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8 Reasons Why You Should Use Escape Room Games in Your Classroom

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.


Have you heard about the latest new craze taking over classrooms? If not, let me fill you in, it's called an escape room. Imagine, you and your students are locked in your classroom with a band of swashbuckling pirates. These pirates are holding you and your students hostage! The only way to escape is to solve a string of questions and riddles. Will your class make it out in time?

 These escape room games set the stage for some sort of risky situation, like being captured  by pirates, or having your entire classroom overtaken by monsters, while also giving students a specified amount of time to break free. These new and educational games are something you and your students do not want to miss out on. My particular escape rooms are titled Cracking the Classroom Code™. If you aren't convinced already about how fun these games are, let me give you 8 reasons why you NEED to use escape rooms in your classroom today.

1. Engaging and Fun. An escape room game places students in a situation that prompts them to quickly become part of a scenario. If students are unable to complete the tasks given them in time, they risk never escaping the new world they have entered. These games are exciting. Students are not just given a worksheet and asked to complete problems; they are immersed into a game that requires thinking, moving, and collaboration.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.


2.  Teamwork is a Must. Often, these games are played in small groups of 4-5 people. Students must learn to rely on one another, as well as share their own talents with the group. These games cannot be played alone. One student may be good at reading clues, while another might understand puzzles quickly. As students learn to help each other, they will be able to master the game, and escape in time. These games are not for one player, but meant to encourage team participation.


Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.


3. Get Kids Thinking. Don't throw another boring paper at your students, instead, get creative and set an escape room up. Escape room games help exercise critical thinking skills as students solve puzzles, riddles, and clues. For instance, in my Cracking the Classroom Code™ games, students will be asked word problems, be given riddles, puzzles, and more. In some cases, students must be asked to open their envelopes in a specific order. Students must figure out what that order is, so they can escape correctly. Also, clues are hidden throughout the classroom. By reading the clues, students must brainstorm together, and figure out where to find their next envelopes.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.


Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.


4. It's Challenging. Escape room games are unique. They require students to think outside the box, and problem solve in new ways. Students will be thinking in different directions, while discovering skills they may not have known they had. Instead of grinding away at a worksheet, students can challenge themselves in such a way that they won't even know they are learning! Students are not just memorizing facts, or practicing a skill, they are applying what they learn, and using it to solve problems.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.


5. Hands-on Learning. These games allow students to manipulate clues, and work with their hands. Many games require manipulatives, puzzles, or other materials, so students can have hands-on learning, that turns into minds-on learning.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.


6. Imagination. Escape room games require lots of imagination as students are thrown into a pretend scenario. However, the more they get involved, the more fun they will have. If students pretend there really is a band of pirates taking over their classroom, the pressure to escape becomes fun, challenging, and exciting. All of a sudden, students are racing to finish their clues and problems, not because they have to, but because they want to.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.


7. Social Interaction. These days, kids are inundated with ways to interact on the web, but not so much in person. Students are more concerned about online "likes," than impressing the person next to them. Escape games give students the opportunity to interact with their peers. These games provide a comfortable and entertaining atmosphere, where kids don't need to feel forced to interact. Instead, they feel like they need to, because they all have a common goal of escaping the scenario at hand.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.


8. Technology Integration. Many escape game rooms provide a technology component. This is a fun way to hook students, and appeal to their interests. For instance, my Cracking the Classroom Code™ games have the option to use QR codes. Students must scan the QR codes and make sure their answers match the ones on the codes. Otherwise, students will need to rework the problem. An iPod, iPad, or other device that has a QR scanner is needed for the QR code component. However, my games have an option provided that does not use QR codes as well.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.


Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.

So, be sure to try an escape room with your class today! What is one of the most AMAZING qualities of my Cracking the Classroom Code™ games? Once you have played one game, you can play them all. Each game is unique, but the template of the game remains the same. So, if you play one game with your students, you can play a second one, but still create a whole new experience. Students will be familiar with the rules, engaged, and begging for more.

Find my Cracking the Classroom Code™ escape games {here}!





Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.



Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.

Escape room games are perfect for any elementary classroom. Students try and escape a risky situation in a specified amount of time. My Cracking the Classroom Code games are available for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. Math and language arts escape games are available.




Make Your Own Magnetic Write On/Wipe Off Letter Board


Make your own magnetic letter board, that is also dry erase! Have fun with literacy centers, learning letters, reading and writing. This is an easy, DIY  project, that only takes minutes, You and your kids or students will love how engaging it is. Learning letters and reading just became more fun!

Are you a teacher needing a quick literacy center idea? Or a parent needing a fun and easy way to help your child with reading and writing? Then look no further, because I have the cutest, and simplest DIY project for you. The good news? It'll only take MINUTES to create, and will be loads of fun. Here is a look at the finished project:

Make your own magnetic letter board, that is also dry erase! Have fun with literacy centers, learning letters, reading and writing. This is an easy, DIY  project, that only takes minutes, You and your kids or students will love how engaging it is. Learning letters and reading just became more fun!

The supplies I used are: 
1. A cookie sheet (I found one for about $3 at Walmart).
2. Dry erase tape--I got this fun blue color at Target.
3. Button magnets.
4. These letters printed out on your favorite color of cardstock (you can click on the image to download, or find the PDF {here}):
Make your own magnetic letter board, that is also dry erase! Have fun with literacy centers, learning letters, reading and writing. This is an easy, DIY  project, that only takes minutes, You and your kids or students will love how engaging it is. Learning letters and reading just became more fun!


Make your own magnetic letter board, that is also dry erase! Have fun with literacy centers, learning letters, reading and writing. This is an easy, DIY  project, that only takes minutes, You and your kids or students will love how engaging it is. Learning letters and reading just became more fun!


Once you have all the supplies, go ahead and cut four strips of the dry erase tape to fit on your cookie sheet. The tape is easy to remove and re-stick, so don't sweat it, if you don't get it positioned right the first time. 

Once the tape is on, cut out your letters. Use a glue gun to attach the letters to small button magnets.

That's it! You are ready to write. Use a dry erase marker to write on the tape. 

This activity can be used to practice letter matching, writing and building sight words, or even writing sentences. Good luck and have fun!

Watch the video tutorial below:


                                           
                                                                (Music by Ben Sound)




Make your own magnetic letter board, that is also dry erase! Have fun with literacy centers, learning letters, reading and writing. This is an easy, DIY  project, that only takes minutes, You and your kids or students will love how engaging it is. Learning letters and reading just became more fun!






Why I Became a Teacher (and You Should Too)

Why should you become a teacher? Being a teacher will bring joy, happiness, and a whole lot of love into your life! If you are passionate about teaching, or a first year teacher in a funk, don't give up! Teaching is for you!


Before I became a teacher, I remember former teachers asking me, "Why would you want to be a teacher?" Or teachers flat out telling me, "Teaching isn't fun anymore. Don't do it." Seriously. I heard these things all the time. It was disheartening. I felt like teaching was my calling. People should be congratulating me, and cheering me on for finding my passion, right? I guess when people told me not to be a teacher, it lit a fire within me, and I wanted to prove to them why I KNEW teaching was what I was meant to do. I hope most future teachers don't hear these things, but I fear it is more common than not. I want to tell you why, if teaching is your passion, you should never give up.

From a very young age I remember wanting to be a teacher. I honestly can't remember a time I didn't want to teach. Decorating bulletin boards, being in charge, planning, and yes, even correcting, are things I fantasized about on a daily basis. I had teachers who were influential in this decision. Like, my fourth grade teacher who smiled each day, and made learning fun. Or my sixth grade teacher who was the most caring and kind person I know. She read our journals every month, and always had the nicest words to write back. Yes, these teachers encouraged me, but teaching was already in me. I don't know how to describe it other than I was literally born to teach. Cliche, I know. 

So, come the fall of 2005. I began my first year at the University of Utah. It wasn't until two years later that I entered the education program, but my vision never changed. I was going to be an elementary school teacher. Every chance I got I was volunteering in a classroom. Until finally, it was my last year and I was student teaching. This was a year long event, and come to find out, very hard. I wasn't prepared for many aspects of teaching. For example, classroom management did not come naturally. Yet, I persisted and found what worked for me, and the students. But, isn't that what we all do? Isn't it always a learning experience? 

Eventually I found my way to a 6th grade classroom in an elementary school. It was perfection. You guys, I LOVED my job. Each day I woke up excited to go to work. That first summer before I started, I remember spending hours shopping for my classroom. From decor, to school supplies, I loved it all. The students were fun to interact with, and I enjoyed their quirky habits and enthusiasm for school.

Why should you become a teacher? Being a teacher will bring joy, happiness, and a whole lot of love into your life! If you are passionate about teaching, or a first year teacher in a funk, don't give up! Teaching is for you!When I told people I taught 6th grade, their first reaction was usually, "You're brave." Like I deserved some badge of honor for getting up each day, to do what I thought was a wonderful career. But you know what? I think accountants deserve a badge of honor. I don't want to deal with other people's money. Doctors deserve a badge of honor. I can't even look when I am given a flu shot. Police officers deserve badges of honor, because they are out protecting us every day. In fact, badges of honor should be given to every single person who gets up in the morning and does their job, and get this, likes it! I am not brave for being a teacher. I am human, for finding something I enjoy doing, and never giving up when faced with problems.

And let me tell you, there are problems in education. Lots of them. From not having enough money to buy tissues for your classroom, to students not wanting to learn and bullying other kids. The fact is though, there are problems in every profession, but at the end of the day, does your career make you happy? Does it make you feel like you are changing the world? Does it make you want to be a better person? If you answer yes to these questions, then please, become (or stay) a teacher! We need good teachers. We need teachers who are passionate about their teaching AND their students. We need teachers who wake up each morning and say, "I can do this."

So yes, teacher pay can sometimes suck. We deserve more. Yes, our class sizes should be smaller. We could reach each kid easier. Yes, we need less testing. I believe one day less testing will happen. And yes, we need more access to technology, so students can learn the way they live today. However, we NEED teachers who want to teach. We need teachers who can help solve these problems today. We need teachers who will advocate for students, and help us get education where it needs to be. If we don't have good teachers, changes we need won't happen.

I guess one of the main reasons I love teaching, is that each day is always different. Every day there is a new plan, a new problem to solve, or something new to learn. I love new beginnings, and I love being a part of something magical. That is teaching to me. I teach because I care. I teach because each day I make a difference. I teach so I can help students find their role in life, I teach to make change, because we desperately need it in our world today!

Why should you become a teacher? Being a teacher will bring joy, happiness, and a whole lot of love into your life! If you are passionate about teaching, or a first year teacher in a funk, don't give up! Teaching is for you!


So, here we are, 5 reasons you SHOULD be a teacher:


#1. Your students need a good role model. You can be that person. Your students need you, just as much as you need them.

#2. You will solve problems each day, whether great or small. No day will ever be the same. You will have the chance to make a difference.

#3. Joy. Honestly, you will see joy every day. From a student learning to read, to another student just happy to be at school. Joy and happiness will be found each day. Not only will you see it, you will feel it, and that will make teaching worth it. 

#4. You will have a purpose in your life. Students will be counting on you, parents will be counting on you, and your school will need you. Not only will you have a purpose, but you will be helping the future find theirs. 

#5. You will always be learning. You will be the learning leader in your classroom, yet you will be learning yourself. As students see you learning, they will want to as well. 

Teaching, it is not a profession for the weak! You must be strong, but you can do this!

Why should you become a teacher? Being a teacher will bring joy, happiness, and a whole lot of love into your life! If you are passionate about teaching, or a first year teacher in a funk, don't give up! Teaching is for you!




10 Rules Every Teacher Should Live By


When you are teacher, there are a few rules (10 to be exact) that you should live by. Some of these rules are learned from experience, others are just inside us, beckoning to be followed.  So, without further ado, here are the 10 rules every teacher should live by.





When I first started teaching I didn't get this rule. Ignore my ignorance. I just didn't know why I needed to buy more than the 4 pack of Flair Pens: red, blue, black, and green. 4 pens should last all year, right? WRONG. 4 pens will last a week. Keep those pens safe, and keep them close. Also, a variety of colors and shades makes grading more fun. It's a proven fact.


Number 2 is one of those obvious rules, that I hope most teachers "Just know." However, I realize we all have our own strengths and weaknesses (my strength being I am REALLY good at eating chocolate without students seeing), so I thought this was worth the reminder. 


This is a must. No more carrying around your cute Kate Spade handbag (by the way, if you have a cute Kate Spade handbag, you must be making bank, so keep it up). You need a gigantic tote bag if you are a teacher. Some teachers even use those rolling foldable crates, because they just can't risk spilling the 20 pounds of papers they are taking home to grade. Don't risk it! Get the big tote...or crate. 



Sometimes you might have to expect to pay 4 times as much as you were planning. Don't worry though, it's worth it. Repeat, it is ALWAYS worth it. That dollar spot just has so many adorable things for the classroom, that I can't stand it. Mini buckets with cute patterns? I need 12. A motivational sign to decorate my desk? Sure, why not. Those seasonal erasers students would like as prizes? I'll take 20. I need it all. 


I know, this one seems simple. However, there are those days. You know what I am talking about. The days a kid throws up all over the floor, or when a parent barges into your room unexpected (or both). Or the days you get observed and your lesson totally flops. There will be those days, but there is always something great in each day. Find that greatness and let it shine!



A teacher will always love each of his/her students, no matter what. That phrase is important, "No matter what." We love our students for who they are, always. Sometimes we are the only love they get, so we must make it count.












I'll admit, I've done this. I left school early one day (like at 5 instead of 6), and didn't finish planning. Then, my alarm didn't go off in the morning, and I barely made it before the bell. That day I taught language arts flying by the seat of my pants. I learned a dangerous lesson: I could teach some lessons by flying by the seat of my pants. I became tempted to make it a habit. I advise not to do this often. When lessons are planned and prepared, you are happy, the kids are happy, and usually, the hard work pays off. Plan as much as possible.




There has never been a truer statement. Whether you misspell something on the board, or accidentally give an incorrect fact about your science lesson, there is always a student that likes to correct the teacher. Laugh at your mistakes, let the student know they are awesome, and move on. Laughing always makes instances like this better.



This isn't just a rule, it is essential. When you have a friend you can go to with the good and bad, you can get through any obstacle at work. When that friend is another teacher in your building? Score, you now have someone who gets you. Planning and collaborating now feels more like hanging out, rather than work. Teachers love to teach, but we also love to chat, so having a BFF at work is definitely a must!



Need I say more? This rule says it all.

Good luck teachers. Keep believing and keep teaching!







teachers, elementary teachers, teaching, rules, teacher life




Be the Teacher Who Decided to Go For It!



There will be times in your career when you will come to a crossroads and need to decide, "Is this worth it? Will this make a difference?"  Sometimes you will feel like you are taking a chance, and jumping into the unknown. Other times, you will be a visionary and will be convinced that things will work out, no matter what. In both of these instances, I say, be the teacher who decided to go for it.  Either way you will learn a lesson, and come out a better person. There were several instances in my career when I decided to go for it, and was changed forever. Some situations were harder than others, but ALL were worth the effort.



My first experience trying to "Go for it," while teaching was very early on. Think: student teaching, overwhelmed, thrown into the fire, I've dreamed of teaching my whole life, but not actually done it, early. I was sitting in my college classroom filling out a form detailing the age I would like to student teach in, and why. Well, obviously, I chose K-2, because I was getting my Kindergarten endorsement, so it would make sense. Also, I knew I was meant to teach younger grades. What does that even mean? I didn't know anything. I hadn't really experienced teaching yet.

Turns out, I got a position to student teach in second grade. Wahoo! I planned for weeks, and detailed every lesson down to the minute. I was organized and ready to teach. What I was not ready for were the students. I know, that sounds absurd, I am a teacher! What I mean is this: I had planned out what teaching should look like, without actually experiencing it. I had many jobs and experiences with young children, however, holding their attention for hours on end each day, while also planning and teaching a curriculum was something I had never done. I was overwhelmed. After a couple months I wasn't enjoying what I was doing. To top it all off, connecting to second graders was not coming naturally to me. I was scared. It was the first week in February and I was approached by my professor to switch to a fifth grade classroom. I decided to go for it. 

I instantly connected with the older elementary students. This. Was. Me. Planning their lessons was interesting and enjoyable. I had conversations with students that were meaningful, and was able to inspire and teach, all at the same time. I don't know if it was a new start, a new grade, or a new outlook, but changing grades really helped me to be a better teacher. Deciding to go for it, and try something new made me the teacher I am today. Spoiler alert: I never got my Kindergarten endorsement. Kudos to all you Kindergarten teachers out there! I envy your patience, motivation, and creativity. I spent the next 5 years of my professional career teaching 6th grade in an elementary classroom, and I loved every second (well, almost every second) of it. I am so grateful for this experience. It is a time in my life that I am proud to say I took the brave step into the unknown, and embraced the joy I didn't know was waiting for me.

Another time I decided to go for it was not quite as dramatic, but still important. It was my first year teaching, and from day one all I had heard from my students was, "When will the castle fair be?" What the heck was a castle fair? I tried putting it off and saying things like, "I haven't decided," or "Sometime after Christmas," or when Christmas was over, "I'll talk to the other teachers, but before Spring Break for sure." Keep in mind my entire 6th grade team was new to the school. For two of us it was our first year, and my other coworker had just started part way through the year, the previous year. As I got to talking to the principal and other more veteran teachers at the school, it turned out this was a 6th grade tradition. Each year when they learned about the Medieval time period, they made castles and had a huge production for the whole school to come and see, to finish their unit. As a new teacher, this was a lot to take on. My other two coworkers were not as enthusiastic about it, but for me, my students had been looking forward to it, and I didn't want to let them down. You guessed it, I decided to go for it.

My class was the only class that participated in the castle fair that year. It wasn't perfect, and there are things I wish I had changed. However, my students were so proud of their projects, and we showed them off to the entire school, just like they had witnessed each year, until it was finally their turn.

Eventually, the following year my coworkers came around, and all classes participated in the castle fair. I became in charge of it. The castle fair was my project, and I looked forward to it each year. It was my favorite activity to oversee.

The point is, we can all go for it. We can do it in big and small ways. Each day we are presented with opportunities that can change our career. We need to decide if that will be the moment we chase our dreams, and go for it, or walk away always wondering about our decision.

I say, go for it!

You've got this teachers. I believe in you.





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