GENEALOGY and ESCAPE ROOMS
ICE CREAM AND COOKIES WITH NANA VERA
Nana really needs your help. She knows she has a lot of information about her ancestors but she has forgotten where she has put it all. She made a lovely family tree with herself and her siblings but she needs you to find the photos of her earlier three generations and place them in their right place on the tree.
You have 30 minutes to look for the clues that will lead to the photos to complete the tree.
Original article and photos by Patty Caputo.
Article first appeared in Wetaskiwin’s Roots & Branches Newsletter, v.18:1 (Jan 2020).
GENEALOGY FOR YOUTH ESCAPE ROOM
by Patty Caputo
This year, for our branch’s Genealogy for Youth program, I wanted to do something a little outside the box. I had recently been to an Escape Room with some of my family members, where we had a great time ―Escaping from a nuclear explosion at a Nuclear Power Station‖. Afterwards, I thought to myself, and then later, aloud to the family, ―Wouldn’t it be fun to build a Family History Escape Room?
They all agreed that it would be fun to PARTICIPATE in one, but only Jason Dick, my grandson, thought it might be fun to BUILD one. With that, we set out researching Escape Rooms on the internet. There are actually a lot of websites dedicated to creating and building your own. Who knew? We spent many hours over the summer researching, and then sharing ideas back and forth. We made a wish list of all the puzzles we wanted in our room, some of them a bit beyond our capabilities and price range, and finally settled on just the right ones.
About this time, as I was looking at some posts on a Family History Facebook group I belong to, I saw a post about a Family History themed Escape Room that was done in New Zealand by a lady named Lyn McOnie. I contacted her for details. She quickly responded by email, with attachments for all of the photos and documents she used to build hers, and permission to use them. I was thrilled! What a time saver to not have to find photos and documents from my own tree to create a room.
I set up a practice run, for my family, using her photos, documents, and the instructions Lyn sent for setting up the room. I’m glad I did! My family had some difficulty solving the room as there were some documents missing. But I made some notes, including how to make it more challenging, more like a professional Escape room, and more Fun!
We worked with the Wetaskiwin Public Library to secure a date on which the activity would be open to the young people in the community.
The next few weeks were spent finding different kinds of locks and locking boxes (or creating them), making puzzles, ordering safes, black light markers and flashlights, etc. and doing practice runs. The day finally arrived (October 12) to take it to the library. We had enough supplies to build two rooms. They were designed to be Nana Vera’s dining room.
The object of the room was to find all of the photos and place them on the family tree 7 before Nana Vera woke up from her nap in 30 minutes.
The photos and supporting documents were hidden around the room, locked in various boxes,
with clues to help find them.
Twelve youth, ages 12-17 attended. There was a girl’s team and a boy’s team. The girls finished their tree with 5 minutes to spare, while the boys got hung up looking for one elusive photo, and didn’t finish before the 30 minute deadline.
Since that Saturday in October, we have shared the Escape Room experience with several others.
At the October meeting of our AGS branch Claudia & Mavis
And again the following week at the 15th anniversary of the Family History Centre, located in Wetaskiwin. We had 32 participants: 11 adults & 21 youth.
All participants were rewarded with cookies and ice cream. Several of the participants shared positive feedback, and said they would be glad to participate in the ―next one!
There was not enough time to accommodate all those who wanted to try the Escape Room, so I will make it available through the Family History Library again!
Overall, I’m very pleased with the activity. I think it would be a great Family Reunion game as well, using our own photos and documents.