Thanks to our amazing PTO, our class was gifted an awesome Breakout Edu kit! In short, the kit comes with materials to help set up "escape room"-like activities. Escape rooms are locked rooms where participants have to look for clues and solve riddles to find the key to unlock the room. (Check out this clip from "The Big Bang Theory" that shows an escape room) While this isn't exactly replicable in the education setting, it has been adapted through Breakout Edu. It has the clues and locks and riddles and fun, without the possible legal/ethical/safety issues surrounding locking students in a room. (Although, for the record, my students were begging me to actually lock them in!)
After a few weeks of anticipation, our kit finally arrived last Tuesday afternoon. I had been planning our first breakout for weeks, a Halloween themed game based on one of our books, but once I had the kit in my hands, I knew we had to play right away! Hence, our adventure into the "Candy Caper"!
The Candy Caper
For our first breakout, I selected "Candy Caper" from the Breakout Edu store. It was perfect for my students' ages and seemed like an easy challenge to get us started. I wanted to save our big challenge for Halloween, but I thought this would be a good introduction to using the locks, following the clues, and learning the rules/courtesies of a breakout game. (And hopefully would make our big breakout more successful.)
To begin, I had to assemble the game materials. This was pretty easy. There were two items that I needed to print. One was a URL and the other was a pattern of card suits. I also had to write the lock combination in invisible ink on some playing cards. From there, it was pretty much just a matter of hiding what needed to be hid, and locking up the box of candy!
Since this was our first breakout, I decided to go without the timer (breakouts are usually timed) because I didn't want the kids to be discouraged if they didn't solve it in time. I also let them do it full group since multiple small groups is hard to manage in the elementary setting (resetting the room, keeping the other groups out, etc...)
- A full group breakout is very hard! I'm glad we did our first this way, but there were a few students that were bummed because they "didn't get to do anything". The novelty of the activity made it okay with those kids, but repeated "not doing anything"-ness will not fly for future games.
- Kids will try to pick locks. Nice try third grades, but just follow the clues (it would probably be quicker anyway)! Next time, explicit directions about not putting anything into a lock other than a key will be put into place.
- Have a back-up in place for tech-related complications. The URL on the paper didn't match the URL that I clicked on in the Google Doc, so when their image pulled up and was different, I panicked! I wasn't sure if the image would give them the same instructions, so I pulled the URL up on the projector for them. It would have worked with the URL they had, but it doesn't hurt to have a backup.
- The UV flashlight was the clear favorite! It blew the students' minds! This will be a staple in our future breakouts!
- Directional locks are scary! I read so many reviews of people have trouble with the speed locks that I set this one aside for now. Once I've mastered it, I will bring it out, but for now, it is on the back burner (it is fun though!)
- It is addictive! Before the game was even over, the kids were asking when the next breakout would be! They don't do that with a worksheet!
- Breakout is awesome! The kids worked together so well! They had a common goal and were such a great team! Quiet students suddenly found their voice when they spotted a clue the others overlooked. Natural leaders took charge. Cooperative learning at its best for sure!