Escape rooms have become popular world wide, captivating the minds of puzzle enthusiasts, families, friends and even children. But what if I told you that you can build your own escape room right in your living room, using nothing more than everyday objects and a dash of creativity?
In this blog post, you’ll explore ten escape room puzzles that can be crafted from the simplest of things. From household items you probably have lying around to items readily available at your local dollar store.
Get ready for an unforgettable journey as I share ideas how ordinary objects can take you on a thrilling escape room experience like no other.
Whether you’re a seasoned escape room enthusiast or a newcomer looking to dip your toes into the world of puzzles, codes and mystery, the ideas below are your ticket to unlocking the secrets of DIY escape room adventures.
Get ready to turn a simple room into an arena of intrigue and suspense – let the adventure begin… You have one hour!
How to Build Your Own Escape Room at Home?
Creating an escape room has never been easier. With the collection of ten escape room puzzles described below you can build your own escape room in no time.
To start an escape room you need to decide on a theme, or storyline. Is the escape room for a birthday party or holiday? Whatever you choose you can then add details or decorations in the room to fit your theme.
Once you have a theme, choose your puzzles. The ten escape room puzzle ideas below can easily be used together to create a great escape room game. You can also switch out one, or a few of the puzzles for other escape room puzzles. A few extra blank puzzle ideas can be found here: 7 DIY Escape Room Puzzles
I generally suggest using at least 5-10 puzzles for your escape room. If you have young children, or groups that have never done an escape room you can consider removing a few of the puzzles from your game. As long as each puzzle leads players to the next puzzle then your game will work.
Decide if you are going to offer clues if players are stuck, and how many. Also decide how long you are going to give players to solve the game. Typically one hour is a good amount of time for an escape room. However, you can keep the game fun and stress free by not setting a time limit at all. It’s up to you.
Make sure that all of the puzzles and materials you use are safe for your group. Make sure to place the clues in locations that are safe and appropriate for the players. An adult, or ‘game master’, will remain with players as they solve the room.
For a few more ideas as you build your own escape room, check out Make Your Own Escape Room and one of my most popular escape room games – Free Escape Room for Kids that you can print and play in minutes.
Build Your Own Escape Room Puzzle #1
The first clue for your build your own escape room game is created using a write and wipe board, marker and permanent marker.
Create a message for players to read. On its own the message does not seem like a clue, however, once players realize they need to wipe the board off, they are left with a few letters. These are the letters that have been written in permanent marker. The rest of the message wipes off because it was written in write and wipe marker.
The letters left over, when put together tell players where to look for their next clue. In this case, the ‘couch’ is where players will search next.
Players may not know to wipe the board off right away, however, resist helping players and giving clues right away. Part of an escape room is players trying different strategies and making mistakes as they solve the puzzles. Plus it is really rewarding once they figure the puzzles out on their own.
Build Your Own Escape Room Puzzle #2
If you are using the puzzles in the order I have shown here as you build your own escape room, place this puzzle, the puzzle pieces, in or around a couch.
This second puzzle is really simple to create, and all you need is a marker and a puzzle, any puzzle will do. Start by putting the puzzle together, and then printing words, or codes on the back of the pieces. Make sure to put them in order so that it makes sense once the puzzle is put together.
On this puzzle, there are three numbers on pieces side by side that are the code for a lock in the room. Once the puzzle is put together players have to flip the pieces and read the letters/numbers in order.
Build Your Own Escape Room Puzzle #3
This puzzle can go inside a small, locked box. For ideas for a DIY lock box, check out “How to Make an Escape Room Lock Box“.
This puzzle requires players to read and draw lines on a graph/table. The page with the numbers and letters shown below is available for free to subscribers to Hands-On Teaching Ideas. More information on how to download can be found at the end of this post.
Decide what your message will be for players and then use a ruler to match the letter/number combination. Place your ruler connecting the two letters/numbers and print the first letter in your message for players to solve.
Write down all of the letter/number codes for players. Give them a ruler to then connect them in the order you wrote down. Each combination of letters/numbers will cross through one letter (that you previously wrote down).
As players connect the letters/numbers they will be left with a word(s) telling where their next clue is.
This clue in the example tells players to check the main door. When they look around the door, they will find the jumbo popsicle sticks.
Build Your Own Escape Room Puzzle #4
All you need for this puzzle are jumbo popsicle sticks, sticker dots and a marker. Include a clue with the sticks, to ‘line up the blue dots’ (or something similar).
Once the dots are lined up, a group of letters also line up to spell ‘eleven’. You can use as many popsicle sticks as you want in order to spell out any message.
For my escape room, eleven is the last two digits of a lock.
Build Your Own Escape Room Puzzle #5
This escape room puzzle is a lot of fun to make. Grab a piece of Styrofoam, or any material that you can insert toothpicks into. Color a circle around the base of where you will insert the toothpick. Make each circle a different color.
Give players a color code. Players use an elastic to connect the colored circles. For example, dark blue to turquoise will give players the top left part of the number four.
Once all of the elastics are on, players will get a number, or letter to lead them to their next clue.
If you don’t have enough colors to make a different colored circle on each spot, you can put numbers. For example, instead of dark blue to turquoise, players would connect number one to eleven to start.
How to Make an Escape Room at Home Puzzle #6
Puzzle #6 is a fun way to incorporate technology into your escape room. There are lots of free QR code creators online. Create a code for players to scan with a phone that either leads them to a website with an answer or include a message as part of the code title.
Build Your Own Escape Room #7
Wooden letters from board games can be fun to add to your escape room game. The board shown below is available to be downloaded for free, from Hands-On Teaching Ideas Free Resource Library. (More information below).
Print letter for the words you want players to create on the board. Give wooden letters to fill in each of the printed words, as well as extras that don’t have a place on the board. These leftover pieces are a code for the next clue.
Players will be left with a few pieces that they then have to unscramble to find the next clue. In the example above, the word TEN is the clue.
DIY Escape Room Puzzles #8
Clue #8 only requires two sheets of paper and a marker. The strip of paper (yellow in photo) includes a line of letters that make a clue. The blue sheet has a few cuts in it where the yellow sheet is inserted.
Cut a small square between where the yellow sheet will go through so that it highlights one letter at a time.
Print the letters for your clue so that they are clear when the strip of paper is pulled through the blue sheet. In the example clue, the word ‘table’ is clear when the yellow sheet is pulled through.
Add other letters on the page to ‘hide’ the clue.
Escape Room for Kids #9
For this clue you need a collection of wooden building blocks. They can be any shape of blocks, but you want to make sure that you have enough to create your clue. At first glance the blocks don’t look like they contain a clue, but then the letters and numbers on the side become clear.
The blocks need to be stacked, or lined up so that they are in order from 1-10, (or however many letters in your clue.)
Once the numbers are lined up, players will also notice that on the other side of the numbers there are letters that now line up and reveal a code. In the example, players need to “check phone” for their next clue.
Build Your Own Escape Room at Home #10
If you use this clue as your final clue, it works well to open a treasure chest lock. Inside you can place a final prize or certificate.
When players check the phone, as revealed in the last clue, the phone can tell players to fold the final page in equal parts so that there are seven sections (or however many sections your need for your clue.)
Without folding, the page looks like a mess of numbers, lines and arrows. When folded, however, four numbers become clear and have arrows pointing to them. Numbers 342 and 8 are the final code.
Setting Up Your Room
Once you have each of the puzzles created, set the pieces around the room for players to find, and solve. Put on some suspenseful music and set the timer!
Escape rooms are a great chance to practice problem solving, determination and team work. They can be used in a classroom, home or with any group of people.
The more puzzles you add, the more complicated the escape room becomes. Keep in mind that when you build your own escape room it doesn’t have to be perfect. Have fun and enjoy the process.
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More Escape Room Ideas for Kids
If you want to keep the fun of escape rooms going, check out these other popular escape room games and activities from Hands-On Teaching Ideas. There are lots of free printables to make your own escape room, printable escape rooms for kids and even simple puzzle ideas for many more escape rooms for you to create in your own space.