History Lesson Escape Room

The physical adventure games known as escape rooms are a booming industry right now. Players are locked into a room (or a structure with several rooms) and must “escape” by solving clues or accomplishing physical or mental challenges.

The wonderful thing about escape rooms is that they are often a history lesson in disguise. If you want to bring your history lesson to life, consider turning it into a homemade escape room for your kids.

Here’s how you can do it:

1. Location
Determine the location where your children need to “escape.” You can choose several connecting rooms, hiding keys required to pass from one to the next, or you can decide to have just one room where all the clues are hidden.

Doing an escape room is all about solving a mystery or problem, so don’t worry if the room you use doesn’t have locked doors. The challenge doesn’t need to be a physical breaking out. It can simply be an imaginary breaking out once the mystery is solved. Make sure you communicate whichever type of escape room your children will be solving. For example, walking out an open doorway or through an unlocked door does not mean they escaped if the mystery is not solved.

2. Story
Choose your story based on whatever lesson you want your kids to learn. If you are studying ancient Rome, you can write a storyline turning your children into Christians fleeing from Nero’s persecution. If you are studying the French Revolution, your storyline can turn your children into spies helping to overthrow Robespierre and end the Reign of Terror.

Start with the time period or situation you want your children to learn about, and then write them into the story by placing them in a situation requiring problem-solving.

Of course, all of this requires imagination from you and your kids. As you explain the storyline to your kids, have fun with it. The more you buy into the story as you guide your kids through this imagined problem, the more they will be able to imagine it.

3. Sequence
The final thing you will need to decide on is the order of what happens. Sometimes it’s easiest to work backwards. For example, if the final clue leads your band of travelers on the Silk Road to escape the bandits’ hideaway, your last clue should lead them to a key. What can lead them to that key?

Clues can be word puzzles, math problems, or codes needing to be deciphered. You might also write a clue to find a certain book that can be used to decipher a code.

Write out the sequence of your steps, so you know where your storyline is going. For example, you might have them start with a letter from someone in their secret co-hort. That letter may hint at the importance of a book. Once the book is found, a note needing translation may be hidden in its pages. Once translated, that note may give a set of numbers. Those numbers might just unlock a padlock which opens a box full of pieces of a photograph. When put back together, the photograph pieces reveal a map, etc.

The sky’s the limit for how many clues you write or how hard they are. You will want to make sure your clues are age appropriate, but don’t be afraid to make them challenging. To make sure your kids have fun and don’t give up on a difficult clue, allow them one or two hints, worked into the storyline, which they can ask for if they really get stuck.

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