Cracking the Case: How One Educator Transformed Her Classroom into Escape Room Style Fun

On a steamy July day, a group of middle-school students enter a classroom for a summer school course.  Given the times, they are asked to wear masks and social distance.  They’d like to spend time outside but the heat makes that nearly impossible. 

Lucky for this group of students in Valencia Spain, their teacher is Maria Chimenti.  When they enter the classroom, it feels very different.  Today, that classroom has been transformed into the mysterious Lux Museum and each student in class today will take on the role of detective.

Senora Chimenti is the kind of educator we should all experience at least once in our lifetime.  She’s the type of teacher that you remember for her efforts, her style and for how much she truly cares.

Maria built the game into a week-long festivity celebrating museums. “On Monday, we talked about museums and what type of museums they like visiting. On Tuesday, we talked about family and cool jobs that are appreciated in museums. On Friday, we had our detective party! I decorated the classroom. I made a board with the family members and put some sentences on the walls such as ‘Where’s the owl?’ and ‘What’s wrong with Kieran?'” explains Maria.

Throughout the day, each student will be handed instruments to help solve a case.  They receive a poem that spells out clues, model statues, parts of a map, miniature paintings and a couple of cypher wheels.  It becomes obvious that today is not a pencil and paper type of day.  Instead, students will work to uncover lost treasure in this makeshift museum, solving puzzles of varying degrees of difficulty. Students will sharpen their skills in logic, deduction, reading and other styles of learning and problem-solving.  However, the real magic of the day isn’t uncovering the location of treasure, it’s the fact that the students don’t even feel they’re stuck in a classroom.  They’re having fun! 

Senora Chimenti organizes these types of exercises a lot.  Often, she comes up with her own ideas for games and exercises, challenging her students to not only complete the work, but to reframe their understanding of school and education. Her exercises are challenging, and she often finds the students are up for the challenge.

By the close of school, the students have worked together to crack the case.  For a few hours at least, the kids were able to escape from everything outside of the school walls and enjoy learning.  This was, of course, Senora Chimenti’s plan all along.  
“I love creating this type of games, like escape rooms and solving mysteries,” Maria explains.

Yet the day is not over.  There’s one last twist. “At the end of the day, we gave the golden owl to a girl who was new as a welcome gift and all the students signed it. They are very nice kids.” recalls Maria.

For me, there are times we wonder if our games make a difference or are worth the trouble.  When we hear stories like Maria’s, it makes it all worth it.  We’re so honored “Mystery at the Lux Museum” could be used to create such a positive experience.  “The students loved it! We had a blast solving the Lux family mystery,” concludes Maria.

Thank you to Miss Chimenti and to all of the educators going the extra mile in their classrooms and serving the leaders of the future.  You are admired and will always be remembered!

Interested in developing your own mystery setting for your classroom?  I’d absolutely love to work with you!  Email me at john@cleverkidsmysteries.com and let’s talk!

Have a cool classroom idea you’d like to share?  Please leave a comment! 

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