Update and Solar Eclipse BreakoutEDU!

If you haven’t realized it by now, I am writing about the highlights happening in my school library, as opposed to weekly updates. There just isn’t much happening this year that is different than anything I’ve done in previous years (and that I’ve already written about). HOWEVER, there has been a LOT happening. Believe me! April went by in a flash with an author visit (JJK – kids are still asking for his books, so I say that day was a success); Meet @ Main at the public library (we had the largest turnout ever); Spring Break; Poem in Your Pocket Day; and other special events and programs. May has been just as busy with testing, Star Wars READS Day, Book Fair, and more.

One new thing that I did last week with students was a BreakoutEDU lesson. I think I started hearing about BreakoutEDU last summer? I couldn’t wrap my head around it…kind of like Escape Room, but with boxes instead of rooms? I went to a couple of PD sessions on it and felt like it was something cool for middle and high school students but that my kids just wouldn’t get it (in reality, it was ME who wasn’t getting it).  It wasn’t until talking to one of the fantastic librarians in my school district who does Breakouts with K – 2nd grade students did I realize or feel like I could actually do this with my students. After speaking to her and others, I decided that I was going to try it before the end of the school year. Around the same time, my STEM Lab (Science Lab) teacher emailed me to say that she wanted to do a BreakoutEDU lesson before the end of the school year too, so we went to work planning something together! At first, we started brainstorming different topics per grade level. We looked at their standards and tried to figure out something for each grade. THEN, we had a GREAT idea…we live in Lexington, South Carolina. The Total Solar Eclipse will be coming through our area in August…in fact, we are THE BEST PLACE to view it! We decided to focus on the solar eclipse with all classes. Another super librarian in my district had done some Solar Eclipse Breakouts with her staff, so she gave us some tips and got us started on clues. We had SO MUCH FUN. Here’s how we did it:

  • We borrowed 3 BreakoutEDU kits from another school in my district and 1 “homemade” kit (toolbox) from a different school, so we had a total of 4 kits.
  • Each box contained Starburst candy (we wanted something space themed) and bookmarks I made about the eclipse.
  • The story we told students was that we got a weird email and we needed their help figuring out what the email was about. The email said something about posting pictures and included a list of cities in South Carolina.
  • Each group had a magazine article about the eclipse, a map, and an encyclopedia article about the eclipse. There was also a key hidden in some books about the sun, the moon, etc.
  • Students had 4 locks to figure out – a number lock (date of the eclipse); a directional lock (had to use the map and the list of cities in the email to figure out); a key lock; and a word lock (the word was solar).

It was awesome to see them work in groups to figure out the answers. With Kindergarten and 1st grade, we each took a group and did it that way. We had to walk them through it, but they were really good at figuring out the clues once we gave them some hints. The 2nd – 5th graders really just kind of figured it out on their own.

After they opened the box, they ate candy, colored the bookmarks, and watched a great video about the solar eclipse along with a quick mini-lesson with our STEM Lab teacher. Loved this lesson and would totally “breakout” again! Students clearly loved it, we used collaboration to set it all up, students had to use collaboration and teamwork to figure everything out. It was wonderful – have you ever done a BreakoutEDU lesson?



About Valerie Byrd Fort

I live in South Carolina. I am passionate about libraries, books, and reading. I am also a mom. This is my blog about those things.
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