Improve Critical Thinking Skills with this Art Escape Room

30 October

I have to tell you, my homeschool co-op kids are loving their escape rooms. Especially now that they are getting good enough to escape every week. That's right, I am actually watching as their critical thinking and group cooperation skills improve! 

So far we have shared a Music Themed Escape Room and a Chemistry Themed Escape Room, and this escape room focused on art. The goal was for the kids to find a painting missing from the gallery before the police showed up and arrested them.


Homeschool Cooperative Art Escape Room


To do this we first set up a mock gallery. Thank goodness for The Metropolitan Museum of Art and their open galleries for that! Not all art is included, but there was more than enough to work with. All of the pictures I used are in the printable pack as well because I also hid clues in them; letters to be exact.

Pictures are Clues in the Art Escape Room

In the end the letters must be unscrambled to locate the missing painting. It was the clues in between that had to get them there, and since the puzzles were not laid out for them it did create a little confusion. That's what it's all about though right, problem solving.


Kids look at art to escape!

Supplies for an Art Escape Room

Steps to Set Up an Art Themed Escape Room

As stated previously, you start by hanging the large pictures on the wall to make the room like a gallery. However, do not hang all of them! The 3 prints by Georges Seurat need to be placed in an envelope and hidden under a table. You can either hide them all together or hide them separately, so you have a couple decoys.

Once those are hidden, you should have 11 more large prints to hang on the wall. 10 of these have letters in them. I wanted to add some extra fun to the escape room by including a black light. Yes, I'm the mom who drug a floor lamp into our homeschool cooperative as a clue; that may not be the strangest thing I've taken to co-op either, Anyhow, since I wanted something to fluoresce with the black light I used a yellow highlighter to write a small number on these 10 in this order:

  1. Vermeer
  2. Van Gogh
  3. Rousseau
  4. Renoir
  5. Munch
  6. Monet
  7. Manet
  8. Gauguin
  9. Degas
  10. Cezanne
Number 11, the Rembrandt, needs a little extra work before hanging. After laminating I wrote over the Rembrandt in highlighter "Follow the Numbers."

The black light clue can make the whole puzzle easier for the kids, but it could also confuse them since they now have numbers and letters. Just remember to help them with hints if they get stuck. If you are choosing to not use a blacklight, you can ignore the above instructions about the highlighter and leave the Rembrandt out as it has no letter and will confuse the students! 

Now you can hang either all 11 (or the 10 with letters if you aren't using the black light) on the walls. If you are using the black light, hang the Rembrandt where the light will shine on it when it is turned on. 

We added fun to our Homeschool Co-op Art Escape Room with a black light.

Using a white crayon, write "Look at the paintings closely" or something that conveys the same idea and gets the kids looking at the paintings closely. Position this near watercolors. I left the paintbrush there, but you could place it somewhere else in the room to increase the difficulty.

Watercolor hidden message for an Art Themed Escape Room.

Somewhere in the room you will need to hide the newspaper clipping and the symbol decoder. I crumpled the newspaper up and left it on a table, so it took them a while to pay attention to it. The decoder was left sticking out of a bunch of papers.

I have also included some little artistic style definitions which I chose to hang near an example of that style. You can choose to use them or not, but I am always trying to add a little more learning! As you can see, I'm also the mom that tries to squeeze in learning everywhere.

Extra Art information included in the escape room printable pack

This should leave you with the final answer sheets, hint needed cards, page to be decoded, and miniature versions of the paintings for the kids to use as comparisons. I included all of these along with the instructions in the kids folder.

Solving the Missing Painting Mystery Escape Room

It didn't take long for the kids to find the hidden message and solve it with watercolors. In fact, there may have been some arguments discussion over who would paint.


As expected, they started examining the paintings with no idea what they were looking for.  It took some time and a hint for them to find the first letter, but once they did there was no stopping them.

Solve the puzzle to Escape the Art Gallery

Of course, they also had to figure out the order to put the letters in. If they had paid close attention to their introductory story, they may have caught that the paintings were generally in a specific order. I wasn't counting on them paying attention to the story though, so I added the black light. 

I waited until they had a good start to turn off the lights and turn on the black light though. They were so excited to see the glowing message! 

The black added an extra fun element to this homeschool escape room

Since I only had a small black light, I allowed them to have 1 painting off the wall at a time. This was the only way they would find the number giving them the order to put the paintings and therefore letters in, unless they really had read the story closely, we will never know.

With the help of a hint, they put the paintings in the right order. They still had a few letters to find. A couple worked on the decoder, and finally, they saw the newspaper clipping.

The decoder provided them with the name of the painting they were hunting for, "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte;" while the newspaper clipping when read thoroughly, gave the artist name, Georges Seurat.

Fake newspaper article (in printable pack) holds important clue for this art escape room.

At this point they had all the information and just needed the painting itself. With all the letters found and in the right order they knew to look "UNDER TABLE."

We have multiple tables, so they had to check a couple but were able to locate the missing painting on their second try.

They were so pleased when they escaped! It took them nearly the entire 45 minutes too. Even though this escape room didn't have a lot of puzzles, the main puzzle was large and not super straight forwards which was challenging to them and took ALL of the kids working together to find the answers. 

Group Learning and Critical Thinking in an Art Themed Escape Room


The benefits I am seeing from using these escape rooms with the homeschool kids is amazing. They are working together so much better and their problem solving is definitely improving. Grab your copy of our art escape room or any of our other escape rooms in the Resource Library! If you aren't a member yet, you can become one for free by joining our weekly email list below. 


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