Last week was Ephraim’s seventh birthday!
Honestly, I always get a little teary on his birthday when I think about how we missed the first year and a half of his life but I’m so thankful that we’ve been able to spend the last five and a half together.
Since we weren’t doing a party on his birthday (we’ll do one when we can) I wanted to make the day a little more special and so I decided he would find his gift at the end of an escape room/scavenger hunt.
I made a video of his birthday but I also wanted to write out how we did the escape room/scavenger hunt for those that prefer that.
Also, I did a little birthday interview with him, I want to do this every year because I think it will be so neat to look back on, I just wish I would have started sooner!
Here’s the birthday video, you can watch them solve the escape room:
Check out all the escape rooms I’ve been making for the kids.
Also, here’s our adoption story – the journey to Ephraim.
Birthday Escape Room/Scavenger Hunt
I wanted to keep the escape room simple for me to make but have the clues so they took the kids awhile to work out. It’s kind of annoying when you spend all this time working on clues and they just fly through them. Plus, if you make them harder you need to make less clues!
For this clue we found a riddle online but I didn’t want it to just be a simple riddle they could figure out right away so we switched up some of the words and underlined them and they kids needed to work out that they need to find different words for the underlined ones – words that rhymed.
I was surprised they took as long with this clue as they did, we needed to give a decent amount of hints but I would prefer to have to give hints rather than make the clue too easy.
This clue led them to the kitchen table where we had tucked the next clue up in the leaf that is stored under our table.
Jared made up the second clue. He wrote a paragraph that didn’t make a whole lot of sense but he wrote it out in all different colors and the kids needed to figure out that the colors mattered and the orange words spelled out: it’s in the dryer.
This one took them a few minutes but I thought it would have taken them longer.
The third clue was a poem I copied out of a Shel Silverstein book. I made all the letters lowercase except the ones that spelled out C-R-I-B, originally I was going to leave it just like that but Jared didn’t think they’d see it so I bolded the letters but writing over them a few times.
This clue they ended up figuring out pretty much right away.
THE CODE & GIFT
Each of the clues ended up leading them not only to the next clue but also to one other thing. One clue gave them a code maker, one a code breaker and the last one gave them the code they needed to solve.
Once they had the code figured out it read: Terror of the Seas which is a quote from Pippi Longstocking, a book Ephraim has listened to literally dozens of times.
When he found the book on the shelf he opened it and found a key which after some prodding found out it went with the workbench in the garage, so off they went and he found his present!
We got him a portable electric drum kit which he’s already picking up really quickly!
While this whole world-wide pandemic thing changed what he may have wanted his birthday to look he still had a lot of fun and enjoyed his day.
Any ideas on themes for future escape rooms? You can check out all the ones I’ve made so far here.
I had so much fun making an Escape Room for the kids a few weeks ago I knew I wanted to use what I had learned during that process and make an Escape Room Style Easter Scavenger Hunt.
I didn’t take any photos during the hunt because I was having so much fun watching them figure everything out but I’ll explain exactly what we did. I’ll even share all the clues we made and you can use them as is if that works for you/your home or you can change them or use different clues but using what I share as a guide.
One of the ways I know the Escape Room Scavenger Hunt was a success was because Ephraim said “It feels like Christmas!” I always want to put more emphasis on Easter but we are often busy with so many family gatherings and gathering with the church that there just isn’t much time (or energy) to do it, but thanks to COVID-19 this year was different!
We knew we wanted to keep the clues to Bible verses since so we thought of a few different ways to use different verses about Jesus’ death and resurrection as clues.
Each clue (we gave them five) lead them to a small chocolate egg that had a number written on it. At the end we gave them an additional clue that told them the five numbers unlocked a lock where they would find a surprise. For this we had a combination locking closing a cupboard, the combination lock had five digits, hence the five clues.
After the five clues but before the clue to unlock the surprise we let them look around the house for additional little chocolate eggs we had randomly hidden throughout the house.
It was a little funny to watch because they did so great with the clues (some of which were kind of tricky) but the eggs that were hidden pretty much in the open they struggled to find.
I just had all the clues and gave them to them one at a time instead of hiding the actual clues. Three of the clues needed them to use their Bibles so I made sure they had those out.
Because they were finding eggs with numbers on them and they would figure out the number order later and I was just giving out the next clues it didn’t matter which number went in which spot. This made setting this up so much easier than a traditional scavenger hunt where you have to make sure to hide the next clue in the right spot.
The first clue we gave them was:
Matthew 27:24-26: So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took _________________________________ before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
They needed to use their Bibles to look up the passage and fill in the blank. When they did so they realized it says he “took water and washed his hands”. The egg for this one was hidden in a bathroom sink.
For this second clue we used a different kind of code, we still had a Bible verse (I just removed the reference so they didn’t get hung up by looking it up in their Bible and missing the code), but we did something different for the clue. What we gave them looked like this:
As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”
24-2, 35-3, 55-1, 67-4
We just told them that everything they needed to solve the code was right there on the paper. Ephraim actually figured out that the numbers at the bottom represented word-number. So, the first one was the twenty-fourth word and the second letter (L), the next one was the thirty-fifth word and third letter (E), etc, until they had LEGO. We hid one of the eggs amongst their Lego.
For the next clue we did another fill in the blank they needed to look up in their Bibles.
John 6:35: Jesus said to them, “I am ____________________; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
For this one the answer was “the Bread of Life” so we hid an egg by our bread.
We picked out a long verse for this clue so we could hide a word throughout the verse.
1 Corinthians 15:3-8: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance. Or you at the first: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas. That is, Peter and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
The bold letters spell out the word microscope which was where the next egg was hidden.
And the last clue that held a number was another fill in the blank.
John 11:25: “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the _________’.”
The answer for this one was “Life” and we had the last clue in the box of the Game of Life.
EASTER EGG HUNT
Before giving the kids the final clue that would tell them the order of the numbers and let them in to their surprise we gave them a few minutes to look for chocolate eggs throughout the house. We didn’t want them to do this earlier and accidentally come across eggs with numbers.
For some reason they were pretty terrible at this, I think the toddler did as good as the big kids.
The last clue the kids needed was the one to unscramble the numbers for the combination lock. The kids had gathered the numbers: 5, 2, 1, 2, 1. If you use your own combination lock obviously you’ll need to make your own clues to work with your numbers but here’s what we did:
To unlock your surprise:
- Two of the same number go together.
- The sum (adding total) of one of the numbers is 7.
- The single digit goes last.
- The sum of the first number is 2.
So, the code for the combination was: 11, 25, 2. I was very impressed with how well they did with this part.
Inside the cupboard that we had locked with the combination lock was a chocolate bunny for each kid and bubble guns.
The kids had so much fun with the hunt, I just loved watching it! I am already planning to do another escape room type scavenger hunt soon. (Ephraim’s birthday is coming up in a few weeks and I am thinking of trying to figure out a Lego themed Escape Room/Scavenger Hunt.)
Have you made an Escape Room or something similar for your kids before? I would love to hear if you have! You can also check out the first Escape Room I made for them here.
At the beginning of last week I had a random-middle-of-the-night idea to make a DIY escape room for my kids.
I’m not normally big into planning activities for my kids, Raeca often asks for a scavenger hunt for her birthday and that’s about the extent of it. But for whatever reason the idea came into my head and I got really excited about it.
I searched on Pinterest for ideas and of course I got a few ideas but there was no ready-made escape room, it was a lot of getting little ideas here and there.
I wanted to keep the escape room simple (for me) and didn’t buy any materials. The only real “necessity” for the room I made was some kind of lockable box/cupboard/etc. We have a lockable medicine box with a three digit lock that I used. Though if you want to make your own escape room you could use a combination lock or even make your own faux lock, kids just love the idea, they can use their imagination if needed.
I just used our small office as the escape room, not much space is needed for this.
Of course an escape room needs a purpose, and since I was listening to the first book in The Land of Stories at the time I decided to use a general idea from there (though I did have to switch it to fit what I had available).
To set the mood I had an app running for sound effects. The app is free and one we use for the game Fuse, it is a 10 minutes countdown timer where you are on a ship and you need to defuse the bomb before it blows. I made sure to tell my anxious girl that we weren’t paying attention to the time, it was for effect only, after it went off at 10 minutes I just restarted it (which is how I know this room took them approximately 45 minutes to escape from).
When the kids entered the room they immediately saw this written on a paper that gave them their instructions:
You’ve just broken into Queen Snow White’s Royal Room of Display and the alarm is going off. The room will self destruct (aka BLOW UP!) if you do not deactivate the alarm within 30 minutes.
You’ll need three numbers to turn off the alarm which you’ll find hidden in clues around the room, their decoders are hidden here as well.
Once you have deactivated the alarm grab Snow White’s famous apple and get out of there!
In the room I had taped up some yarn to act as the “lasers”, they had a lot of fun trying to not touch them but had they been real they would have been in pieces within a few minutes. It was a fun added element for them though.
They also quickly saw the locked box with “Snow White’s apple” – because the goal was for them to find the clues for the lock box digits I didn’t feel the need to hide the actual box (plus there weren’t really any other places where I hadn’t already hid the clues and decoders).
CLUES & DECODERS
So, then it was time to start finding the clues and decoders (there were six in all; three clues and three decoders).
I just hid these around the room, one in a drawer, one taped to the bottom of a table, one was put inside a balloon I blew up, one was under a keyboard, one wedged between two objects and the trickiest one was on my husband’s computer screen – the screen was on when they came in but they didn’t realize it was a clue and then the screen went to sleep as they searched so they needed some help finding that one.
It didn’t matter what order the papers were found in because each clue had a different decoder and I purposefully didn’t put the numbers in order, after they got the three numbers they needed to figure out the order.
It didn’t matter what order they found the clues and decoders in, each clue had it’s own decoder and I thought they could figure out pretty easy which ones went together.
The first one they found was a number line decoder. I got the printable 1-20 number line here (though you could easily make your own) and then made the clue using addition and subtraction questions (sneaking a little bit of math in there).
The first clue read: Rhymes with you. The number for that was 2.
The next clue I wrote in pigpen code that I got here. This was a fun code they enjoyed.
The clue I wrote for this one was: The number we were before R2D2. The answer is 4.
(For the record, R2D2 is our currently little foster boy.)
This one was not only the hardest clue to find it was also the hardest for them to decode. I used the binary alphabet for the code (I found an image here), but in the future I would skip the binary alphabet and probably use Morse code (here’s a printable).
This clue read: The number of one of your ages.
So, for this one they had the option of either 6 or 9. But once they realized the other numbers were 2 and 4 it was easy for them to quickly jump to 6.
OPENING THE BOX
So, once they had the numbers they decided right off the bat that 2, 4, 6 seemed like the best order and they were able to open the box! Under the apple I had put some extra secret code papers I thought they would enjoy. They were Star Wars themed, I found them on this site, though just a heads up: one of them has an error as Raeca figured out, so watch for that!
All in all the escape room probably took me about two hours to plan (from scratch) and put together. Next time it will take me way less time since I have a bit of an idea how to do it. I thought it would take them less than 30 minutes to do the room but it ended up taking closer to 45 minutes so that was a bit of a bonus.
The kids had so much fun looking for clues and doing the decoding we are totally going to do it again! The plan was for them to invite a few friends over and I would make a bigger one but now with COVID-19 changing life that will have to wait for a bit. I’ll definitely be making another one for them again soon, I may actually plan one and then save it for a day when we’re all feeling a little cooped up.
Have you ever made an escape room before? If so, I would love to hear how you did it! If not, I hope this will help you plan yours out!