Tool Tuesday: ESCAPE! - MindWing Concepts, Inc.

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Tool Tuesday: ESCAPE!

April 29, 2024 2 min read

Escape rooms are popular diversions in real life and are inherently story-based through their varied themes. These experiences wrap language and visual cues into fun problem-solving situations, but can be pretty difficult to simulate in educational and intervention situations. Digital formats make this much easier!

Check out Hooda Math’s huge variety of free escape gamesmy favorite selections are the US State and National Park collections. These are always a hit with students and, though on their surface seem simple point-and-click games, offer a lot in terms of general language and tie-ins with expository text.

The Utah adventure challenges you to find a raft to “escape” the situation. Each game involves a series of scenes where you need to spy clickable elements, such as items to pick up or examine more closely, at times leading to sequencing puzzles. I have used these to encourage students to take notes, which offer opportunities for tie-ins with using MindWing’s expository icons and maps for List and Sequence.

Escape sample 1

The puzzles may seem complicated at first, but students, especially those working together, often have a natural sense of what to do next. There is also a “walkthrough” video for each game which provides a great brief overview of all the solutions, so this would arm you with an idea of how to give clues.

I have frequently used digital escape rooms in social groups as a way to facilitate students collaborating, “thinking with their eyes” and making inferences, and having fun. One of my favorite recent situations has been a student with expository language goals who attends sessions at BU’s clinic, working with a graduate student under my supervision. The student endured a long public transportation ride into Boston with his mother each week and, based on his request, we recently switched to a hybrid model, offering telepractice sessions every other week. Thus, we needed to think about visual engagement tools that could be used over Zoom. Hooda Escape games provided one avenue, and we have paired these with expository materials previewing and expanding on the setting of the chosen game. I am always quick to show my graduate students the offerings on Epic Books for Kids, which in particular has great photo books on every state in the USA! Epic has a longstanding great deal offering free accounts to educators.

The graduate student clinician guided the student through reading the book and completing an Expository Description Map before engaging with the escape room, which was a great motivator.

For more on using escape rooms in educational situations, check out this great resource from Edutopia.

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