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Escape Room by a 5th grader

My 5th grader loves escape room adventures. Ever since she developed an interest, we have regularly visited escape rooms in the US and India. We have cracked some. Most others, we were locked out. But the fun, curiosity, frantic searching for clues and leads keep us going back to different rooms again and again.

After a couple of visits in early 2020, the Covid situation locked us all down. Not only venturing out was an issue, locked in closed spaces for hours without knowing who has been there or handled the items landed us in a tough spot. We decided to put a hold on 2020 or until the situation is more manageable.

But we didn't have to wait. Last week, while I was in a meeting, my daughter sneaked in and wrote a quick note for me. The note asked if I wanted to visit her escape room. She had thought about our problem of not having an escape room experience since the lockdown; she decided to put one for us.

I agreed. Later that day, when my wife and I visited, we were stunned by the clues' quality. The experience she had built for us was amazing.


We got an introduction. The goal was to find the dolphin pen drive. We should not use shortcuts or brute force trying to open random boxes, and we must solve them through the course of clues. She just handed us a welcome note.

First Clue - There is no clue.

We read and thanked her for the note. And we asked for the first clue or where to start.

My daughter smiled and said, "You already have it. Go back to the note".

We had to scramble and assemble the bolded letters. It read, "flip sequin." We found a sequin bag and flipped it to find another note. It said, "sunset chalk." We had no idea what it meant except that there was a box full of chalks. We picked the one that matched sunset colors and emptied it, but there was nothing there.

Time to change the strategy. There was also a wall painting with a sunset in it. There was also a chalkboard canvas on top of it. Ah! There it was. We flipped both the canvases, and there was a blurry picture in one of them. And there were three sticky notes in the other. And there were numbers on them 2, 4, 6. Must be key to a number lock.

But. we had no idea what the blurry picture was, and we failed to get it right. Dead End!

We gave up and asked my daughter for a lifeline. She mentioned that the picture was a real closeup shot of something in the room. We checked again, and it was the carpet! We found another note beneath the carpet. There were three words - blue, pink, and yellow.

We noticed that the sticky note she gave before were those corresponding colors. Now what? My wife realized that there was a box with a number lock on it. It had three numbers. Bingo! May be the order of the words was the combination. We used it and opened the box.

There was another note inside the box! Arghh! It had a snowflake and a recycling sign on it? The note made absolutely no sense, so we used another lifeline - this time, we asked the coordinator for another clue.

We were told that the symbols were the title of a book. Snowflake and recycle? There was no book like that .:-) She had her own bookshelf, and we raided them. On careful study, we found there was a book titled Winter Turning. On the whiteboard, there was an alpha-numerical code.

This must be the toughest escape room ever! The clues were set in the maze of a small 12'x12' room. We decrypted, and it had a number 144. This is easy. It must be a page in the book. On page 144, guess what? There was another note! It said the owl. There were two owly things: a box and a key chain. We went to the box and opened it, and the box said, "It is the wrong owl, try again!". And the keychain's back was cut open, and there was a key.

The key unlocks a diary. We opened it. The diary had a jumbled note of letters. We scrabbled and came up with a word - pillowcase.

Finally, we opened the pillowcase expecting another note, and there it was. It said - this was your last clue and a note that said:

Don't go any farther, think inside the box

We looked for boxes in the room and there were several. We opened one after the other and finally, there was a dolphin pen drive.

Mission accomplished!


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