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Self-Checking Algebra Escape Room Activities

Algebra is so fun to teach, and learning algebra helps students build their problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Witnessing students' "aha" moments and their new understanding of abstract concepts throughout the school year is incredibly rewarding as an algebra teacher.

With all this being said, learning algebra can be hard for some kids. One of the big hurdles I saw students face in algebra was the transition from being able to solve math problems in their heads to needing to write everything down because of the multiple steps in algebra. Students who equated being “smart in math” with being able to solve problems mentally can struggle with feelings of inadequacy. Part of my job as an algebra teacher was to break this connection between mental math and being a math person. After all, we wouldn’t know about Albert Einstein’s work if he never wrote anything down.

Ninth graders have a lot of energy, and seem to enjoy out-of-their-seats algebra activities. Station activities and scavenger hunts are great for this. Students are up out of their seats, walking the room with their clipboards, pencils and calculators solving problems with their friends. What’s not to love? By 11th grade this all changes and students would rather do desk work. “Miss, can you bring that paper to our table?” Hmm, but just two years ago you were itching to walk around! Teenagers are funny.

 Quadratic word problems digital math escape room

In this post, I want to show you one of the interactive algebra activities I’ve been working on—algebra escape rooms. Each now comes in both printable PDF and digital form in the same file. The digital versions are the original versions and are self-checking in Google Forms. The new printable versions work great as group activities and when students just need to walk around.

Printable algebra escape rooms

The printable algebra escape rooms work a lot like scavenger hunts. Students solve the 4 problems in a puzzle, write down their 4-letter code, then check the NEXT STEP box to see which puzzle to visit next. There are 5 puzzles to visit in each algebra escape room activity.

 composing functions escape room

Over the years, I have heard from teachers who didn’t have access to computers, wanted days without computers (love that idea) and had students with print-only accommodations who wanted printable versions of the escape rooms. So I added the printable PDF versions to meet these needs.

How to use the printable algebra escape rooms

1: I'd recommend printing a few copies of the escape room. If a student group has completed one puzzle, then they don’t have to go idle waiting for their next puzzle to open up.

2: Each student gets their own answer sheet. Student directions are printed on their answer sheet, though they may need a nudge to read the directions.

3: Scatter the puzzles around your classroom. You can put them on tables or tape them to the walls, whichever you prefer.

4: Break students into pairs or small groups, depending on which you prefer and which works best for your class.

5: Start each group at a different puzzle. There are 5 puzzles in each escape room. When a group finishes one puzzle, they go on to their next.

6: Students get solving!

Benefits of the printable algebra escape rooms

By working together, students are building their collaboration skills. This collaboration builds teamwork and allows students to learn from one another. Walking around the room visiting each new puzzle also builds in movement that this age group tends to like.

Digital algebra escape rooms

The original versions of the algebra escape rooms are self-checking Google Forms. They are simple to assign and require correct 4-letter code to move on to the next puzzle. There are 3,024 different possible 4-letter codes made from the 9-letter grid, so the chance that a student will guess a code without doing the work is slim.

 Composing functions escape room

Students can work together in pairs or groups, or they can work independently, depending on your preference and what works best for your students.

 Composing functions escape room

Benefits of the digital algebra escape rooms

The self-checking aspect eliminates your need to grade. You can go back into the Responses tab of the Google Form in you Google Drive to see who successfully solved all 5 puzzles.

Incorporating self-checking algebra escape room activities into the routine lets students work together to reach a common goal and gives them that instant feedback they crave. By combining the thrill of an escape room with algebraic problem-solving, you can engage and motivate your students while reinforcing key concepts. These activities foster teamwork, critical thinking, and independence, all of which are vital skills for success in algebra and beyond.

Both the printable and the digital escape rooms are in the same files so that you always have access to both.

 Digital Math Escape Room Bundle for Algebra

(Bundle includes both printable and digital escape rooms)

"I LOVE THESE. They are easy to use for students and teachers. They are great review and / or assessment tool. They're my favorite to use after reviewing for a "homework" grade. I know if they can get to the end of it they understood what we were doing." — Morgan M.

"My students love working through the escape rooms! It is a fun and engaging activity that I like to leave when I have a substitute or if classes are shortened due to weather delays. They become so competitive when working through the puzzles but that allows for great math conversations." — Kelley N.

Browse all digital math escape rooms on TPT