Breakout box fun in hinsdale
Welcome to 2023, a brand-new year that grants us the opportunity to prioritize student engagement, learning, collaborating and exploration through technology. In this era, our students are practically being born with tablets, iPads, videos, games, and apps at their fingertips. Teaching students how to properly utilize technology can enhance learning and strengthen core skills like reading, writing, math, science, and more.
Before the winter break, I was able to work with students at Hinsdale Central School to strengthen these skills using technology. The first graders had been learning all about the “Gingerbread Man”, an elusive sugar creation that runs away to protect himself from being eaten. I utilized Breakoutedu.com, an awesome resource that is offered through CABOCES, to adapt a physical breakout box activity to help the first graders to “catch the Gingerbread Man”.
What is a breakout box? It is literally a metal box with a variety of different locks that need to be solved to be opened; there is a lock with a three-digit code, one with a four-digit code, one with letters to spell a word or phrase, a directional lock, and the final lock- a key. Students receive different “clues” of varying levels (you can choose how difficult you want it to be), and they solve the clues to find the correct code to open the lock. The students usually have a certain amount of time, and a limited number of hints, to solve all the clues and “breakout”, meaning that they have successfully completed the activity.
The Breakout EDU website offers a variety of different breakout style lessons for all age ranges. There are some that require a physical breakout box, which can be borrowed from the CABOCES Learning Resources Center. There are others that are completely digital, so you do not need to have the physical box and locks. Either way, this resource supplies you with a list of exactly what you will need to do to set up the lesson, and it will provide any materials that you may need to print out or organize.
The “Gingerbread Man” breakout activity required a physical box. We used four different locks and the students had to complete a series of activities to find the “codes” or the keys to the locks, so they could help to find the gingerbread man. Some of the activities required math skills (reading a graph), and others required reading skills (coloring the words that included long vowel sounds, short vowel sounds, etc.). To do the activity as a full class, I adapted the PowerPoint that Breakout EDU provides, and the students were able to follow along on the classroom Promethean board as we completed the “clues” to find the Gingerbread man.
The students were so thrilled to have received these “messages” from the Gingerbread man, and they were so proud of themselves every time they figured out a clue, shouting, “We did it!” When being asked if they thought we could figure out the next clue, a choral, “Yeah!” rang throughout the room.
When we finally figured out the last clue and found the remaining key to open the box, you could feel the suspense in the air. In both first-grade classrooms, we were successfully able to open the box to discover where the gingerbread man had been hiding! He was sneaky enough to get himself out, but he left a note and a candy cane treat for each student, telling them that they had done a great job following his clues. The students’ excited exclamations, with a few hugs peppered in, demonstrated just how proud of themselves they were to solve the clues and find the “Gingerbread Man”.
Is this something that could be achieved without the use of technology? I am sure there are ways, but I am grateful for the Breakout EDU resource because it made the planning and executing of this lesson so much easier.
If you are interested in learning more about Breakout EDU, or if you are interested in bringing in other types of technology into your classroom, including fun review games like Gimkit, interactive presentations like Nearpod, or coding technology like Puzzlets or Pyonkee, please contact me at email@example.com so we can make an appointment. I would love to help!
By: Brooke Neamon, CA BOCES Model Schools
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