Diving into your first Breakout EDU game can seem like a daunting task. However, once you get started, you realize how powerful Breakout EDU can be in your classroom. To help you get started we've gathered tips from fellow Breakout EDU community members of facilitaing your first game.  

  • Jo-Ann Blinkey Fox: I always explain that a successful game relies on good communication. And good communication requires two things: 1. The ability to share your idea clearly and (the MOST important component) 2. The ability to listen to other's ideas.And afterwards I tell them we will reflect about their communication skills. Gives them something to think about
  • Rachel Livesey: I generally introduce the game to them prior to presenting them with a game. Depending on the group, we may complete a puzzle as a task… You can present students with 1-2 puzzles prior to setting them off into a group breakout. I think the key is getting them comfortable with inquiring and collaborating while building their own self efficacy.
  • Rita Hennessey: I emphasize the collaboration and communication aspects, and that respectful teamwork is more important than being the first to finish.
  • Sandi Berg: Don't include prizes in the box. Prizes end up being the end goal instead of group success.
  • Leah Herold: For our elementary kids we introduced by telling them they would be doing a game of problem solving. The 3 big concepts we were going to practice were teamwork, perseverance and problem solving. We also reminded them that they weren't competing against the other groups, but that they are competing against the clock…. 
  • Danielle Conlen Sabato: Set off limits areas. My high school kids got into EVERYTHING the first time because they thought it all was a clue.
  • Mattie Olsen: I teach 10th and 12th grade boys. I don't tell them much at all. I like to see them try to struggle through it and figure it out on their own. The very first time, I showed them this video I made and answered any general questions. I told them off limits areas or concepts (like don't disassemble a desk) and allowed them to ask general questions, but I refused to answer many of them saying, "you'll discover that." I showed them the locks…. 
  • Rebecca Root: For elementary, introduce all the locks and give them a chance to try them - reduces stress and accidental resets.
  • Dana Stenzel:  Teach them how to properly use locks before they get started. Let them each try to open them all knowing the combination.
  • Becky Brennecke Muller: For K-1, beginning with a guided Breakout EDU game with individual and group clues were successful as we introduced/reinforced concepts of cooperation and inquiry.
  • Lisa Suhr:  Plan for documenting your experience with photos and/or video. It is easy for the teacher/facilitator to get wrapped up in the enthusiasm and management and miss some great things to share later. If you have an extra adult, maybe make it their "job." Also: resist the urge to help too much! And one final one: I put the combinations, codes, etc on a small note paper and stick in my pocket so I can quickly check…. 
  • Dianna Ross Chamberlain:  Collect the locks as soon as they are opened! Students are fascinated by the locks and could unknowingly reset the combination…. One of the hardest parts for the facilitator is to keep your mouth shut during the game. It is important to let the struggle happen. Students aren't always used to struggling as much as they will during a BreakoutEDU game, but the pride they will feel when they succeed is a great payoff. Have a camera ready to capture their faces when they realize they have figured it out...without your help! Those moments are priceless.
  • Jessica Marie: I start with puzzles as warm ups for a few days and the first Breakout EDU game  we do isn't content related but more a breakout to help them experience what a breakout is and can be. Then as the year progresses we do content Breakout EDU games. 
  • Shai McGowan: I don't tell my 7-11th graders much at all. I read the story line, and tell them they have to figure out the clues. I do say that the clues can be high, low, this area, that area, etc, but don't tell them what the clues are.
  • Jason Jacobs: Build it up, don't do it the first day. Talk about hollow victories and taking pride into solving each Clue. No guessing-  it takes away from the fun. Stay positive and embrace the chaos. Don't give up. If you get stuck, move on and go back to it. Have fun! 
  • Jana Rogers: Smaller groups work better. Have teams divided by color.
  • Jennifer Zimny: Tell students they WILL get frustrated at points but not to give up. That way the expectation is set for them that this won't be easy all the way through and they are going to have to think!
  • Lisa Browne Joiner: I wrote on the board "Breakout in 30 days," and counted down. They had no idea what it was, but it built excitement. They did nothing to practice//prepare...just came in and there it was. It was brand new to both them and me. Somehow, we all survived...and did at least one breakout a month the rest of the year.
  • Dana Sides Pressnell: Demonstrate how to open the different locks - where to line up the numbers etc. 
  • Donna Wells: For elementary kiddos... smaller groups work much better. Also found it helpful to work through one puzzle "together" in steps so every group opened a lock. Then started the timer.
  • Chuck N Lisa Creamer: Reflection is key!
  • Ronda Gamble: Set boundaries for the kids. That will save them time and you from them getting into things that they don't need to get into. Explain how each of the locks work. Explain the importance of working together and dividing up the tasks…. Have a lock parking lot and explain to the students to leave the locks unlocked and placed immediately on the parking lot....
  • Alissa Schoblaski Johnson: Most of my students (high school) have never done an escape room before so it wasn't helpful to say, "it's an escape room for the classroom." It helped my students understand the end goal better to explain the general concept and show them a video of an escape room before I explained the rules of the Breakout EDU game. 
  • Jodi Miller Foreman: For my 1st and 2nd graders, I put out the locks with a simple code and told them it was "improving fine motor skills practice." They learned how the locks worked. Then one day, all the locks were in a box... they could focus on the puzzles and not the locks.

New to Breakout EDU? Get started here. 

NEW: Breakout EDU Groups

As the Facebook group grew larger and larger it became difficult to have more focused discussions. Each subject group will allow educators to collaborate on puzzles, game ideas, debrief activities, and facilitation tips specific to that area.

You can a join a group here:

We also created the Getting Started with Breakout EDU  group as a place you can direct people. Our hope is to reduce the number or repeat questions and topics.

Groups are created based on community interest. If you don’t see a group that you’re looking for, complete this form and we’ll create it once there is enough demand.


Five tips for facilitating your first game

1. Set the tone for the game: How you introduce the game to your players is important. Make sure the players know that the objective the game is to solve the puzzles in order to open the box. Point out that the objective is NOT to get into the box by any means necessary--this will cut down on players looking for shortcuts.  

2. Use a lock parking lot: A lock parking lot is a spot in the room where players place the locks once they solve that puzzle. This will eliminate accidental resetting of the locks.

3. Keep a poker face: Players will look to the facilitator for free hints and suggestions. When the players need your help they can use one of their two hint cards.

4. Leave time for a debrief: The debrief activities are sometimes even more valuable the the game itself. One option is to use the Breakout EDU Reflection Cards to facilitate the discussion.

5. Avoid prizes: The best games have a story that leaves the players satisfied by playing. Relying on physical prizes in the box can reduce engagement in future games.

5 Tips for Designing Your First Game

  1. Story! Story! Story! All great Breakout EDU games have a narrative. Why is there a locked box? Why do they need to open it?

  2. Avoid depending on prizes. All games should end with the conclusion of the story. It’s a slippery slope with prizes

  3. Puzzles that require critical thinking. As much as possible, avoid puzzles where the solution is a simple date or number hidden with text make your players think critically and require making connections between clues and puzzles.

  4. Variety of puzzle types: Great games feature a variety of puzzle types. Some may require translation or making connections prior learning, while others might require careful reading.

  5. Meaningful Reflection Activities. Breakout EDU games allow you to see your learners through a different lens. Have your players reflect on their experience, making observations on their teamwork and problem solving strategies. How would they attack the problem different in the future.

You can get started at

LOCKS App Update

On October 30th our iOS app, Locks, stopped working properly.

We are aware of the issue and are working with the web host to figure out how to fix the problem and get the app up and running again. 

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and as always, we appreciate your support and understanding.



Game Creator Bill of Rights

Game Creator Bill of Rights

Game Creator “Bill of Rights”

Adopted: August 15, 2016

It is exciting to see so many educators creating and sharing their games on the Breakout EDU platform. The games have brought countless hours of immersive learning experiences to children and educators around the world. We wanted to share this Breakout EDU Game Creator “Bill of Rights”. We value what you have created and wanted to share how we will help protect your work.


  1. If you choose to create and share on the Breakout EDU platform, you retain the rights to the content and control over the work.

  2. You can remove the game from the platform should you want it to no longer remain public.


  1. Games are not allowed to be played during paid events without consent of the game maker and Breakout, Inc.

  2. Accessing another's Breakout EDU game and posting the contents of it on other platforms is not allowed.

  3. Posting Breakout EDU content (games, presentations, etc.) that was not directly created by you on another site for sale is prohibited.


  1. If you remix another member’s game, feel free to submit the altered version to the Breakout EDU game library. Be sure to include the fact that this game is an adaptation. Be sure to cite the original game title and its creator.

If you discover any example where your, or another user’s, rights have been violated. Please contact info@BreakoutEDU and we will work to resolve the matter.

We look forward to seeing more games that you create and continuing to supporting classrooms that believe it is time for something different.

- Team Breakout EDU

Patti Harju Joins Breakout EDU Team!

Patti facilitating a Breakout EDU game with her students.

Patti facilitating a Breakout EDU game with her students.

It is with great pleasure that we announce that Patti Harju has joined the Breakout EDU team as our first Director of Games. Patti brings with her more than 30 years of education experience and helped pioneer the use of Breakout EDU in the classroom.

We met Patti through her leadership in the Breakout EDU Facebook community. She’s gone above and beyond in supporting teachers and helping to bring Breakout EDU games into their classrooms. Her games have inspired other teachers to take the leap and design games of their own.

Patti's students after finishing Time Warp. 

Patti's students after finishing Time Warp. 

Patti not only shares our vision for doing things differently, she has proven through her work at the St. Stephen School that fun and engaging can be synonymous with meaningful learning.

In March she organized both a school-wide Breakout EDU game as well as facilitate a game for the entire staff.

We can’t wait to see what Patti builds here at Breakout EDU!

Welcome to the team, Patti!


April 1 Breakout EDU Newsletter

Happy April from Breakout EDU!

We are over the moon with excitement for your support of Breakout EDU. Every day, thousands of students around the world are playing learning games and collaborating with their peers rather than sitting in rows, bubbling in worksheets. You are proving that learning and fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

And now, we have some awesome announcements for you!

We Have A Bus

We are excited to share that the Breakout EDU Bus, a mobile escape room learning experience, will be hitting the road on May 1! The bus will be leaving Maine and making it’s way across the country to the ISTE conference in Denver by June 26. We will be stopping at schools and hosting educational nights at local escape rooms. Complete this form if you’re interested in learning more.

We Have an App

Tired of your directional lock jamming? There’s an app for that! We are excited to finally be able to tell you that we are building an app! We are building a “Locks” app that can be use to create a lock for your next game. The app will launch for iOS in early May. Be sure to check the community for more information in the coming weeks. 

We Have New Swag

We hear you loud and clear! It’s time for more swag. Starting today, there are two new items in the Breakout EDU store, an awesome t-shirt (in men and women's fit) and a hoodie.

Join the more than 4,000 educators that are part of our Breakout EDU Global Community. We love seeing how you are using Breakout EDU to create engaging learning experiences for your students.

It’s time for something different.


#BreakoutEDU Twitter Chat

On Tuesday January 26th the first #BreakoutEDU Twitter chat took place. Over 50 people from around the world took part in the chat, all with varying levels of BreakoutEDU experience. Here are some highlights from the inaugural chat. We look forward to our next chat on February 9th at 6pm PST. 

We look forward to the next chat on February 9th at 6pm PST. It will be the first chat of a four part series in which we discuss the different audineces for #BreakoutEDU. This first chat will focus on Elementary students. 

Want to help influence future chats, please complete our 1 question Google Form.

View the chat transcript here.

View resources shared during the chat here

February Newsletter

We continue to be blown away by the interest in Breakout EDU. At present, there are roughly 3,000  Breakout EDU kits in the wild, with thousands of students playing Breakout EDU games in their classes every day. Mark has been working hard to catch up on U.S. orders; our goal is to ship kits within 3-7 days of ordering.  Stay tuned!

Breakout EDU Homework

I’m excited to share that on February 7 we will be launching Breakout EDU Homework. Homework is rarely engaging, and it’s hard to come up with a new assignment every night (not to mention grade!). The goal of Breakout EDU Homework is to design engaging global homework assignments that can be assigned by teachers. We plan on creating the first few, then opening it up to community-designed challenges. New challenges will be posted every Monday. We envision this being something that’ll be fun for the whole family to complete together!

Growing the Team

We’ve been slowly growing the Breakout EDU team. A shout out to Patti Harju and Lynne Herr from the community who have joined the game team! Patti will be overseeing the review of games for the official directory and Lynne will be managing the community games. Our aim is to improve the ease of discovering new games in the directory and to simplify/standardize the setup and directions for playing the community games.

Tyler Pincus, our Breakout EDU Intern, will be managing a variety of special projects. Tyler is a freshman at The Minerva Project (an awesome “startup” university)and is focused on learning more about the role of technology in education and building startups.


We’ve joined forces with BirdBrain Education to begin designing games aligned to curricular areas and educational standards. The first games will be designed for the History of the Roman Empire. We plan on begin testing the games later this month. Email if you are interested in being involved with the project.

School-Wide Breakouts

In March, Mark and I are headed to London to facilitate a school-wide Breakout EDU activity with 125 year seven students. Students will be divided into small groups and will have two hours to navigate a series of puzzles in order to open the mystery chest. The game is designed to teach students digital citizenship, foreign language, geography, and how to use their iPads in on-demand learning environments. Reach out to me ( if you are interested in setting up something similar for your school.

Multiple-Location Breakout Games

This weekend Mark and I decided to try something different when facilitating Time Warp. Check it out!

Meet the #BreakoutEDU Twitter Chat Moderators

BreakoutEDU Twitter Chat Logo

Nikole Blanchard posted a question to the over 2,000 facebook group members asking if anyone was interested in a twitter chat for breakout edu. In no time this question was answered by several people. Over the next few days the support continued to grow and people started volunteering to help lead this group. As we prepare for this inaugural event on Tuesday, January 26th, 2016 we thought it would be good to get to know our three moderators who will be helping lead this chat. 

Hi I’m Ariana Flewelling but you can call me EdTechAri or Ari for short. I am a Staff Development Specialist for the Innovation and Learner Engagement division at Riverside Unified School District (RUSD). In short, I’m a educational technology implementation coach/TOSA for K-12 teachers. I've been using BreakoutEDU since May of 2014 and am excited to participate in the community in a new way.

Prior to working in RUSD, I was a Teacher on Assignment within the Colton Joint Unified School District (CJUSD), as the Secondary Technology Coach. When I  was in the classroom I taught high school English and helped write CJUSD’s 9th grade CCSS transition plan.

I am also a level two Google Educator, Google Educator Trainer, and future Google Innovator #MTV16. In addition, I’ve earned the Master of Educational Technology degree from Boise State University. Outside of work, I am an active member of CUE, current Inland Area Affiliate President, and ISTE. In my free time I like to play Mass Effect on my Xbox and connect with others via Twitter.

Hi, I’m Nikole Blanchard a Technology Director at a one-to-one private PK-12 school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My school is the only school in Louisiana that has been recognized five consecutive times as an Apple Distinguished School. The program is unique because it is one-to-one technology 1st grade-12th grade. Prior to this role, I taught elementary grades for 8 years. 

Being rather new to Breakout Edu, I wanted to learn more so I turned to social media. After posting a question on Facebook it eventually led to the creation of this Twitter chat! I’m extremely passionate about connecting with other educators and look forward to learning together!

I’m Nationally Board Certified, an Apple Distinguished Educator and Google Certified Educator, Level 2. I also have my Masters in Educational Technology from Louisiana State University.  

Outside of work, I stay busy with two little ones! I also travel at least three times a month to New Orleans - an hour away from Baton Rouge - to visit family. Yes, I am a YAT!

I’m Travis Lape a Technology Integrationist with the Harrisburg Schools District. I work with staff to integrate technology into their classrooms.  I also helped transform our media center to create new learning environments. One of the biggest changes for our space was our makerspace. This space is an area where our students are able to tinker, innovate, and create projects that they are passionate about.  Along with this I am constantly working with teachers to transform their own spaces to help all our learners.

Prior to working in Harrisburg, I was a 4th grade teacher with the Sioux Falls School District. 

Outside of work, I am enjoy going to the lake with my family, and playing golf. We recently adopted a 8 month old little boy named DJ. He has blessed our family in so many ways.

We look forward to exploring BreakoutEDU with you and thank you for joining us on this journey.

100 Box Project (Guest Post)

By Ryan Knight, The Bowman School

Have you ever had a project where you set out to give back, but along the way you end up receiving your own special gifts?  That just recently happened to me, with a project combining the Bowman School wood-shop and Breakout EDU.  

During the summer, I went to the #gafesummit in Palo Alto, CA.  I participated in one of their Breakout sessions, and I was hooked.  At the end of the session, I spoke with James Sanders and Mark Hammons about the possibility of my students building some of the breakout boxes for Breakout EDU.  It was just an off the cuff statement, and I had not put a lot of forethought into the idea.  Mark said to contact him, and we could work something out.  I sent  James and Mark a follow-up email, and the plan to build 100 boxes was born.

I proposed the idea to two of my elder (8th grader) wood-shop students, and off we went (naively) to build 100 boxes.  We made some estimations and bought our first load of lumber.   When we got back to school, I receive the first gift from this project.

The first gift was in the form of a student who normally does not engage in any activity who ended up taking the lead on this project.  “Freeman” is the type of student who likes to linger on the edge and not really get involved, put himself out there, or take any risks.  However, when we got back to school, he leads a group of students to unload the wood, and he helped direct where to stack it.  After we finished, I spoke one-on-one with Freeman and told him it was clear he was going to be the lead on this project.  I expected him to give me some reasons why he couldn’t do it, but I got a big”OK” instead.  It just proves that if you give your students real projects and real responsibilities, they will rise up to the challenge.

Next, we planned out our cut lines and set ourselves up to make a prototype box.  I was working with three students and we discovered that it was very important to make sure we were all working with the same units of measurement.  One of the students was using a metric tape measure …… oops.  This lead to a fantastic teachable moment about checking scale, units, and verifying your measurements, aka “measure twice, cut once.”  In all my years teaching shop, this experience helped demonstrate the concept better than anything I had tried in the past. We fixed the unit issue, made adjustments, and got our first few boxes completed.  

Later that afternoon, we had a follow-up discussion (the real Socratic method) on the quality of the boxes, developing a critical eye, and the best methods for construction.  We decided to do an assembly line approach and to open the project up to all ages that wanted to build a box.  Bowman is a K-8th grade school.  As we started the next phase of the project, I named the initial group of 3 students the Big 3.  We gave daily lessons on working with tools and proper box construction.  A few days into this phase of the project, I received another gift.  

One of the Big 3, “Madden," had one of the worst days ever while trying to assemble some of the boxes.  He ended up splitting five sides for the boxes and put the hinges on the wrong end of the only box he completed.  He wanted to quit the project, but I would not let him.  We had a conversation about his struggles and I told him I wanted him to push through and figure out a way to contribute to  this project. Madden decided he could contribute as a safety officer, watching to make sure people are working safely, and help build with the younger students.  Madden not only became an excellent safety officer he also became a requested helper with our youngest contributors.  Because of Madden’s experiences accidentally destroying some of the boxes, he was able to have real empathy for the students who were struggling with the construction. When something broke or did not go as planned Madden let them know it happens to all of us.

These are just two quick examples of the gifts we received from this project.

Where have things gone since we finished the 100 box project?  I now have a list of students signed up to build their own boxes with customized transfer images. Some of the older students have made their own boxes and added security systems with buzzers, and key switches.  A group of younger students brag that they have made real things (the boxes we shipped) and are taking orders for other projects to build. Other students  have started to make their own versions of the breakout game too.

I would like to extend a deeply heartfelt THANK YOU to Breakout Edu for taking a chance on us.  James and Mark have been so generous sharing their ideas, expertise, and techniques.  They made it easy to transfer the information to the students.

I am also happy to share more details about building the boxes, what worked and what did not,  and other gifts this project gave to us.

I can be reached at

If you receive one of the boxes that we built, we would love to hear where it ended up.  You will know it was made by us because it will have  ”Built by the Bowman School” on the bottom.  

Inquiry Learning by Breaking Out of the Box (GUEST POST)


I want to introduce you to Kelly Kermode, Integrated Learning Strategist at Forest Hills Public Schools in the greater Grand Rapids area.  Kelly is an educator who has been in a number of roles for the past 16 years and is a Google Certified InnovatorAdobe Education Leader and MACUL Special Interest Group leader… along with about 15 other things. She is always looking for innovative ways to engage students in their learning to reach higher outcomes.

In late November, I visited Kelly in her native environment-that is, at a school and as usual, up to her elbows in making school more awesome for kids. On this day, she was deploying a very cool inquiry based learning adventure called Breakout EDU.

BreakoutEDU started as an idea pitched by James Sanders at the Illinois Future Ready Schools summit in 2015.  James is currently the Chief Innovation Officer, EdTechTeam.

At the keynote, James shared his idea about what are called “breakout rooms” and gave background about how they all came about. He went on to explain that there are these escape rooms around the world where you pay to get “locked in” a room with friends and try to escape by solving puzzles and unlocking codes. There was even an episode of Big bang Theory around this game.

James was with some high school students in Edmonton, Canada playing one of these escape room games and he was amazed at how engaged and hard these students were working to solve the puzzle during this game. James wanted to turn this incredible learning experience of problem solving and fun and into something that can be used in the classroom.

Shortly after, James launched the BreakoutEDU website which includes links to pre-created learning adventures and turn-key kits so you can run your own BreakoutEDU game.

How breakouts are being used

Breakouts are being used to teach core academic subjects including math, science, history, and language arts. Each adventure has embedded standards that apply problem solving strategies within a real world OR collaborative context.

A feature of BreakoutEDU is that the quest to solve the mysteries is very much rooted in inquiry based learning where learning or solving a particular problem revolves solving a central question.

The framework of the learning game ensures that Involvement that leads to understanding, and that players are Converting information and data into useful knowledge.  The learning is centered around the process of figuring the problem out, all in a student centered, collaborative manner.

As you watch the game unfold, you will see the learners collaborate, question, investigate, and observe each other’s thinking.

For more information on how you too can make the magic happen in your classroom, check out these resources:

BreakoutEDU Webpage –
BreakoutEDU Facebook Group
BreakoutEDU Overview 
BreakoutEDU Interview

Ron Houtman – @ronhoutman

(GUEST POST) Explain Everything: BreakoutEDU


by Reshan Richards, Co-Founder Explain Everything

I was at the #TiES15 conference in Minneapolis, MN for the past couple of days learning and sharing with a really terrific group of educators from the region. I had written previously here about ordering a BreakoutEDU kit (which is currently on backorder due to high demand). They do provide the resources and information for a DIY kit, but I like the nice lock box they provide so I will happily wait.

On the conference schedule I saw that there were sessions about BreakoutEDU running during each block and I managed to get into one of the sessions which were all capped at 15 people.

It turns out one of the creators of BreakoutEDU was in fact facilitating the sessions which was pretty cool.

You can learn more about BreakoutEDU from their website, but essentially it is a toolkit for designing a blended physical and virtual space puzzle while weaving in content-related themes into the tasks needed to "break out.." It follows the popularity of Escape the Roomevents.

I had a hunch that Explain Everything would be a good complimentary tool for BreakoutEDU, but once we actually jumped into the game my hunch was totally validated. I found that being able to take pictures of puzzles, sketch out notes and ideas, look things up on the internet, and try to connect clues and identify patterns were all things needed to succeed in the game. Of course team work and communication were also vital parts when trying to make sense of puzzling artifacts. Below is a screenshot of my scratch space I used while trying to help our group solve the puzzle (which we did in 28:43!).

I think other people will still be doing this exact game today at the conference so I don't want to post any spoilers. But once a game is complete, there is an opportunity to record and reflect on the processes and to orally untangle the clues that were documented and added to the stage.

Guest Post: You Had Me at Breakout

Maria Galanis is a member of the Breakout EDU community and this is a blog post she originally posted on her personal blog. See other posts from her personal blog here. Thanks Maria! 

Back in March of this year at the Future Ready Schools Summit at Leyden High School, I attended one of the featured speaker sessions led by James Sanders. It was a great session with lots of takeaways about meaningful digital learning. My biggest takeaway though, was one of the last things he mentioned in the session. 

I looked back at my notes and this is the last thing I typed... “Breakout room idea”.

James shared with us this breakout room idea and gave us a little background about how this all came about. He went on to explain to us that there are these escape rooms around the world where you pay to get “locked in” a room with friends and try to escape by solving puzzles and unlocking codes. He was in Edmonton, Canada, with some high school students playing one of these escape games and he was amazed at how hard these students were working during this game. James wanted to turn this incredible learning experience of problem solving and fun and into something that can be used in the classroom. I left there super excited about this.

"You had me at Breakout!"

Soon after the summit, BreakoutEDU launched!

General info about BreakoutEDU:


  • How does it work? These are challenge escape games. Players solve clues in order to open locks and "breakout" of a room. Watch this quick video from the BreakoutEDU site to learn more: How BreakoutEDU Works
  • Why play? BreakoutEDU offers players a fun and exciting way to strengthen skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, logic, creativity, communication, collaboration... so many skills necessary to for us to have. Did I mention fun? Playing a challenging BreakoutEDU game is such a fun and exciting way to strengthen skills without even realizing learning is happening. 
  • Who can play? BreakoutEDU games can be played by adults for team-building and collaboration or in class with students. Playing with adults is not only so much fun, but also a great way to have them experience it first hand so if they want to have students play, they understand exactly what it entails. And, giving students this fun learning experience which can be so different from what they’re used to, sparks a new energy and excitement for them. 
  • What subjects can you use these games in? Although many of the games available on BreakoutEDU are linked to a specific content area, they can be played by any subject. The beauty of these challenge games are the higher-order thinking skills involved and because of this they can be integrated in many ways. 

Over the summer, I purchased a BreakoutEDU kit. School started up again and it was time to decide when to give this a try. Each month in my district, the iCoaches get together to collaborate. I thought our first meeting together would be a perfect opportunity to play BreakoutEDU. Once we set the date, my fellow iCoach, Nikki Tye and I, started planning away. 

How we planned: 

  1. First, we searched for the right game to use. On the BreakoutEDU site you’ll find the games available now. New games will be added as they are developed. We decided on using “Time Warp” a game where players are lost in time and need to navigate the history of communication in order to return to the present. 
  2. Next, we started organizing the materials needed for the game. Each kit comes standard with items in it such as locks, a black flashlight, an invisible pen, hint cards, and more. All of these items can be used with each of the different challenge games. In addition to the items in the kit, the game instructed us to print out various digital items that we’d use. 
  3. Finally, to make things fun, we made some big bright signs for the players to hold up afterwards. Signs were made for a successful escape and unsuccessful escape. 

The day came to play BreakoutEDU with the iCoaches! Nikki and I, as the facilitators, introduced the game to the group and explained the objective which was to solve the clues in order to unlock the BreakoutEDU box so they could escape. We started the game timer and let them go. It was fascinating to see how things rolled out. Their energy and dedication to succeed was exciting to witness. What a fantastic way to use logic and higher-order thinking and such a great way to work as a team. 

With 24 seconds left on the clock, they opened the final lock. They escaped!

After having the iCoaches play, our mission was to get BreakoutEDU into a classroom with students. We reached out to a teacher and immediately after hearing about it, he was sold and couldn’t wait to try BreakoutEDU with his students! 

Our first group of students to try this were a group of 7th grade social studies students in Tom Samorian’s class. We split one class into two smaller groups and each group played Time Warp.

As facilitators, we didn’t give any clues away, but we did monitor the students' progress in order to help guide them. The students in each group escaped (and both student groups finished faster than the adult iCoaches). 

The feedback we heard from students was so positive. We heard they couldn’t wait to do this again, that it was so much fun doing something different like this, they loved that they had to “think out-of-the-box”, and they were so intrigued after solving one clue that they couldn’t wait to try solving the next. We debriefed with the teacher as well about how everything went. One exciting take-away was that he wants to design his own game to use in his future lessons. At some point our hope is to give students an option to design their own game to put the learning in their own hands. The wonderful thing about this is that when we give students chances like this, what they show us in return can be pretty amazing. 

We are already planning our next lesson with an 8th grade science teacher and her classes. And, coming soon, our principal is letting us take over one of our staff meetings for all staff to play. We cannot wait for that!

Hearing and seeing the student and adult reactions reinforced that playing BreakoutEDU escape games could bring so much to learning. How great it is to be given an opportunity to apply past knowledge and make connections in order to solve new problems. Using problem-solving, critical thinking, logic, creativity, communication, collaboration...these are the skills we strive to have in our lives!

Little By Little (Oct 25 Newsletter)

The above map shows all the places that have purchased a Breakout EDU kit so far!

The above map shows all the places that have purchased a Breakout EDU kit so far!

Little by Little

Before we get to all the exciting updates, I want to take a moment to celebrate how quickly our Breakout EDU community has grown! In just seven months, Breakout EDU has gone from two people brainstorming about learning games into a movement with hundreds of educators worldwide determined to prove that learning, rigor, and fun are not mutually exclusive. We want to say thank you!

We can’t wait to see where this journey takes us.

New (BETA) Games

I am excited to share that there are now 5 new games in the Breakout EDU game directory. All of the new games are labeled “in beta” and will be reviewed by Game Masters in the coming weeks. Once a game makes it out of beta, it will be added to the game directory. (Game Masters, expect an email later this week on how the review process will work). A few more games will be added later today and tomorrow!

Community Call Wednesday 10/28

I will be hosting a Breakout EDU community call on Wednesday, October 28th, at 4:30 PM Pacific Time. We will be posting the video recording of the call to the Breakout EDU blog and the Facebook community on Thursday. Add your email address in the comments on the community call page if you want to be on the video call. You don’t need to do anything to view the call.

Growing the Team

As many of you know, Mark Hammons has volunteered many hours building, filling, and shipping Breakout EDU boxes. I am excited to share that on November 1st, Mark will be joining the team as co-founder, overseeing operations and helping me with strategic planning.  In addition to being an amazing teammate and incredibly hard worker, Mark is one of nicest guys you will ever meet. We couldn’t be more excited to have him on the team.

Breakout EDU Events

Many of you have brought Breakout EDU to various events around the world, including EdCamps, Google Summits, and local conferences.  We have created an events calendar to help get the word out about your event. Please complete this form if you want your event listed.  We are officially planning on having Breakout EDU gatherings at FETC, ICE, and ISTE (just to name a few).

Sneak Preview

In next week’s newsletter, I will be sharing all of the exciting student work that has been happening around the world.


Have a great week,


Breakout EDU Game Design Incentives

Here is the template you need to complete in order to submit your game to the Breakout EDU Game Directory for review. 




Breakout EDU games are a lot of fun and we recognize that many of you put a lot of time and effort into designing great games.

We're excited to offer the Breakout EDU Game Design Incentive program. 

How it works

We currently have a program to reward people for designing their own games. The game creators retain all ownership over their games and can choose to remove them from the directory upon request.


  • First game submitted and accepted into the directory*: Breakout EDU T-Shirt (changes based on availability and new designs)
  • Second game submitted and accepted into the directory*: Breakout EDU Sweatshirt
  • Third game submitted and accepted into the directory*: A complete Hard Plastic Breakout EDU kit

*only applies to games in the official directory, not the sand box

** Currently, we only have the capacity to reward the first three games. 


My Breakout EDU Contest

Tell your story. Win a Free Breakout EDU kit.

From the beginning we created Breakout EDU as a community-first project with a singular objective: bring gaming to every classroom in a meaningful way.

More than anything, Breakout EDU is a collection of amazing educators passionate about teaching and learning – folks who are always looking for new ways to push the status quo.  We would like to recognize these awesome teachers, leaders, and instructional coaches through a new campaign we’re calling, "My Breakout EDU".

Whether you have a kit from us or have put together the open sourced version, we want the community to know you. We encourage you to decorate your Breakout EDU kit, however you see fit. Don't be afraid to go wild! I challenge Adam Bellow and his kids to put together a Star Wars-themed one! Chris Scott, maybe a Minecraft one?

(LINK: How we transfer permanent images from paper to the Breakout EDU boxes.)

How to Enter

To keep things simple, we’ve put together this form with a few questions. We’ll start posting the profiles Monday, September 28. You need to complete the form in order to enter.


First Prize: The Breakout EDU community member with the best kit decoration will win a free Breakout EDU kit for the teacher or school of their choice.  You can even keep it for yourself if you’re current in the classroom and need an additional box.  

Second Prize: We're going to be ordering Breakout EDU t-shirts in the next few weeks and we'll send you one! 

Entries are open until October 15.


How to Transfer Images to a Breakout EDU Box

When we first explored the idea of making a box, our original plan was to burn the logo into each box, but once we started looking into it, we discovered a much simpler solution that allowed us to apply the logos much quicker. We hope you'll use our same techniques to customize your Breakout EDU box! 

Step 1: The first step is to find the image that you want on the box. Below we have the Breakout EDU logo. We’ve flipped it horizontally so that when we transfer it from the paper to the wood it will appear correctly. (Here's a free online photo editor you can use to flip your images horizontally

Step 2: Print the image using a toner printer (ink jet does not transfer as well). 

Step 3: Secure the paper to the wood where you want the logo. Make sure you tape down at least one side so that the paper does not move while transferring. 

Step 4: Using the wood burner, with the wide circle tip, press firmly down on the paper, moving the burner around to heat up every part of the image that you’re looking to transfer. If the burner is too hot, it’ll burn the wood. To reduce the heat, rub the burner on another piece of wood. The temp will slowly come down. You should experiment on another piece of wood (or the bottom of the Breakout EDU box) before doing it with your actual graphic. You should only use the paper once, since most of the toner will have transferred to the wood. 

Step 5: Share your awesome creations online (especially the Breakout EDU Facebook group!) 

This is the wood burner that we use. It’s currently $18.49 USD on Amazon (link below):