What’s the Deal with Escape Rooms Anyway?

Is your Pinterest feed flooded with activities for counseling escape rooms? What’s the deal with escape rooms anyway? If you’re curious about trying out these fun, hands-on activities, keep reading to learn more about what they are and why you should be doing them in your school counseling program!

Are counseling escape rooms flooding your pinterest feed? What's the deal with these anyway? Escape rooms are fun, cooperative, problem-solving activities to get students up, moving, cooperating, and thinking critically in classroom guidance or small group counseling!

Counseling Escape Rooms

What are they?

Escape rooms are critical thinking, hands-on experiences in which participants are trying to “escape” from some scenario. Escape room businesses have popped up all over the country and are a huge hit with adults and kids! I’m not sure who started using them in education, but bravo to them!

In an escape room, participants are informed of a scenario and given a time limit to solve puzzles that will help them to escape the room or scenario. Puzzles include cyphers or secret codes and may give clues to hidden objects around the room. Basically it’s a cooperative, time-limited activity that is perfectly adaptable to all counseling or academic topics!

Here’s an example scenario from an empathy escape room: Oh no! You and your classmates have gotten stuck in the Self-Involved Spiral! Swirling around and around toward your own emotions and perspectives, you’ve forgotten to consider other people’s feelings. Solve these puzzles to find your secret code words and to earn hearts. These code words and hearts will help you to escape the Self-Involved Spiral and get to the Land of Empathy, where we seek to understand how others are feeling through their own eyes. 

Are counseling escape rooms flooding your pinterest feed? What's the deal with these anyway? Escape rooms are fun, cooperative, problem-solving activities to get students up, moving, cooperating, and thinking critically in classroom guidance or small group counseling!

Why should I use them?

Promote Cooperation

Your students will have to work together to solve the puzzles. There will be portions of the activity that are right up one student’s alley while others may struggle a bit. This is a great opportunity for students to test out their leadership skills. Before you begin, review what it looks like to work cooperatively and effectively. Discuss things like:

  • giving everyone a chance to share
  • disagreeing without criticizing
  • being open to everyone’s ideas
  • making suggestions vs. telling others what to do
  • encouraging one another
  • celebrating each other’s accomplishments

Encourage Critical Thinking

The puzzles require critical thinking in order to solve secret messages or find hidden objects. Your students will have to think outside the box to problem solve and find what they’re looking for. They may be using a cypher to solve a secret message, searching for something around the room with given clues, or unscrambling letters to find a code word. Each task requires that they try various strategies and think critically to move on.

Get Students Moving

We all know students learn best by doing. Get them out of their seats and using their hands to explore whatever topic you’re teaching! They’ll love moving about the room and playing a “game” to learn about whatever you’re teaching.

Are counseling escape rooms flooding your pinterest feed? What's the deal with these anyway? Escape rooms are fun, cooperative, problem-solving activities to get students up, moving, cooperating, and thinking critically in classroom guidance or small group counseling!

What You’ll Need:

Introductory Scenario

Whatever your topic, you’ll need an introductory scenario to hook your students. Like the example above, you will need to explain the place or situation the students are escaping from and give them a few quick tips for success. Let them know what will be expected of them during the activity (revisit the cooperative skills mentioned above) or give them any hints they may need to solve your specific puzzles.

Clear Directions

For each step of the escape room, you’ll need clear directions for your students to follow so they know what to do next. These may be verbal instructions or typed instructions, but make sure there’s never a point where they don’t know what their next step or challenge is to create a smoothly-running activity.

Sequential Puzzles

You’ll need 3-5 puzzles for the students to solve on your topic. If you’re working with a small group, you can have the group work together on one puzzle at a time before moving on to the next. Ideally, each puzzle will reveal some clue or valuable information that leads to the next puzzle. If you’re working with a whole class, you may want to break students into small groups and give each small group a different puzzle and have them work in a circular order. Either way, you’ll need clever, engaging puzzles that will get your students up, moving, and cooperating!

A Final Challenge

Once students have solved the puzzles, give them some sort of final challenge to help them ultimately escape! For example, in a friendship escape room, students earn a gold coin with a word on it after solving each puzzle. Their final challenge is to arrange the gold coins to create a sentence with a final message about friendship.

Are counseling escape rooms flooding your pinterest feed? What's the deal with these anyway? Escape rooms are fun, cooperative, problem-solving activities to get students up, moving, cooperating, and thinking critically in classroom guidance or small group counseling!

So what do you think?! Sounds like fun, right? Have you tried counseling escape rooms yet? What did your students think? Let me know in the comments section! And if you’re looking for a fun way to kick off next school year with your students and teach them more about what you do as the counselor (and dispel a few myths), check out this meet the counselor escape room activity!

Happy Counseling! -Counselor Keri

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Are counseling escape rooms flooding your pinterest feed? What's the deal with these anyway? Escape rooms are fun, cooperative, problem-solving activities to get students up, moving, cooperating, and thinking critically in classroom guidance or small group counseling!

 

Are counseling escape rooms flooding your pinterest feed? What's the deal with these anyway? Escape rooms are fun, cooperative, problem-solving activities to get students up, moving, cooperating, and thinking critically in classroom guidance or small group counseling! Are counseling escape rooms flooding your pinterest feed? What's the deal with these anyway? Escape rooms are fun, cooperative, problem-solving activities to get students up, moving, cooperating, and thinking critically in classroom guidance or small group counseling!

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