogical rationales and instructional strategies behind each of the game's puzzles, mixing high-energy hands-on problem-solving, kinesthetic learning, and app-based gamification. A sample: "A microlab is a timed discussion in which teammates take turns hearing one another out as they respond to the same “HOT” (“Higher Order Thinking”) question. Hot questions are multi-layered questions without simple “yes” or “no” answers, so they typically lend themselves to multiple layers of interpretations. Keep digging! And be prepared to use rich detail to fill the time! When you’re ready, call The Narrator over to observe your group’s Microlab discussion on this question: “What makes a great teacher? What makes a great student?”

+Step-by-step teacher walkthrough with sample work products and to how to set up accounts and activate all game puzzles.

+ Fully customizable Google Slides download contains plug-and-play Escape Room scenario and review game that can be put in place TODAY if your students have device access. Likewise, includes instructions on how to modify any puzzles to your course needs (including strategies for classes using laptops) -- creating incredible versatility and flexible re-use.

***(PLUS additional activity modification instructions and an at-home scoreboard for educators who might be teaching this year's classes using a distance learning or hybrid instruction model)!***

High energy, visually stunning, and fully immersive -- this is a class escape room done right. Driven by student collaboration, competition, and communication skills: it's an immersive BREAK IN activity that your classes will NEVER forget.

Have a sweet year! And good luck with your REVERSE escape room!

- John

*PS: While I really cannot say enough great things about BreakoutEDU, please note that this product is in no way affiliated with, designed for, or endorsed by BreakoutEDU. Two totally separate products with two completely different instructional aims. BreakoutEDU is run by awesome people with an fantastic class-based Escape Room product, where students collaborate with classmates to divide & conquer and break out of a themed escape room scenario. #QRBreakIN games use the same timed spirit of competitive play to "break IN" to a new unit, which ensures that ALL students have the chance to work on ALL puzzles.


Want more Escape Rooms?

Comprehensive End-of-Unit Escape Rooms designed for BreakoutEDU:

Escape Room: Death of a Salesman

Escape Room: Emerson, Thoreau and American Romanticism

Escape Room: Hamilton

Escape Room: Poetry of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson

Escape Room: To Kill a Mockingbird

Shakespeare Escape Rooms:

Hamlet's Mouse-Trap

The Merchant of Venice: Shylock's Revenge

Romeo & Juliet

Or Break IN to a Brand New Unit with a REVERSE Escape Room using QR Codes!

As I Lay Dying: The Legend of Bundren #QRBreakIN REVERSE Escape Room (Plays Like Zelda!)

As I Dying: Tull's River Crossing #QRBreakIN REVERSE Escape Room

Ethan Frome #QRBreakIN REVERSE Escape Room

The Great Gatsby #QRBreakIN REVERSE Escape Room

To Kill a Mockingbird REVERSE Escape Room: Break IN to Boo Radley's!

Looking for a Back-to-School Reverse Escape Room?

Attack of the Brain-Chomping Zombies (with Zombie Bowling Bonus Game!)

Candy Land Inspired Reverse Break In

Classroom CLUE Reverse Escape Room (with Whodunnit Mystery Bonus Game)

Dinosaur Park Inspired Back to School Escape Room (With Paper Airplane Assault Mini Game)

Education Avengers Assemble Superhero Themed Reverse Escape Room (with Marshmallow Challenge)

Flight of The Force Space Themed Reverse Escape Room (With Paper Airplane Assault Mini Game)

Fortnite Inspired Marshmallow Challenge Growth Mindset Bundle

Invasion of the Body-Snatching Aliens (with Intergallactic Bowling Bonus Game))

A Pirate's Life (with Plastic Straw Bridges Bonus Challenge)

Wizard's Quiditch Reverse Escape Room (With Paper Quaffle Shot Challenge Bonus Game)

World Class Cup Soccer Inspired Back to School Reverse Escape Room (With Paper Penalty Kick Mini Game)

Total Pages
25 Slides, 8 Themed Puzzles, 3 Page Instruction Manual
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
90 minutes
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