Breakout Games and Inquiry in the Classroom — Part 1

As many of you know, there is a great desire for teachers to implement inquiry based learning in their  classrooms. Watching your students come up with questions, find solutions and solve problems is what inquiry is all about. Having a fun hands on approach to inquiry based learning is both fun for teachers to watch and valuable in student learning. 
This past school year my students participated in a breakout box game. This game was filled with mathematical thinking, logic questions, and coming up with answers to questions that may not have been taught in our classroom before. That was the tricky part, but with a little assistance, my kids were successful and engaged for longer than they had been before. 

How do I begin?

The beginning part was actually easier than I thought it would be. I have a classroom full of grade 3 students. Most had never even used a lock before, not to mention the many, many different locks that I had purchased to make the breakout box possible. 
In order to set up my students for success, I had set up the classroom mystery from the beginning. I sent an envelope to my office before school started and gave them specific instructions to deliver it (or call into my room asking for a student to come pick it up from the office) at a certain time. 
When one of my kiddos went to the office to pick it up, I had to play it up a little bit. The dialogue went something like this…
*Student walks into the classroom SO excited about what he has*
Me: What did the office have?
ME: Oh, that’s really strange. Oh well. We can just open it up later.
Whole Class: NOOOO! We need to open it now! I want to know what is inside! 
Me: But we have so much work to do?
Class: (Insert several argumentative comments)
Me: Okay, but then we will have to work on this later.. 
Class: Okay! YAAAYYYY!
Haha, it really does pump them up when they think that there is a chance you won’t let them find out what is in the mystery envelope. 

What is Inside the Envelope?

Inside the mystery envelope I had 2 different things. 
  1. Spy Note Books
  2. USB with Spy Training

The spy note books were handed out to each student. 

The spy notebooks were super easy to assemble. They come with boy and girl spy characters. All you have to do is print the covers, print the inside note pages and staple them together. One click slice and you have 2 spy training note books!

I saved the presentation onto my USB as – “for spy eyes only!” and of course the kids were going nuts! They wanted to open it asap, which of course we did!

Spy Training:

Spy training was amazing. My class was engaged to a level that I almost never see. It wasn’t just a majority of the class, it was every single student. The students that have a hard time writing were writing so much, and quickly so that they didn’t miss anything. 
Spy training is an {editable} powerpoint presentation that explains to students how to use the many different locks that you will be using in your breakout games.  Spy training gives students hints about how to use the locks and things to look for when they are solving the clues. This is great, especially for first time breakout box users. This will help your students to understand more of what to look for and find when solving their mysteries. 
When you open up the spy training powerpoint, you will be greeted by a mysterious character. Mr. Westlock guides you through the training and offers helpful tips and advice as you advance through the training slides. 
These are the locks that are included in the training presentation.
Once students have completed their spy training, they are awarded with a certificate of completion. 
(The certificate is editable so you can type in your student names or add your name instead of 
Mr. Westlock’s name). 
Spy training was a huge success in my classroom. If you have any questions, you can send me an email at holly@appleyeverafter.com. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Breakout Game Blog Series! 

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One Comment

  • This is so exciting, Holly! I have the clipart and the spy training, now to figure out how to best use it. Thank you. I look forward to the next part of the blog series.

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