Library Escape Rooms are really big right now, so I tried to design this program so that any library can try to duplicate it. Because making something like this is kinda daunting–where do you even start? From what I’ve read, starting at the end is the best way to do it.
I didn’t want to my kids to actually “break out” of our room; I thought that would end badly. So I thought that the end would be unlocking a suitcase that had candy bars.
So then I had to figure out where to put the key to unlock the suitcase. So I got an idea from a library call number scavenger hunt. I hid the key in a hollowed out book. These are easy enough to make, and there’s probably a million pins about it already on the Pinned-Interest.
Next, I made a fake call number for the book and stuck it out in the stacks in our nonfiction section. The call number was “J 793.735 DOY.” 793.735 is the Dewey call number for “riddles.” Pretty cool, right?
So the final puzzle was actually NOT in the escape room, but I made sure to tell kids that the key to the suitcase was hidden somewhere in the library, and they had to solve the puzzles to find out where.
Still working backwards, I figured that now that each puzzle that was solved would now unlock a part of the call number. Miss Gloria thought it would be a good idea to do only three puzzles, so I broke the call number into three chunks for the three different puzzles we would have. Each chuck is color-coded, and matches the color on the sign where that number would go in the call number. This was to try to make it easier on the kids.
Going off of the book idea, I figured our room’s theme would be “Crazy Librarian’s Office.” That way, we don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of props, we can just use what we have lying around. So we brought up an extra desk and furniture from the basement, and dressed it all with office supplies and junk to make it look busy. Then we just hid all of our clues.
I decided that the office belonged to Miss Petra. She’s an old and mean librarian–and of course she loves cats. Because she kinda has to, right?
Still working backwards, Miss Gloria and I came up with the three puzzles that would unlock the three chunks of the call number. I mapped out the plan like this; the end is at the top:
Miss Gloria wanted to do one that number related and one that was word related, so we came up with using different kind of locks for different puzzles.
The “79” of the call number was locked in a box with a number combination. The combination would be the numbers of a broken clock–from what I’ve heard this is used a lot but your kids won’t know that.
To know that, we would have the kids use a UV light to search the room. If they looked at the portrait of Miss Petra on the wall, they would see “Time is the Key = Clock” written in invisible ink around the frame. We hid the UV light in a desk drawer with a clue attached to it that said “Use me to see in the DARK” so kids knew that it was important.
The “3.7” of the call number was locked in a box with a letter combination lock. The answer was “BOOK.” To figure that out, they would have to put together a puzzle that said the word “BOOK” on it. For this we got a blank puzzle, wrote on it, and then hid them around the room. It was just more stuff to find!!
The “35” of the call number was locked in a box with a padlock. The key to that was hidden under Miss Petra’s chair with duct tape, so if they got this clue they could figure it out:
Goldi-LOCKS! So to get that clue, they had to open a separate box with a separate key. We hid that key in a dragon puppet, way back in the mouth so you would probably miss it if you were just searching really quick.
So in order to figure that out they had to find one of these bookmarks, which had “DRAGON” spelled out in sign language. I hid three around the room in different spots. And once they found the Sign Language Chart, they’d be all set.
If you take a look at the poster I made for the event, you’ll see that I basically GAVE my kids all the clues they needed right away. WHAT?! M. Night Shyamalan moment!!
So that’s it. Really low cost, the only thing we really bought was the letter lock, the LED UV flaghlight, the blank puzzle, and the invisible ink pens. Everything else we had lying around. So it’s a cheap and fun program to do.