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This video explores the use of propsin live escape rooms for language teaching, English language teaching in particular.
We will look at what to consider when using props in your Escape Rooms, particularly when the objective of the activity is for learning or practising English.
So, to begin with, let’s explore the kind of props you might want to use, especially in reference to language teaching and learning.
You might want to stop the video at this point and discuss this with someone if you are not watching this alone If you are on your own, just take a moment to reflect on these questions and write some notes.
Let’s start with treasure. This is a large toy gold dollar bill I picked up in a shop. I haven’t used it yet, but it’s easy to think of it being the objective to an escape room – find the special gold dollar bill. One I have used is a fake Mayan mask I picked up from the Craft market in Mexico City. This became the inspiration for a story based speaking ELT Escape Room game. And finally, a collection of potential treasure I picked up – bags of sweets that look like they could be pills – the advantage that they can be eaten by students at the end of the game. Fake toy money and some coloured stones that can pass as jewels.
Another prop I am fond of is the secret container. I have one which is a fake dictionary – it looks like a book, but is actually a safety deposit box with a combination lock.
I also bought a clock with a secret compartment, which I used in my Mystery of the Mayan mask game – this was cool because clocks are usually found in classrooms, and so are not out of place.
Lockable document bags are useful – you can put information in them and use a padlock to make them inaccessible without key or a code.
Lockable chests and suitcases are also good to use. The cheapest way to get hold of these is at markets or second hand shops
In one of my games, I also hid post-its with messages on inside balloons, which I pinned to the wall. You need to encourage students to burst the balloons to get the messages – this can be a lot of fun.
I’ve also experimented with putting small lights that are often found in display shops in balloons in order to draw attention to them. You can then easily signal there is something (a message, for example) inside the balloon.
I got hold of one of these, a puzzle box called the impossible box, that has a secret compartment that you can use to hide clues in so long as the clues are small.
If you need to attach something (clues, documents, etc) to the bottom of chairs or tables, or to fire extinguishers, etc. Then magnets or Velcro pads are very useful.
You can buy pens that write in invisible ink, only readable using blacklights, which you can also buy cheaply. I have used this to write clues on pieces of paper that seem to be blank until backlights are used. You can also download an application to have a blacklight on your mobile phone.
You can record audio or video or put other clues in USB keys or on SD cards if you let students use their phones or a computer to access clues.
You can buy blank jigsaws and decorate them – add messages or codes on them.
If you have a projector in your classroom, take advantage of digital countdown timers to show how much time is left. There are plenty on youtube.
This is just a selection of props that I have come across or used. There are lots more that I am sure you have used in your own Escape Room games or could use.
Escape the Classroom! Using Props in ELT Escape Rooms
Escape Room ELT
Live Escape Rooms
• What kinds of props might you use?
• How might you use them?
• What other things should you consider?