It’s a Breakout! Having fun with Consolidation.


At the end of last term I wanted to do something fun with my year 9 math class that allowed them to consolidate the work that they had done throughout the term and also develop their ability to problem solve and work in teams.

I did not just want to do a worksheet or like so many of my students ask watch a video.

A few months ago I was researching through my professional learning network (PLN) ideas for games that other teachers do to help their students revise. Mainly I was looking for online platforms that were suitable for this purpose however during these conversations it was suggested to me by Kelly Hollis (@Hobson_k) that breakouts were a great way to do this. My response was “what’s a breakout?”


What is a Breakout activity?

A breakout activity is essentially an activity where students need to solve problems or puzzles to unlock a series of locks to open a box.

If you have ever completed an escape room the idea is quiet similar except that students are trying to break into a box rather than escape a room.

There is a video of some students attempting a breakout activity here.

Benefits of a Breakout?

  1. problem solving
  2. creativity
  3. team work
  4. logic
  5. persistence
  6. engagement
  7. ….. and many more

Setting up for a breakout

There are companies that sell breakout kits if you want to purchase one straight out. Personally I found them a little expensive you can buy one here.

My Classroom Breakout

The Box:

For my breakout I put together my own kit. Each one included the following items:

  • Tool box (Bunnings: $4): This is where the prize goes.
  • Hasp (ebay: $4): this is to attach all the locks to.
  • 2 x 3 digit padlocks (Reject Shop: 2 pack $4)
  • key padlock: (Kmart: $2)
  • Key ring tags: (Reject Shop: 6 pack $2) To attach coded keys to.
  • Prizes: from my prize box. 🙂

Total cost $16. I put together 3 boxes for my end of term activity but am hoping to add two more kits to my collection


I am also hoping to add a black light, an alphabet padlock and a 4 digit padlock for future activities.

The Activities:

For this particular breakout I wanted my students to consolidate their learning on pythagoras and trigonometry.

For the activities I selected 3 to go with my locks.

  1. Pythagorean stack from Equation Freak
  2. Trigonometry pile up from Great Maths Teaching Ideas
  3. Logic Problems (bamboozables) you can find these in many search engines. The one I used was movie themed.

Students were in groups of 6 and each pair took a problem to work through. For activities 1 and 2 students answer matched the combination on the lock. This did cause some issues depending on the rounding that students used. I did help students by checking if it was simply a rounding error or they had made an error elsewhere, mostly it was the later.

Students were engaged and persisted to complete the task. It took the groups nearly an hour to unlock their box and get to the goodies inside.

I can’t wait to try again this term and after doing an escape room this last holiday I have some new ideas too.

Have you tried a breakout? Share below in the comments or on our facebook page. 



About cmcaton

I am a Secondary Teacher and Head of Department Mathematics in Education Queensland. I am passionate about the development of pedagogy that engages the 21st century student and love to explore their implementation in the classroom. Disclaimer: The thoughts on this page are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.
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