Go on an adventure in your own home, with this DIY escape room for kids. If you are looking for a creative, engaging activity to try, make your own escape room! The steps below make creating your own escape game easy and straightforward. Plus I’ve included the featured printables for FREE in my resource library. Keep reading for lots of escape room ideas to create the ultimate escape room at home!
An escape room or escape game, is similar to a board game in terms of strategizing and working toward a goal. However, it is different because it is hands-on, requires teamwork and each puzzle solved takes you in a new direction.
It is a great experience for children of all ages, families and even worth trying in the classroom. It is also a lot of fun for parties and special occasions.
Escape rooms require problem solving, thinking outside the box, critical thinking, collaboration with others and much more. Beyond all of the learning benefits, escape rooms are simply fun and exciting!
For more escape room ideas and DIY escape room puzzles check out other games from Hands-On Teaching Ideas.
- 40 Escape Room Ideas at Home
- 49+ Escape Room Puzzle Ideas
- 7 Free Escape Room Puzzles
- Free Printable Escape Room
- Free Printable Escape Room for Young Kids
Creating Your Escape Room
To make an escape room at home, simply choose a collection of puzzles that are interesting to you, and the kids who will do the escape room, and then decide a way to lead one clue to the next. Typically you will need at least five puzzles to create a room.
The more puzzles you add, the longer and more challenging the escape room will be. There are also different ways to make a puzzle more challenging for older kids or for a larger group.
Below I share with you my latest DIY escape room for kids with all of the steps and puzzle ideas you need to create an amazing escape room in your own home.
All of the printable pages that you see in this DIY escape room are available for FREE through the link at the bottom of the page.
Prepare and Make Your Own Escape Room
Below I have described how to set up each of the puzzles in the game. Instructions on how to play and solve the game can be found below the preparation instructions.
Welcome Letter Clue
There are a few ways that you can prepare your escape room puzzles. When I create an escape room I try to use materials that I already have on hand. It doesn’t need to be expensive.
Start with the welcome letter. I have included this printable, and all of the printables you see for free (link at bottom). However, I have also given you some options.
The welcome letter can be printed in black and white or it can be printed in color with an ‘aged’ background. Choose which you like best.
I decided to use the black and white page because I wanted to have some fun making the page look fancy and old. I am very happy with how it turned out and it was so easy!
Start with a tea bag and put it in warm water. Next, squeeze the tea bag a few times so that the bag is soaked. Then squeeze the bag onto the letter. Let the water pool on some places on the letter. Set aside and let the brown color soak into the paper.
I also opened the tea bag and put some of the ground tea leaves in places on the letter. I then ripped a few spots and crumpled the note. My kids loved the result!
Escape Room Ideas – Popsicle Stick Puzzle
The next clue to prepare are the popsicle sticks. Popsicle sticks are a great material to use for escape room puzzles because they are cheap and easy to work with.
I started by taping the popsicle sticks together to make them flat. Next, I painted all of them white. You don’t need to paint them white, it just makes the picture stand out more.
Next, I painted a picture of 4 balloons onto the popsicle sticks. If you don’t have balloons, simply paint a picture of wherever players should look for their next clue.
Cut out the numbers from the (free) printable and attach them on the bottom of the popsicle sticks. The order, which is found on the bottom of the welcome letter is, 591462837.
The sticks can be placed anywhere in the room. I wrapped mine in black cloth and hid it in one of the flameless candle holders so that it was the only holder that was not glowing.
Escape Room Ideas – Balloon Clue
There are four shapes/pieces to cut out and put inside the balloons. You can choose to put all of the pieces into one balloon or one piece in each balloon.
Blow up and tie the balloons and this clue is ready to go.
DIY Escape Room for Kids – Puzzle Clue
The puzzle clue page can simply be set out for players to find right away, or it can be hidden somewhere in the room.
If you have young players I suggest making this page easy to find. If, however, you want to add to the challenge the puzzle page can be hidden somewhere that requires players to search the room in order to find.
Playdough Escape Room Idea
We had lots of playdough around our house, so I wanted to use it for a clue. I used five containers, however, you only need one for the game. The more containers, the more players have to search to find the clue.
Using alphabet beads hide the letters DOOR in one of the containers/playdough.
Key and Locked Box clue
Tape the key to the locked box to a door. You can tape it to the door frame or anywhere around a door.
Inside the locked box is a paper roll with strips of paper on it. Print the strips (from the free printables included) and draw on different numbers. This is for the final number lock.
Each lock is different, so you will need to add in your locks number. Add in other numbers that don’t match up to make it more challenging. The code for my number lock is 475 which you can see in the example below.
Lock up the final chest / box. You can put the escape room certificate inside it along with a small prize or anything you want!
You can also add some fun materials to make the room more interesting, such as black cloths, flameless candles, music and anything else that you have on hand that would fit an escape room theme.
To help you when setting up the game, I have included a quick list of the order of the clues to help make sure that you have each of the puzzles set up. This is available with all of the printables.
Now that you have everything set up, you are ready to play!
Playing the Game
You have one hour to escape! The timer is ticking.
When entering the room, the first thing you see is a welcome note along with some candles. You also notice that there are a few other items in the room that weren’t there before.
You read the clue and notice the numbers along the bottom. 591462837. What could they mean? You search the room, but don’t see any numbers that could relate.
Then, you notice that one of the tealight holders is not glowing like the rest of them. You look inside and find nine popsicle sticks.
You unwrap them and notice color and numbers on one side. Numbers! This must connect with the numbers on the welcome letter. You put the sticks in the order and you’ve got it!
Add a Challenge
Make this clue more challenging by leaving out the numbers on the bottom. You can also cut the numbers off the welcome letter.
Together the popsicle sticks create a picture with 4 balloons. You start searching the room again and find a bunch of balloons. You remember that the balloons on the sticks are blue, so you start with the blue balloons.
As you shake the balloons you notice that there is something inside of them.
You pop all of the blue balloons and are left with four shapes with arrows on them. Another clue that does not make sense – yet! Back to searching the room to find something to connect to this.
You peek under a cushion and there’s a page with similar looking shapes and letters on it.
Add a challenge to the Escape Room Puzzle
You can make this puzzle really challenging by hiding this puzzle page in a place that players are going to really have to search to find. Tape it to the underside of a chair or fold it and hide it in something in the room.
You use the shapes from the balloons and match them up on the sheet from under the cushion.
The arrows line up and point to specific letters. The letters unscramble to say PLAYDOUGH.
You remember seeing playdough in the room when you came in. There were five containers. You search all over the containers but don’t see anything written on them or anything unusual.
So you open one of the containers and take out the playdough. Nothing. You continue through each container until you notice something in one of the playdoughs. Squeezing through the playdough you find letter beads. Take each of the four beads out and unscramble them to spell DOOR.
What door? You quickly check each door in the room. You don’t see anything unusual around the doors so you go back and look closer. Finally, you notice something near the bottom of a door. It’s a key!
You take the key off of the door and realize that it’s not going to open the final chest. Checking under a chair you notice a smaller treasure chest – it’s locked. You try the key and success it opens!
Looking inside you find a bunch of strips on a paper roll. It looks like some numbers but they are cut and scrambled. You start turning the strips and make the number four.
There must be more numbers on here. You keep turning until you have all of the strips lined up to make the number 475.
Escape room ideas for an extra challenge
You can use any lock that you already have including a locker lock or one with three or more numbers. Young children may need extra help to use more difficult locks. You can also make this roll code clue more challenging by not putting the strips on the roll. Players would have to figure out the order and direction of the strips to solve this puzzle.
You look around to notice the locked treasure chest with a number lock on it. You try your number combination and it works! Congratulations, you solved the escape room!
Inside the box is a treat and a escape room certificate of completion! You did it!
Completing Your Escape Room at Home
You did it! Once all of the puzzles have been solved and you have your certificate it is a great chance to take a minute and talk about the room. What parts did kids like? What did they find the most challenging?
I enjoy planning escape rooms because they are something different for my kids to do. As a teacher I love that there is some learning mixed in as well. There is a little bit of spelling with the letter beads and reading the welcome letter. There is also math in the number clues throughout the puzzles.
However, kids will have so much fun running to solve the puzzles that they won’t realize that they are also learning!
Alternate Ideas for Your DIY Escape Room
You can do different things to create a more, or less, challenging room when you make your own escape room. Below are a few ideas if you think your players need an extra challenge.
You can decide if you will give players hints while they play. Limit it to only a few clues for older players or bigger groups.
Children will often ask for a clue as soon as they are stuck. It is better for them to try a few things and make a few mistakes along the way.
The more hints you give the faster players will be able to solve the room. I will often limit hints to three so that players are more careful about when they ask for a hint.
Adding an Extra Challenge
You can also make the room more challenging by adding a red herring. A red herring is like a clue, but its only purpose is to mislead or distract players from the actual clues. In the escape room above, I added the red roses in the vases to throw players off. They assumed that there was some significance to the flowers, but there wasn’t.
You can add things like numbers or letters around the room to throw players off and make the room more challenging.
The number of players doing the escape room will also change how long it takes kids to finish it. The more players doing the escape room the faster the room will get solved. If you think players will finish the room too quickly, you can add a few extra clues.
This list includes over 40 escape room puzzles that you can look through and add to the above DIY escape room.
Free Printable Escape Room Puzzles
Try out the escape room above by using the FREE printables. Make setting up your escape room easy by printing the puzzles featured. Click here to subscribe and receive the FREE escape room kit.
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Make Your Own Escape Room Materials
More Hands-On Teaching Ideas
If you are looking for more fun and engaging learning activities, check out the collection below of some of my most popular and favorite activities.
From 40+ escape room puzzles and printable escape rooms to DIY puzzles for kids and outdoor escape rooms, there is lots to keep kids busy and learning.