7th and 8th Grade Escape Game!

You know those popular escape games people are obsessed with? 
Let's use them for education!

Before Spring Break, the 7th and 8th graders have a Springterium; a half day full of specially scheduled events and activities. The Learning Commons was asked to do something for 45 minutes, 3 times during the day. We had already done a good amount of research on BreakoutEDU and had been looking for an excuse to try it out with a class. What better time to give it a shot?!

Since we have a wide range of abilities, we created 3 separate “tracks,” an easy, medium, and difficult. Since the groups wouldn’t be coming to us by skill level, we had to plan to run each track three times, with about 5-1o minutes to reset. (NOT enough time FYI.)

We also created an elaborate backstory about 2 pirate ghosts and lost treasure. This isn’t necessary for a breakout game, but it sure was fun! In the end our game became more of a treasure hunt and less an escape. However for what we were doing, this worked out really well!

Here are a few things we learned from our day of treasure hunting!

  1. BreakOut games are time consuming! It’s incredibly beneficial to have more than 1 person working on creation. We worked as a duo; collaborating on material gathering, clue creation, and backstory.
  2. Don’t underestimate reset time (If you’re doing the same game more than once in a day.) Allow at least 10 minutes per game to reset adequately. Otherwise you may forget some tiny details like post it notes in certain areas or repositioning a hidden clue.
  3. Make it clear to the teachers helping (or whomever is assisting with supervision) that this is a STUDENT LED ACTIVITY. They are welcome to walk through it with the students, but they shouldn’t help. At all. (That’s what the “hint” cards are for!) 
  4. Keep groups small if possible so everyone has a chance to help out. We noticed that groups of 3-4 students were most efficient.
  5. Hint cards are the best tool the students can use. Don’t let them forget this! Many of our groups wouldn’t have succeeded without using at least of the two cards we gave them.
  6. Run through the game first with a teacher or a colleague. Trust me on this one. You don’t know what you may have missed or need to change until you have an outside eye having a look at it!


Ok so, Our Day Begins!!

In costume,  we showed the students this trailer explaining the story behind their quest. (costumes optional.)

Followed by the following keynote, Pirate Treasure Hunt, Explaining the rules and expectations.

Students were then places into three pirate crews, depending on the level. From there, the students had 30 minutes to find the lost treasure of Captain Peg-Leg Bones!

To follow each track, click on the name of the crew below

The Black Pearl (Easy) 

The Jolly Roger (Medium)

The Flying Dutchman (Difficult)




The first clue was a math problem, that would lead them to their base of operations (classroom)


This was the math clue for the easy track, The Black Pearl crew. The answer was 218.

In the room, on the table, they found this language arts clue.


The numerical code opening an iPad


Once the iPad was opened, the opening screen had the following science clue (Sorry I don’t have a photo for this one!)

If there are cumulonimbus clouds above you, what’s most likely happening?

This led to a weather map taped to the wall of the classroom


(Notice the Aurasma app symbol in the far right corner)

When students scanned the thunderstorm, a message appeared saying

X Marks the Spot

Which led them to the map taped to the adjoining wall, a social studies clue.

When the students, again using Aurasma, scanned the correct coordinates for the red X (C3), They saw the next clue.

A boy who never grows up fights a pirate who fears a croc.
Seek this book. 

This (library and literature clue),  led them to the fiction section (and the book “Peter Pan” where, next to the matching novel, they found a fake book with a rolled up clue and red crayon inside.

The rolled up clue included a grid and coordinate, our version of a coding clue. The students had to color in the path according to the listed coordinates. This clue led to the “laser maze” we had set up in the board room (a 9 x 6 grid made from yarn about 1.5 feet above the ground.)

When they found their correct ending coordinate, the found a basket with a lock box hidden underneath. The code to open the lock box was handwritten near the top right hand corner of the rolled clue (the one listed the coordinates to color in.)


The instructions on the top were to make sure the blue bins stayed in the maze. Otherwise the last group would have an easy time finding their lockbox!

The box, when opened, included a picture of a beanbag and a key. This instructed them to look underneath the myriad of beanbags in the Learning Commons until they found the treasure.  The key from the lock box would open the lock where inside we had stashed some candy and Mardi Gras beads.


Yes that’s a Harry Potter box. It’s hard finding cheap treasure boxes big enough and not made of cardboard!

That was the path for the easy track! Don’t forget to check out the other two tracks we designed as well, which can be found below.

EDIT: The other tracks aren’t available to view yet since I haven’t finished their posts! Just keep checking back. I should have them posted up later this week, if not today. (3/29)


3 thoughts on “7th and 8th Grade Escape Game!

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