Gettin’ Groovy With 1960s Escape Room

Discover history with Mrs. Wilt’s escape room


Audrey White, Opinions Section Editor

With the 2022-2023 school year coming to a close, classwork is starting to wind down, allowing students a little more flexibility during class periods. With this newfound flexibility, CHS’s U.S. history classes have had the opportunity to each visit the media center during their respective blocks to get groovy with a 1960s escape room put together by the media specialist, Mrs. Wilt.


“There are so many important things that happened during this decade and it’s really crazy. Even I didn’t realize until I started putting the timeline together exactly how much happened and how much overlapped and intersected. It was a really fun decade. I grew up hearing stories about the 60s, which was extra motivation for me,” Mrs. Wilt said.


In a smaller section of the media center, Mrs. Wilt crafted an impressive timeline showcasing the progression of the 1960s. On the left side of the room starts 1960, stretching across each wall until the decade ends on the right side of the room in 1969. Each year within the timeline displayed a series of newspaper clippings, as well as various pop culture titles that were published or aired during that year, such as the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962) and the tv series Doctor Who (1963).


Around the room sat a few computers that were covered in cardboard to create the appearance that the computers were retro televisions, as they played black-and-white videos. And to really top off the 1960s vibe, Mrs. Wilt also situated different magazine photos that show what life was like during this impactful decade. One particular aspect that stuck out to me in the timeline was that, in earlier years, the collages would feature boxy shapes, but as the decade progressed, the shapes would become more squiggly and triangular. Each year contributed its own sort of tone to the room, giving tribute to its given decade.


“I really wanted to use a lot of primary sources for this escape room. When it comes to history, I’ve always been fascinated by primary sources. I love to try and imagine what it was like to be there reading that newspaper at that time. As I was looking things up, I would pull a newspaper page because I needed something that had information and then I would start reading the side articles or start looking at the advertisements and I would keep going in the newspaper. It took me about two weeks to put this all together because I kept getting sidetracked looking at all the information,” Mrs. Wilt said.


To see history laid out in an interactive way has been a special experience for students. Juniors enrolled in U.S. history classes were put into groups and given a box different from other groups. The groups had to rely on each other, making this activity one to bond over. Students had to wander about the room, searching for which piece of the timeline was relevant to the given clues unique to their box. Once the locks were solved students found a paper inside with questions relating to the escape room, inquiring about the group’s thoughts, as well as a few remaining questions about pieces of history to be discovered in the timeline. 


To make the activity all the more fun, students competed against each other across all U.S. history classes– the group who finished the quickest out of all the classes would earn a prize. As students raced to be the winning group, a collection of time-period-specific music played with such songs as  “Downtown” by Petula Clark, and “California Dreamin’” by The Mamas & the Papas. 


“I’ve been really excited about students’ responses to this too. I feel I’ve done cool worldbuilding with other escape rooms, but this is the first one that I can see learning happening on students’ faces as they are working on it. I love making learning fun,” Mrs. Wilt said.