Escape rooms or breakout rooms are a novel way to engage students and get them to work collaboratively and think critically about your subject.
There are many escape rooms out there that are fantastic, but I was looking for activities that use actual, physical locks in the challenges. For obvious reasons, escape room challenges that are pre-made for a very specific topic, cannot tailor their activities for real locks in individual classrooms and instead rely on creative puzzle type activities to fictionally “unlock” different challenges.
As a result, I spent a couple of months creating my own escape room challenge for my 8th grade students. Through this experience I learned about a variety of puzzles, codes, and lesson pacing, but I was also challenged with the sequencing of activities. What do groups do first? Where does that lead? What must they accomplish when they get there? How do I tie this in with the core concepts and ideas of my curriculum because, after all, the students should be learning during this game, right? Sometimes it just hurt my head.
From my experience, I found that an escape room does not have to be very complicated. Rather than thinking big, with multiple challenges and lock varieties, the activity can start with student groups opening just one lock.
Mission Letter: Start Here
What I have created here is an editable mission letter for your class. The letter allows you to secretly embed a three-number lock combination, a puzzle to decipher the lock combination, and suggestions on what to have students “do” after opening the lock that you will tailor specifically to your class. The mission letter can be edited over and over and used multiple times over the course of the year.
***INCLUDED IN THIS BUNDLE***
*12 page mission letter with four versions and all teacher directions.
*6 pages for student assignment ready to edit
*2 pages of Lock request templates to use for staff and community as well as tips on where to look for free/cheap locks
*1 page next steps flow chart
Lastly, if you and your students enjoyed this activity, I have created other products and puzzles that can be added on to this mission letter so that when students open the first lock, and complete their content task, there will be information provided that will lead to a second lock or puzzle and an additional content task. I think of it like adding train cars to a locomotive. The engine (Mission Letter) works great as a stand alone but you can also add additional train cars one at a time to extend the activity.