How this teacher scored an epic WIN with a DIY escape room kit:
Using the Builder's Kit from our 'Lost Mummy' escape room game, Dani created a whole new escape room which wowed her students and won the day!
In this article, we give you a glimpse into just how she pulled off such a heroic feat...
... but first, check out her fun little intro video:
The legend is born...
Dani is one of those cool teachers. You know the type, the super-committed kind that'll do anything to really engage with her students.
As always, Dani's school in Busan, South Korea was hosting their annual Halloween party. But this time, Dani wanted to do something especially thrilling... an escape room!
Little did she know, this decision would make her a hero.
Bringing this escape room to life would prove to be a Herculean effort worthy of song. It took Dani months to transform 'The Lost Mummy' into her perfect Halloween escape room game, and then on the day, another 7 and 1/2 hours to run almost 200 students through 'Dracula's Escape Castle'!
Wanna know how she pulled this off? So did the High Wizards - we interviewed her to find out!
Don't worry, our security goblins have found a way to protect the identity of these students!
Clever wizards save time using this magical tool!
Dani created her escape room game using the Builder's Kit included with 'The Lost Mummy'.
The puzzles, graphics, and templates included in the Builder's Kit are all in an easily-editable Powerpoint format.
This streamlines the editing process, giving you more time to chuckle ominously over the grim fate of your players!
Well, don't you look devious... Want even more sneaky tips and tricks for making your own escape room?
Q1. How did you go about creating your escape room game?
Mm. This is a hard question. I think the first thing I did was research types of puzzles.
I wanted to find a variety of puzzles that could be solved by my students. Then I had to keep logistics in mind as well. Since I was preparing rooms for the whole school to go through, I wanted to have reusable pieces that didn't need a lot of time to reset.
I saved myself from headaches by investing time into research before building my game.
How did you get the difficulty level just right?
Honestly, this was hard!!!! So how did I ensure that it wasn't too hard? I was in the hallway (there were 6 rooms in total) frequently popping in and asking if they needed any hints or help. The older the students, the less help they needed.
Where did you get ideas for your puzzles from?
Q2. How long did you spend working on the game?
Oh. Maybe two months, for several hours each day, 3-4 days a week?
I spent a lot of time just thinking and running through ideas in my head too.
As for motivation, my deadline was approaching, and I really wanted something fun for my students, so I think that was the greatest motivation.
Then, when I was hitting a wall, I reached out to other people, coworkers, and the Escape Wizards!
Q3. What was your favorite part of working on this game?
Hahahaha! Honestly, TRULY, my favorite part was THINKING about the puzzles and imagining how my students would react.
My coworkers can attest to my devious chuckles at random moments throughout the day.^^
Getting so close to finished, then realizing something wasn't going to work, then reprinting. I didn't like losing that time or the resources.
Q4. What did your students think of the game?
They thought it was hard, but asked me to NOT make it easier next year.
However, the number of clues in the room confused some of my younger students.
Next time I think I will split the game across three rooms, that way, the students won't be confused about which clues to reference for each lock.
Q5. What worked?
1) Set up. When you see the pictures, you'll notice I had placed low-tack tape on the board so that students could realize they were allowed to moved the cards around. I began leaving the center one to give them a head-start.
I made sure the EFL students understood N/S/E/W, and demonstrated HOW to open the first lock. MANY Korean students had never seen a directional lock before. They loved it. Even if they decided to give up, they still wanted to try to open it.
2) Ghostlegs. All my students knew how to play this game. I had complicated it too much by removing the answer of order, and only allowing them to learn the pets' names. At that point, it was too challenging, but if this step is in a new location, the students will be able to leave old clues behind and use new ones.
Q6. What was your favorite part of the day?
There were only 6 teams that completely finished the WHOLE game without any cheating! They were so proud of themselves!
Q7. What didn't work?
1) Real rooms and clue rooms. I had 6 rooms, each with a full game ready to go. Next year, I will use 3 rooms per game, running through 2 sets of the same game, and move the students to the next location for each lock.
I think my castle room cards had too many clues for my younger students. Many of them jumped to "time" and tried to use the clocks in their first challenge. Separating the clues by location and lock would help them, and I would still be able to run the students through all the rooms, one team after another, reducing the amount of traffic in other areas of the school.
(My plan to lock the kids up for crowd control actually worked!)
2) Pencil cases. My pencil cases were soft and flexible. MANY of my young teams were able to open the case without opening the lock. Pretty smart kids, huh?
3) Cable ties & scissors. Some young students pulled each other too much and chaffed their friend's wrist. After noticing this, I simply put the cable tie on one wrist to signify they were 'caught.' HOWEVER, I neglected to ask if they were right or left handed. I had a student successfully finish the game, but tried to use the scissors with her left hand (her friends didn't help her at the time) and the scissors pinched her arm near the handles.
They thought the handcuffs were fun, but I will do that differently next year, for safety's sake.
4) Intro Video...… I forgot all about it. (Shh, don't tell my coworkers, who worked hard to make it with me.)
Since I had 6 games running, and only one phone, and that was soon taken by my 'photographer,' I simply had to describe what happened to my students, and told them what they needed to do. That MAY have had an impact on their success rates, but as I was seeing what kind of hints they needed, I worked harder to be clearer with my instructions.
Next year, I will definitely have them watch the intro video, especially while I 'reset' a room.
Q8. Did any of your students struggle with the game?
Oh yes, but I walked them through the process, giving them hints.
Many of them haven't learned how to think critically or how to solve these kinds of puzzles, so many of the younger students needed my help.
Q9. What memorable stories came out of the day?
Mmm. When some students gave up to try a different Halloween activity, they would ask other teachers for hints ...
... but the other teachers didn't know either and were giving them wrong information!!!
And another teacher, who had tried one of my early versions of the game, came in with one team promising she knew how to solve it and totally led her students down the wrong path. Hahahahah! (Definitely an evil laugh here!)
Q10. How did you manage running multiple games at once?
By the grace of God.
In retrospect, running around is exactly what I was doing - I didn't get a break the whole day!
Q11. Got any tips and tricks?
If running a game like this for your whole day, require another helper OR plan shut down times.
Yes, you will be crazy all day, but one extra helper (or a planned shut-down) would definitely allow you to take a quick break and also take more photos.
A helper could also make sure students can watch the intro video ahead of time.
Q12. What will you remember about this day in years to come?
Most teams could not finish completely or gave up, but six teams finished all the way to the end!! They were super proud of themselves. I had a lot of fun giving hints and hearing my students voice their 'Ah-ha' moments.
But I think we started a tradition.
I don't think this will be a memory as much as it will be a beginning.
Can I be a wizard too? What kind of magical title fits me?
Welcome to the order...
Dani - The Chuckling Puzzlemage!
Want a magical title of your own?
Send the High Wizards your game modification or epic escape room party pictures. The best submissions will be hand-picked to appear on our website!
Want to just 'get it done'? Try one of our printable escape room kits:
Dani didn't start out as a Chuckling Puzzlemage.
First, she got the hang of hosting an escape room by running her class through 'The Lost Mummy'
Dip your toes into the exciting world of devious escape room masterminds with The Lost Mummy escape room kit.
Just download, print, and party.