Introduce Shakespeare with a Free Escape Room

26 November

For most high school aged kids, Shakespeare is not something they want to read. Just mentioning the name can result in all of the groaning in unison. Of course, some of us enjoy Shakespeare especially when we get a little older and find value in kids reading it too. So, to introduce our homeschool coop kids to some Shakespeare in a pretty non-groan inducing way, I created a Shakespeare themed escape room for them!

I wanted this room to be one that they could do with no prior knowledge of Shakespeare, so all the puzzles and props were intended to introduce the bard's work without them needed to read a lot of it or interpret any of it!


Items Needed to Create a Shakespeare Escape Room


Free Printables found in the Resource Library
A Collection of Shakespeare's works that enable you to find the cast quickly (We used this and this)
3 Digit Programmable Lock
4 Digit Programmable Lock
5 Digit Programmable Lock
3 Containers that can be locked
Teddy Bear (optional)
Battery powered tealights and a plastic skull are a nice touch too!


How to Set-up a Shakespearean Escape Room


Start by printing out your printables. You will notice that there are duplicates of a few pages because I wanted the vintage, tea stained page look on mine, but I didn't think everyone would want to print a background, so there are copies with white backgrounds as well.

Now you will cut apart all the printable pieces. You will also need to cut the sonnet into 3 pieces: 1 piece will be the title and the first quatrain and one piece will be either the second stanza plus a line or the five last lines; the remaining piece will be 3 lines.

You will also want to cut the words off the wordsearch, so you can hide separately.

Laminate anything you want to keep in good condition!

Now it is time to program your locks as stated in the instructions and start locking stuff up. In one container place your stuffed bear and the You Escaped (pursued by a bear) card. Lock this with the 3-digit lock. In your next container place the 3 line portion of the sonnet, the final answer card, and the You Rescued Proteus card; we also included a doll to act as Proteus. Lock this with the 5-digit lock. In the third container place the 5 line portion of the sonnet and the clue on meter and lock with the 4 digit lock.

Now you are only left with a couple printable pieces, books, and any decoration you have; I highly suggest a skull.

Hide the wordsearch, words, first piece of the sonnet, character match, and the rhyme scheme clue. You can hide the books as well if you need an additional challenge. We only had 4 kids and 45 minutes, so I left them on the table!



How to Solve the Shakespeare Themed Escape Room



Now that everything is set up, you are ready to add the kids! Like I said we did this with 4 high school age kids with little knowledge of Shakespeare. If you have a younger group (middle school) 8 is probably a good number.



As with all escape rooms, the first thing they need to do is find what you have hidden, so if you have hidden the books as well, it will take a little longer to find things.

Once they have found everything to figure out which pieces go with which other pieces.

The wordsearch is obvious once they have the words, but there is a trick. Once they have found all the words, the letters that are left spell out the name of the play.

The character match could be easy if they are familiar with the plays, but more than likely they will need to look in the books for which character goes with which play. Like the wordsearch this likely seems like busy work to them, but to get one of the names they need, they must complete the match and then, the letters the lines go over spell out the name.

The remaining parts are the rhyme scheme clue and the first part of the sonnet. Once they realize these go together, they can find the rhyme scheme which gives you the combination for the first lock.

Inside this first container is the cue about meter and the 5 line section of the sonnet. The students must recognize that they need to find the meter and then figure out the number of feet per line. 5 lines equals a 5 digit code for the next lock.

This second container contains Proteus, the remaining section of the sonnet, and the answer card for them to fill out. The answer card tells them how to find the three digit code, and this proved difficult for my group since what they saw was a two digit number and they needed a three digit code!



Inside this container is the You escaped card and the bear if you have one. Really the only purpose for this final lock was so I could use that famous stage direction, "exit pursued by a bear," from The Winter's Tale. Of course the kids didn't get it, but it was fun for me anyhow.



With critical thinking puzzles and learning some new terms like Iambic Pentameter and Poetic Foot means lots of brain work going on. The trickiest part about the puzzles is that even once they have the answer, they have to essentially decode the answer to get the information they need.

And hopefully after this quick introduction, the kids will realize that Shakespeare is not so scary or groan worthy as they thought!

Be sure to print out your Shakespeare Escape Room Printables! Then head here to see all the other Escape Rooms!

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