Bring on summer! It has been quite a year and we are all very excited for summer break around our house. To celebrate the start of summer, I created a summer escape room for kids. It is set outside and involves lots of the great things that kids love about summer – like water balloons, water blasters and backyard fun!
If you have never created an escape room before, this is a great place to start. An escape room is an exciting and unique activity for kids and adults that encourages team building and problem solving by working through a series of puzzles. It can be done by one person, or with a group.
An escape room is similar to a scavenger hunt but set within a single room or specific area. Unlike a scavenger hunt, the challenge comes as players enter and explore a room and search for and solve puzzles. When a puzzle is solved it leads players to their next puzzle until they ‘escape’ the room.
To add to the excitement of escape rooms, there is usually a time limit set on completing the room. Typically anywhere from 30-60 minutes. Puzzles may consist of number or letter clues that may require pencil and paper or they may be hands-on clues that players manipulate in order to solve.
When done at home with kids, the room is not actually locked and help can be given by a supervising adult if player(s) get stuck. This summer escape room is set outside in a backyard space where kids can move, search and play.
As with all escape room activities adult supervision is required at all times. Make sure that all puzzles are safe and age appropriate for all players.
Escape Room Puzzle Materials
One of the great things about this escape room is that the materials you need for the escape room puzzles are fairly simple and inexpensive. When creating your own escape room, I always suggest trying to use as many things that you already have around the house.
When I started doing escape rooms, I purchased a good lock and key and number lock and have used them numerous times for my escape rooms. Links to products needed for this escape room are available at the bottom of this post.
I created a list of the materials you will need, such as 10 rocks, water balloons and salt. The list is available for (free) download along with all of the printable clues you can use for this summer escape room. There is a link at the bottom of this post to subscribe and receive all of the printables you will need.
This summer escape room can be played by one child or by many. It would also work well for a summer birthday or even at a summer camp.
Make sure to mark out boundaries so that players stay in a specific area and don’t wander outside of the playing area.
If your kids over this summer escape room, make sure to visit more escape room games from Hands-On Teaching Ideas.
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Summer Escape Room for Kids Clue #1
I started the escape room by giving my kids the first clue. It is a printable page that includes the clue “The 24th letter of the alphabet marks the spot”.
Quickly my kids worked out that the 24th letter is X. My youngest started solving it by giving a value to each letter of the alphabet and worked her way to X. Encourage any strategy children use. The fastest way is not the most important. Give children the chance to work out the puzzles.
Players quickly solved that they were looking for the letter X somewhere in the backyard.
If you have older children working to solve the escape room puzzles, you can place Xs around the yard to add to the challenge. Only one of the Xs actually lead to the next clue.
Escape Room Puzzle #2
I dug a small hole in our sand box and buried the clue in the sand. I put the sheet in a clear plastic bag just to keep it protected.
If you have older children playing, you can dig a bit deeper and if younger children are playing, you can have a little bit of the clue visible to help them find it. Small variations when hiding the clues can increase or decrease how challenging the escape room game is.
Once buried, I then drew an X over the location.
If younger children are playing, you can mark the X with stones or something else to make the X more visible.
If you don’t have a sandbox, you can simply bury the escape room puzzle in a bit of dirt or even under something else in the yard as long as you mark it with an X.
My kids found the X fairly quickly and dug it up. Once found, the page simply has 4 colors surrounded by pictures of stones/rocks.
Escape Room Puzzle #3
I painted 10 stones white and printed the numbers 1-10 on them in different colors. I then placed the rocks in the garden. The colors relate to your number lock code. You will need a 4 digit number lock. Paint the numbers on the rocks so that the first number to open your lock is red, the second number is yellow, the third is green and the last number is painted in blue. My number lock was 1934.
To make this clue more challenging, I would suggest not painting the rocks. The white paint make the rocks stand out more then I had planned. For older children, you can also hide the rocks around the yard.
Once the rocks are all found, players match the color that the number is printed in, to the colored squares on the puzzle page found in the sand box. For example, number 1 is red, 9 is yellow.
This gives players a 4 digit number code. Players race around to find what these numbers can be used for. They discover a bin locked with rope and a number lock.
The bin I used was clear so I covered it with a piece of fabric so that the contents were not visible. You don’t need to use fabric.
Escape Room Puzzle #4
Once the code from the rocks is used, players open the box to discover…
Water balloons! My kids were very excited to find these! They searched the bin and looked at each balloon. At first they didn’t find anything so they figured that they needed to pop each balloon.
As they started popping the balloons, they found that there was one balloon with something in it.
I had tied ribbon around one of the balloons and attached a key to it.
If you have older players doing the escape room, you don’t need to attach ribbon, but I worried that the key would be too difficult to find once the balloons were popped. However, this could also add to the challenge.
Once the key is discovered, players search for somewhere to use the key.
Summer Escape Room for Kids Puzzle #5
Players find their next escape room puzzle with 2 bins covered with fabric. (Again for this clue I used fabric because my bins were clear and I wanted the contents to be a surprise.)
Players quickly use their key from the water balloons to open the lock and discover one bin with water blasters and water and a printed clue on top.
I purchased a set of water blasters for this Summer Escape Room that worked well and we can use throughout the summer (a link to the blasters I used is at the bottom of this post).
Below there is another bin with only a clear plastic container with a white filling.
The clue tells players to take 2 steps back from the jar.
I marked a line in chalk on the cement in our yard to mark where players needed to stand behind.
Players then use the water blasters to squirt water into the jar. As the water enters the jar, it will soak into the filling and reveal a color. Depending on your kids aim, this can take awhile, but that’s part of the fun, and challenge.
Magic Color Clue
The filling is simply salt and food coloring. I started by mixing salt and food coloring together in a bowl. Once mixed, I packed it into a large circular cookie cutter that I had placed into a bowl.
I filled the cookie cutter with the colored salt and then put plain salt all around the green salt and covered it.
At first, the green is not visible in the jar, but when the water from the water blasters enters the jar it begins to mix and the color will be reveled.
Depending on the color revealed, players are lead to their final clue. On the page the green color leads to “somewhere you sit outside“.
This ended up being a really interesting clue and my kids’ favorite.
To make it more challenging, you can attach a piece of aluminum foil or plastic wrap to the top with only a small opening cut out. This way it is more challenging for players to get the water from the water plasters into the jar for the color to appear.
I tested this escape room puzzle out several times before using it in our escape room. When doing this puzzle, make sure to use as much colored salt as possible. If you only have a small amount of colored salt in the middle, the color will not appear properly.
Try to have the colored salt fill the jar as much as possible, but still be able to put a layer of salt around and on top so that the color is not visible at the start. Also, make sure to add a lot of food coloring so that the color is bold.
Summer Escape Room for Kids #6
There are four different colors that are on the printed puzzle page depending on the color that appears. You can make your salt whatever color you want depending on which clue suits you/your yard best.
Our filling turned green, so my kids searched around something to sit on.
They looked under our chair and discovered their final prize and certificates!
Escape Room for Kids Printables
You can download all of the printables used in the above escape room, by clicking the “Subscribe Today” image below.
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Escape Room for Kids Tips
My kids ended up solving this escape room quite fast – faster then I expected. If you have done escape rooms before or are working with a larger, or older, group of children, you can add some extra puzzles to the escape room for players to solve. The more puzzles, the longer the escape room will take and the more challenging it will become.
If you want to add to the room, below is a printable escape room that can also be done outside. If you want to extend your escape room challenge, you can add the clues from the printable escape room below to the escape room above.
As long as each clue leads to another clue, you can make your summer escape room as long, and as challenging as you like.
This is a great way to spend some time outside this summer. The teacher in me loves it because children are problem solving and working together to solve puzzles. They also get to do it in a hands-on and creative way.
Print and Play Printable Escape Room
If you like the idea of creating an escape room for kids outside, but don’t have the time to put it together and create the clues, a printable escape room may be a great fit for you. I created a Print and Play Outdoor Escape Room.
Simply print the pages/puzzles, place them around an outdoor space, and you are ready to go. No keys, locks or any special materials are required. Print and play in minutes. Click image for product description.
Summer Learning Packet
Continue learning during the summer and avoid the summer slide. One math and one literacy based activity each day for 10 minutes a day. This keeps kids learning and prepares them for the next school year. Ideal for children in kindergarten going into grade 1.
Summer Escape Room for Kids Supplies
You don’t need a lot of supplies for the escape room, but I did have a few that I purchased in order to create the room. You can purchase some of the items below.
For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases and I may earn a small commission at no cost to you.
More Hands-On Teaching Ideas
If you are looking for more escape room for kids ideas or learning activities to do at home, or in the classroom, below is a collection of my favourite and most popular activities. From a collection of escape room puzzles to STEM building activities and science experiments, there is lots to keep kids busy and learning.