Practice Problem Solving with a Zoo Escape Room

02 September

Escape room games are such a fun way to give kids some hands-on problem solving practice. And this escape room has a twist!

You may think that if zoo animals escaped you would also escape the zoo, but for this escape room the puzzles all lead to returning the animals to their cages and locking them back up.



Maybe this should be called a puzzle room instead of an escape room. Either way it is sure to get your students some hands-on critical thinking practice in order to solve it.

Supplies for a Zoo Escape Room



Setting up a Zoo Escape Game


As always the first thing to do is gather your supplies and print all your printables. You will need to prepare your balloon by stretching it out and writing a 3 digit number on it (I used 125) and a tiger paw print very small.

Set your locks. The combination lock needs to be 25-00-22 or use a 5-digit that is 2502. The 3-digit is 125, the 4 is 8082, and the 5-digit is 59241.

One thing to keep in mind about this room is that you actually need 2 rooms to set it up! The rooms can be separated by a hall as mine were, but I wouldn't put them too far apart.

In the first room, you will need to hide the freshly popped popcorn. We left ours in the microwave, and for some reason the kids did not get into it! Use your combination lock to "lock" the door to the room. We wrapped a bike chain around the doorknob with the lock on it. You will also need to hide the 5 animal cards around the room. If you do not have a combination lock that has the combination 25-00-22, use a 5 digit lock and the second set of animal cards (they have 5 digit number next to the pictures rather than 6 digit).



Then using one color of washi tape (I went with blue since I had the most blue), make a line on the floor starting outside of the door and going into the room that will house the second part of the puzzle.


In the second room, hide your 3 wire "cages" with the locks on them, but open. Hide the animals through the room along with the book, collective noun cards, and balloon.



Now you will continue your blue washi tape around the room leading to the cage with the 4-digit lock.



Starting at the door, add in the yellow and red tape. The yellow will need to make a path around the room leading to the cage with the 3-digit lock. The red will then go to the cage with the 5-digit lock.

Now you have your rooms ready, so it is time to solve them!


Solving the Zoo Themed Escape Puzzles


When the kids go to solve these logic problems, they are starting in an imaginary cage. The goal of the first room is to identify which animal's cage they have been locked in, so they can choose the correct code to get out. The clue they have to go on here is the smell of buttered popcorn. They can connect this to the Binturong when they read the descriptions.

Once they are out of the first room they will need to follow the blue line to the second room.


Now in the second room, the obvious thing for them to do is follow the lines and find the empty cages. Each cage should have an open lock on it, and they will need the combination to re-lock it. They will also need to find all the animals before they can lock them up.

The puzzles in this room can be solved in any order. The easiest to solve is the balloon. Once they find the balloon and realize it is part of the room, they will need to blow it up (or at least stretch it) to see the paw print and and code on it. Now they will need to connect a lot of information. The balloon is yellow, so they should follow the yellow line to the cage with 3 a 3 digit lock. There was a tiger paw print on the balloon, so they should put the tiger in this cage, and the number on the balloon is the combination.

Another puzzle they will find in this room is the pigpen cipher. The answer to the cipher will direct them to lock the hippo up with combination 8082. The color of the cipher is blue, so they can follow the blue tape to the correct cage.

The last cage is one that holds all the other animals which are elephants, giraffes, and zebras. In the room in red ink are the pieces to the collective noun matching. To help with this, you should place the book A Pandemonium of Parrots somewhere in the room. If they have found all the matches, they will notice the only match that also has matching numbers is the Herd of Elephants. This directs them to place the elephants in this final cage. But they also want the zebras and giraffes, so to be sure they get all the herbivores there is a Rail Fence cipher (also in red) to work out. 

After they get this final cage locked, they can leave the zoo!



Do your students need more problem solving practice? Check out all our other Hands-on Critical Thinking Activities here

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