Escaping the Room to learn English

One of the camps we partner with has a camp during Easter break and they want it to be less in the classroom and more active. In theory that shouldn’t be too difficult, the only problem being, we don’t have anything like that quite yet.

We needed to brainstorm, so I talked to a good friend of mine who also does English camps and he mentioned using escape rooms to help teach English. I had just done my first two escape rooms earlier that year and loved them, so I was immediately all in.

For those of you who aren’t aware of escape rooms, let me explain the concept a bit before talking about how we will be using them in camps. An escape room is a thematic room that has clues, puzzles and riddles spread throughout the room. Some of the puzzles are straight-forward word scrambles while others require much more brain power to solve. Normally the rooms take an hour to complete and the goal is to find a code that you use to “escape the room.”

The tricky part for our use is that we need a portable escape room or one that does not require a lot of set-up. This would allow us to bring the escape room wherever we have a camp. Most escape rooms are set up for months at a time and therefore can be much more involved. We, on the other hand, will need to come and go within a week and will probably only have a few hours to set up the room for a couple uses and then have to take it down again.

I’ve been tasked with designing the escape room. I’ve done research by going to multiple escape rooms with different numbers of people and discussing with them what worked, what didn’t and how we could adapt some of the good aspects to make it portable. I’m not an escape room expert, but with the help of my friends, I’ve been able to get some very good ideas down on paper.

The second tricky part is that we will want to use these escape rooms for a multitude of themes, so instead of designing one escape room, instead I am designing a template that a theme could be added onto. From that template we could easily adapt the room to fit whatever theme the camp requests…in theory.

The last tricky part is creating something that with only minor tweaks could work with students who know very little English all the way up to conversationally fluent students. Not sure how we will handle that quite yet, but we’ll figure it out.

To me, this is exciting. It is a challenge for sure, but to design something that the kids can learn through that doesn’t even feel like learning is worth the work!

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