Friday, March 11, 2016

DIY #BreakoutEDU Box

For the past two weeks, I've been slightly obsessed with reading about BreakoutEDU and all the games involved. My curiosity began last November during EdCampKC when I saw sessions called "BreakoutEDU" on the board. I had no idea what they were but I figured they had something to do with breakout rooms that I had also heard of. Since EdCampKC, I never went a day or two without hearing about BreakoutEDU in my Twitter stream. Needless to say, I finally got around to reading about it and now I regret not signing up for a BreakoutEDU session at EdCamp.

DIY-ing the Breakout box

The main BreakoutEDU site has a list of everything you need to build a breakout box. If you add everything up on Amazon, you get a total price of about $110. However, I realized I didn't need everything they suggested. For example, many of the breakout games utilize documents stored on a USB flash drive. Who doesn't have one or two (or 6, really) lying around gathering dust? Then, during a #moedchat about BreakoutEDU, Melanie Thompson said, 

This tweet inspired me to head out today to my local Wal-Mart and start shopping for breakout box supplies. Although I was not able to find everything I needed at Wal-Mart and had to go to two more stores, I still saved a ton of money. Here's what I ended up with for my breakout box after shopping at 3 stores in the Kansas City area:
And here's the cost breakdown plus where I bought each item:
Main BreakoutEDU Box: Wal-Mart, $9.84
Secondary Box: Wal-mart, $3.87
Keyed Padlock (I bought two): Wal-Mart, 2 @ $2.77 each ($5.54 total)
4-digit lock: Wal-Mart, $7.96
Hasp: Strasser's True Value (local hardware store), $9.99
5-letter lock: Strasser's True Value, $9.99
Directional Lock: Lowe's, $7.98
(not pictured) MasterLock 5-letter/number lock: Lowe's, $7.98 (needed for "Fortune's Fool" game)
Total Cost: $63.15
The only thing I could not find was an invisible ink pen, which I ended up buying on Amazon for $3.63. Two other items on the list to buy are a USB flash drive and a UV flashlight, both of which I already own.

I'm very happy with how much money I saved, considering my initial shopping on Amazon totaled over $100! Now I'm really looking forward facilitating a breakout experience with my students after spring break. We're going to dive into reading Romeo & Juliet so the first game we're playing is "Fortune's Fool" by @Mr_JSpike. I can't wait for my students to experience this game. I want it to get them excited to read Romeo & Juliet and spark their critical thinking skills.

Hopefully, this post helps you if you've been thinking about doing BreakoutEDU in your own classroom or school. I'll post a follow-up once my students play Fortune's Fool. Maybe I'll even be able to brag about them successfully breaking out! Only time will tell. 


  1. Great work! If you have Amazon Prime, the hasps are less than half the price you paid locally, so that might factor in for future kits. Ammo boxes are Walmart are 4.88 and 6.88 depending on the size, and they are great for secondary containers too. Other cheap, easy to get lockable containers are small pizza boxes, disposable coffee cups with the sipping hole lid (I asked McDonalds for a couple of empty cups and lids - worked great.) I just reinforce with duct tape. Priority mail cardboard envelopes work well too. Can't wait to hear about your Fortune's Fool experience with your students!

  2. How do you find the games to use? I would love to do this with math in my fourth grade classroom!

    1. Sorry for the delayed response. The best place to find games is on the BreakoutEDU website ( or to join one of the Facebook groups that are now content-specific. The Facebook group members are very helpful.

  3. Does the smaller box need to fit into the larger one? I am building this kit for my wife (who is the teacher) and I want to keep it a surprise, but I can't seem to find anywhere if the box needs to fit inside, and thus narrow my choices.

  4. I keep having issues with my word lock. I got one off of Amazon called Wordlock (ironic I know). They keep breaking. I have look other places and this is the only brand I can find with five dials. What brand is yours?

    1. I have two different word locks. One is a master brand with dials that are both letters and numbers (which makes for interesting combination possibilities when you can substitute letters for numbers). The other is the WordLock brand. I have 3 of them now and haven't had an issue with either one. I know it helps me if I'm really careful when setting the combination to make sure the letters are exactly aligned.