PART 1: Materials
The first thing teachers want to know is what materials they need to begin using Breakout Games in their classrooms. If you are just getting started, I would suggest trying one of my Breakout Games with your classes before you purchase materials - just to make sure that it is something that you are into before you buy a bunch of materials. I created my games so that they can be used without all of the trappings of typical Breakout Games, but the thrill of breaking into those boxes is definitely part of the allure.
When it comes to materials, you have a couple of options. You can purchase a ready-made kit from the fine folks at Breakout EDU. You can also piece together your own kit. I find it to be more cost-effective to create my own kits (plus I'm just really addicted to Amazon), but the benefit of purchasing the Breakout EDU kit is that you have the official logo on all your goodies. Whichever you decide on, here is what I consider the essentials...
A lot of teachers ask how they can fund this type of thing. While it is not as expensive as an iPad, it does come at an expense. The good news is that these materials will last. They are not something that you will need to purchase over and over again.
I originally funded my project through a grant given by my school district for creative instructional strategies. It was a small grant and I quickly found that to maximize student engagement I would need to run several groups at a time (each tackling the same game). This meant that I would need 2 more identical sets of the materials you see above. I received that funding through Donors Choose.
I have also gotten a lot of support from local escape room owners. I reached out to many of them when I first started the project, explained what I was doing, and asked them for advice/suggestions. They really opened up some great opportunities for me and my students. They let me come in and try their games, they donated money and supplies, and they also offered discounts to other teachers who wanted to try this in their classrooms.
Once you have the materials (and the money to buy them), it's time to find some games. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of games available for Spanish. You can find a few on the Breakout EDU website. They are fine for starter games, but I found that they weren't quite as skill dependent as I wanted. Of course their catalogue is constantly growing.
Another option is to create games yourself. You can base them on a particular theme or unit, a book or movie, or a particular tradition. With a creative eye, anything can become a Breakout Game. I will get into game creation a bit more in a future blog post, but Pinterest is a great place to start. I have put together a whole board of things I have found helpful on my own Breakout Game journey. Feel free to follow it by clicking HERE!
If you want to save yourself the time and trouble, you can try one of my Breakout Games. My games are built on a specific theme (family, school, health, weather, etc) and they are editable as well. This means that you can see how I have created these games and use my formatting and set up to then try your hand at creating your own.
Everyone wants to know what are the benefits of using Breakout Games with your students. I can honestly say that these games are, by far, the best activities that I have done with my students in perhaps my whole career. Here are some of the best things about Breakout Games:
- HIGH levels of student engagement
- Motivates students to learn content knowing that game will be dependent on it
- Uses higher-order thinking skills
- Increases problem-solving ability (your students will be NOTICEABLY better problem solvers)
- Helps students learn to work with one another towards a common goal
- The games force thinking outside of the box and looking at things from different perspectives
- Fosters positive relationships
- Encourages students to work through frustration and THINK
- It is FUN for both the students and the teacher