Using Puzzles and Games in the Classroom to Engage Students

Find great ideas for keeping students engaged in learning with puzzles and games from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

Using puzzles, games, breakout boxes and escape rooms have become a trend in education. We recently had a #2ndaryELA Twitter chat about using puzzles and games in the ELA classroom. Read about how these teachers are incorporating these strategies into their lessons.

Q1: How are you already using puzzles and games in your classroom?

A1: I’m currently gaga for Escape Rooms, particularly as an engaging review before a test. Ss love working together to solve these puzzles!

A1: I am obsessed with digital breakouts and my students love the challenge. I use them to review literary elements and preview or review texts.

A1: I have used @breakoutEDU in my classroom. We also have done scavenger hunts with QR codes.

A1 con’t: The scavenger hunt is paper QR codes hung up around the room and hallway for students to scan and get information

A1: I am looking for some ideas tonight. I have thought about breakout boxes, but haven’t made one yet

A1: Lots of breakout box ideas online

A1: I made my first “escape room” when my class read “A Christmas Carol”

A1: I’m totally obsessed, but I haven’t gotten into actual boxes much – I’ve been focused on the puzzles. Have you ever played a live escape room? So fun!

A1: We’ve made writing bingo recently! It’s an individual thing, but it makes writing a bit more enjoyable. B-I-N-G-O… in the classroom?

A1: One of my students earned bingo, and blogged about it —

Q2: What positive outcomes have you witnessed with these learning tools? Tell us about your favorite activity.

A2: I love trivia, and wanted to bring that joy to my students. I made a daily trivia bell ringer and students work in the same teams all month. This has really increased collaboration, team spirit, and punctuality!

A2: Breakouts often engage the students you wouldn’t expect. My favorite moments are when students solve one before me

A2: I had a formal observation with my escape and earned 2 ratings of “innovating”. Plus all my Ss were truly engaged.

A2: What exactly is a breakout box – how is that different from an escape?

A2: The concept is the same, but students actually receive some code or combination at the end of each puzzle. They can then unlock an actual box.

A2: I use Kahoot! which is an online game that I mainly use as a review. The kids are extremely engaged and they always ask when we are going to play

A2: Additionally, if the boxes nest, the puzzles have to be progressive (not stations) and completed in order.

Q3: How do you assure your students meet learning outcomes and standards while playing and puzzling?

A3: I make sure puzzles are based on standards. For example, each Escape Room task students complete is aligned to a skill, like sequencing plot events or identifying characterization.

A3: Using breakouts that require content knowledge to be solved keeps puzzling connected to standards

A3: I matched each activity to a standard. Successful completion of the activity demonstrated proficiency

A3: My kids enjoy Kahoot too! We have run into an issue with someone hacking the games and creating extra users. Has this happened to you?

A3: My admin liked how all the Ss really had to work together to solve the puzzles. There was no way for one person to do all the work.

Q4: What struggles and questions do you still have for using more puzzles and games in the ELA classroom?

A4: I think I still struggle with not making them too hard!

A4 I’d love to get a breakout kit so I could do some digital, some hands-on, and some combinations

Q5: Share resources for using puzzles and games in the classroom (e.g. blog posts, Pinterest ideas).

A5: I’ve written about other types of puzzles I use (like mechanical entanglement puzzles!) on my blog. You can check that post out here:

A5: Of course! We also have a Facebook group if you want to ask for help there – it’s

A5: Here’s a blog post about planning out a digital breakout

A5 cont: And another blog post full of resources for creating your own digital breakout

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