Have you ever tried an escape room? A few years ago I tried one with a group of friends. It was a great experience and I loved it! I remember telling my kids all about it and the escape room puzzles that we had to solve. They had so many questions and were beyond intrigued.
My kids loved the idea of escape rooms, so I decided to create one for them. The holidays were around the corner so timing worked out that an escape room at home was a great idea. I had lots of ideas for puzzles, so I created our first one. After that, my kids were hooked!
We do a lot of escape rooms and puzzles at home – especially with all of the extra time being spent at home right now.
At first I thought that making escape rooms would be really complicated – both to create and for kids to complete, but I was wrong!
If you have never created an escape room before, I think you will find that they are surprisingly simple to put together. The best place to start is by looking at lots of escape rooms, like the ones below, to gather ideas for puzzles/clues.
To make it even easier if you are thinking about creating an escape room, I have created a list of our 5 best DIY escape rooms for kids.
Beyond the excitement and thrill of working on an escape room, they are also great for team building and cooperation. Children learn problem solving and critical thinking skills. As a teacher, this learning part of escape rooms makes my heart happy.
The 5 best DIY escape rooms for kids below, include several ideas to create escape rooms at home, a birthday themed room and even one to try in a classroom setting.
If you only have a few minutes to set up an escape room, there are also downloadable rooms available that can be printed, set up in minutes and done in (almost) any house!
Plus, I have also included a list of 40 puzzles to pick and choose puzzles that work for you!
Make sure to always supervise children when doing escape rooms. Use puzzles that are age appropriate, safe and placed in a location that is safe for the children doing the escape room.
Setting Up Your Escape Room
So you have decided to create an escape room. Now what?
Choose and Create the Puzzles
First you need some puzzles to put in your escape room. Typically, six to ten puzzles are ideal. Choose puzzles that seem interesting to you – and you know your kids will enjoy.
Escape rooms don’t have to be expensive. You can choose puzzles that use simple materials that you already have at home.
If you don’t have some of the materials for the escape room you want to create, don’t worry! You can still create the room and either eliminate the clue or substitute another clue, from other escape rooms, using materials that you do have.
Connect the Puzzles
Once you have your puzzles, you just need to lead one clue to the next. If you are using the escape room for something special, like a birthday, you can choose puzzles that follow your theme, such as balloons.
Hide the Puzzles
Place each of your clues in a safe location. The harder you hide the clues the more challenging the room will be.
For example, for young children, or kids who have never done escape rooms before, you can leave several of the puzzles visible, so they are not hunting to find the clue, and only focusing on solving the puzzles.
If you want the increase the challenge of the room, place the clue in a hidden location. For example, if a clue leads to a couch, you can tape it under the couch versus simply setting it on the couch.
You can choose one room to do the escape room in, or you can use the whole house. Although it is an escape room, never actually lock any doors. Keep it fun and exciting.
Begin and Set the Timer
When I do an escape room, I usually set a timer for 60 minutes. This does add to the excitement, but if it is your first escape room and want to keep it relaxed and just for fun, you don’t have to have to set a time restraint.
Choose your puzzles and create your escape room to lead to something special, like a present or special note. Or the final location may simply be a certificate for completing the room. (Available for free to download here.)
A Few Tips
A big part of the challenge is finding the clues, and the other part is then solving them. You can decide how much help to give players/children when doing the room. A little hint is always okay.
Escape rooms can either be done with a group of players or it can be done by one person to solve on their own. Your choice!
Escape rooms are great to do as a family, because even young children can participate and help find and solve puzzles. My kids were 6 and 8 when we did our first escape room.
Most important of all – Have fun with it! You may find you enjoying watching your kids solve the puzzles as much as they do.
Make sure to supervise children when doing escape rooms. Kids tends to get very excited when doing the rooms.
Below are our top 5 escape rooms for kids. You can mix clues from the rooms to create your own escape room. Click on the top image from each room to visit the full description of the room.
Escape Room #1
This was my first escape room that I created. It is a great introduction to escape rooms and includes a variety of puzzles commonly found in escape rooms. We set the timer and my kids searched to find, and solve, clues.
One of the fun things about this room is that there are several puzzles visible as soon as you enter the room. Players need to figure out the significance of each and what their clue means and leads to.
This room involves over 10 puzzles and uses the setting of a bedroom to create a fun, challenge.
To me, this room has all of the traditional elements of an escape room. With the use of locks, keys, and invisible clues it has all the things you expect in an escape room.
Escape Room #2
This is a wonderfully colourful escape room! It also includes several of our all time favourite escape room puzzles. The clues mainly use simple materials from around the house, but a few add some extra complexity and challenge.
This room is perfect for players who have a basic idea of how escape rooms work. This is a great hands-on experience for players of all ages.
One of my kids favourite clues is the “No Shaking” jar. Inside the jar is coloured water which hides a small key.
Using a magnet found at the previous clue, players use the magnet to attach to, and drag the key out of the water and jar through a small opening in the back of the jar.
Escape Room #3
Our next escape room was perfect for a quiet weekend at home. We had planned to watch a new movie in the evening which was a surprise for my kids. We used the escape room to lead to coupons for the movie.
It filled our day and made the movie even more exciting!
This room incorporates a cell phone. There is a unlock code on the door players see before entering the room. This clue ended up being much more of a challenge than I had expected because my kids didn’t think that the phone was part of the room.
This is something that I always love about escape rooms that I create. There are always a few puzzles that I add thinking that they will be easy and solved quickly, that end up being a challenge.
It reminds me that everyone thinks differently and will solve the problems in different ways based on their understanding of the puzzle and even their prior knowledge of similar puzzles.
Escape Room #4
If you are using an escape room to celebrate a special occasion, like a birthday, this escape room is ideal! The clues are party themed and can easily be used with a group of children or just for the birthday child.
You don’t need a dog to do this birthday themed room – but how cute is our dog Lily? We used our furry friend because she always wants to be part of our games, and was proud to hold a key as she joined us in the room. It was a fun clue.
A stuffed animal would do the trick for the clue if you don’t have a dog.
This birthday escape room uses birthday themed puzzles and items that would often be on hand for parties. It is a great way to celebrate!
Escape Room #5
After seeing how much my own kids loved escape rooms at home, I created one to use at school in my classroom with my students. The puzzles are perfect for teaching children to problem solve and work together.
Although I used this escape room at school, the puzzles could still be used as an escape room puzzle at home. Solve questions, one by one, to open the locks and crack open the treasure box.
I love taking a less than exciting activity, such as test review, and finding a way to make it exciting and engaging. In my experience, kids learn best this way.
I put a small treat/prize for all of my students in the box. I secured the box with a bunch of locks. The challenge comes from having a variety of questions to solve. Each answer lead us to a location in the school which held our next key.
Once we had the location, we searched the location to find our key. Each key then opened one part of the box. Once all of the questions were answered correctly, the treasure was revealed.
One of the things that I love about this classroom escape room is that it is low prep. There is only the locked box for materials. This allowed me to use this puzzle several times in my classroom.
Looking for an Escape Room to do NOW?
Print and Go – No Materials Needed Escape Rooms
Looking for an escape room to do today, or one that you can set up in a few minutes without any keys, locks or special materials? These printable escape rooms are perfect for family fun around the house.
Download, print and spend 5-10 minutes preparing and hiding clues around your house. There are a variety of puzzles in each escape room product that can be done in (virtually) any home.
The pages are the puzzles so you don’t need any extra materials from around your house or that you need to purchase. They are perfect for family fun!
The other advantage to these print and go escape rooms is that they can easily been done with other families in a different home. Each household can print and hide the puzzles at their house, then everyone starts the timer at the same time and compete to see which household finishes first.
40 Puzzles for Escape Rooms
There are lots of puzzles in the escape rooms above; however, if you are looking for more ideas, click the image below to check out a list of 40 escape room puzzles.
They are not tied together to create a room. They are simply a huge list of awesome clues to make up your escape room.
Materials for Escape Rooms
There are a few materials that are perfect for escape rooms. For my escape rooms, I will sometimes add an interesting, new puzzle that my kids have not seen before. This definitely adds to the challenge as they learn the new puzzle.
A few of our favourite materials for escape rooms are available below.
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More Hands-On Activities for Kids
If your kids enjoy escape rooms, there are lots of other hands-on activities that can be done at home, or the classroom, with simple materials. A few of my most popular activities are found below. Simply click on the image for a full activity description.