Increase Problem Solving Trying to Escape the Library

15 May

Escape the library! Never! I know the library is one of my favorite places, but I suppose if it was creepy and deserted I would want to leave too. So, that is just what kids have to do in this Book Themed Escape Room.

Kids book themed escape room


Now this escape room does have a lot of props, namely books! Any books will do for the most part, but there are a few that you have to have to solve the puzzles. Other than that you can go crazy adding books, after all between the pages is a great place to hide paper clues.

Do be aware that the more books you add the harder the escape room will be, so if you are worried your group will have trouble, keep it simple.


Supplies for the Library Escape Room

As I said books, but here are the ones you need to solve the puzzles.


Other supplies you need:

How to Set-up an Escape from the Library Book Themed Room

First things first, print all your printables. You will notice you have 2 copies of the combination lock puzzle, but you only need one per class. 

Now take the snap circuits picture, and after you have gathered all the pieces, cut it apart, so you can hide puzzle pieces and snap circuits pieces throughout the room and in the locked containers. I also programmed the fan to say, "You Escape." If you don't have these exact snap circuit pieces, use what you have and just snap a picture and print to make your own puzzle.

Next we need to prepare your locks. The combination lock needs to be 25, 0, 22. These numbers are found using the books indicated on the combination lock puzzle page. The kids will have to be able to count to find the right numbers, and they will also have to think a little because the number 25 is the word "quarter" in the book. 


Kid problem solve to escape the library.


The next lock, a 3-digit lock, is found by decoding the Elvish note. This is a phonetic note rather than just letter for letter. The combination they need is 6,3,7.

The final lock can be 4 or 5 digits depending on the series of books you choose. I used Narnia, and I actually have 2 different versions of the books, so although I only have one of each book, I had duplicate numbers. So our combination ended up 5116, but it is more likely yours will be 4 different numbers. To create this puzzle you need to stack the books in whatever order you want, and after making sure the bottoms are all even, place a piece of washi tape diagonally across the spines. Carefully cut between the books. Now you can mix them up, and the kids will have to use their skills of observation and problem solving to put the tape back together which reveals the lock combination.

Visual puzzle in free kids escape room.

Finish hiding any pieces that aren't in one of the locked containers, and you are ready to go.

How to Solve the Room and Escape the Library

A big part of this room is finding all the pieces, especially if you hide them between book pages. 

Once they have found all the printed puzzles and snap circuit pieces, they will need to decipher the puzzles. 

The first one, for the combination lock, takes quite some time to solve if they don't break it up, so it is a good one for practicing team work. Each book is abbreviated, so they will first have to identify the books they need. This is where it is beneficial to have extra books in the room, more books means more decoys which means really flexing those logical thinking skills. 

Books are great places to hide things in escape rooms.


After identifying the books, they will need to figure out what the numbers mean. In this case the numbers refer to chapters, paragraphs, sentence, and word numbers. The paragraphs can be tricky for younger kids because of the dialog. Decoding these will give them a sentence with the combination at the end.

The second lock would be the Elvish alphabet decoder. Since this is not letter for letter, their phonetic blending skills will be tested a bit too. It shouldn't prove too difficult for fluent readers though.

Utilized the Lord of the Rings Elvish alphabet in this book themed escape room.


Now they have just one puzzle left, and this one proved to be the hardest for all the classes I had. They didn't seem to take notice of the washi tape on the side, and then they ended up spreading out the series! So this is where a hint card had to be used. I usually force them to use a hint card after they have been working 30-40 minutes if they aren't using them efficiently. I generally would tell them to look closely at the specific series.  Eventually this was enough to get them all there although some classes put it together faster than others. Once ordered, they can open the last lock.

Now they just have to assemble the snap circuits to see they escape.

Puzzle pieces were hidden through the escape room.

Like my other escape rooms, this one took about 45 minutes for my classes both the 8-13 year old class and the 13+ class. The older class had about half the students though, so you have to take that into consideration when planning. If you have 4-5 older kids and 7-10 of the younger kids it seems to work pretty well.

Like the other escape rooms, the kids have hint cards to use. You can print out extras if you think your group will need them. I always try to give them just enough information to figure out the puzzle if they think about it. As much as they try, I never tell them answers or combinations. We're trying to teach them critical thinking after all. 

And if anyone is wondering, I would never try to escape a library in normal circumstances, it would actually be more like a fight to get me out. 

This free library escape room helps kids develop problem solving and teamwork skills.
This had been such a fun class for our homeschool co-op. Maybe more fun for me to watch how the kids grow their problem solving skills then for them as they spend much of the time a bit perplexed, but it has definitely been good for them. I could see escape rooms making for some fun summer get togethers for small groups of friends too. There are several themed Escape Rooms to choose from too on our Hands-on Critical Thinking Page!


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