teaching resource

The Elf Investigation – Whole Class Escape Game

Teach Starter Publishing
PowerPoint, PDF | 23 pages | Years: 3 - 6

Help the Mayor of Elfton catch the person responsible for some mischievous events in his town.

The Elf Investigation! Digital Escape Room Activity

This Christmas-themed escape room is the perfect end-of-year adventure for your class to demonstrate their teamwork and communication skills.

Nutmeg McGumdrop is the Mayor of the town called Elfton. It seems that a troublesome elf has begun to play tricks on unsuspecting townsfolk in the lead-up to Christmas, and he needs your class to help catch the culprit responsible.

This super entertaining Christmas escape room resource is exactly what you’ve been looking for to keep those minds ticking and busy as the excitement around Christmas starts to draw closer and closer.

The clues that your student’s will need to crack the code are all available in this day/night map of Elfton! You may like to save this page and utilise this version of the video when your class are completing this escape room. Simply click on the little ‘Fullscreen’ button in the corner of the video.


Crack the Codes and Catch the Culprit with Levelled Activities

To cater for differentiation, this resource includes three different case files including:

  • The circle version includes counting collections up to 20, following straightforward directions, and multiplying lots of ten by a single-digit number.
  • The triangle version includes multiplying single-digit numbers, multi-step directions, and adding numbers to a four-digit number.
  • The square version includes multiplying a three-digit number by a single-digit number, order of operations, dividing a four-digit number by a single-digit number (using short division without a remainder), and counting collections up to 50.

Easy to Implement Christmas Escape Room Fun

This resource has been thoughtfully designed and created by an experienced teacher who gets it – you don’t want to have to spend time sorting out stations and areas for an epic escape room activity – and you don’t have to. This downloadable Christmas escape room has everything you need.

Here’s a simple guide for how to implement this escape room in your classroom:

  1. Print copies of the PDF (case files) for each student, or group of students.
  2. On the PowerPoint (in Slide Show mode), display the first slide for the students to see.
  3. Click the begin button to display the introduction letter and read together as a class.
  4. Once you have read this, click Begin again and music will start and the map will animate through day and night. The map is the main source of information for your students.
  5. Let your little investigators begin!

Hot tips

  • A second device is super handy. This will allow your students to attempt to solve the investigation without interrupting those on the map.
  • The train and time of day come into play for the Commute Chaos puzzle – the answer sheet will provide you with more information.
  • The Christmas tree is not a regular pine tree!
  • Have some scrap paper handy for students to draw the routes taken in The Pom Pom Parade and Commute Chaos puzzles.

Easily Prepare This Resource for Your Students

Use the dropdown icon on the Download button to download both the PowerPoint and the PDF. Both of these resources are needed for this activity to work.

Looking for something a little easier? Check out our Elf Escape Room.


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  • Melissa Martin

    Further clues for the square clue booklet question - Not Quite Northern Lights. The symbols aren't quite enough information to solve the problem. Even I struggled :) An explanation in the teacher notes would be great!

    • Tom (Teach Starter)

      Hi Melissa, Thank you for getting in touch. The Square version of the Not Quite Northern Lights puzzle builds from previous versions. The symbols are an on/off switch, a window and a train line. Their orientation gives you the info to work out which windows to count. The first one has an 'on' switch, and the window is above the train line. So the students will need to count all the windows with a light on, north of the train line. I hope that helps clarify the puzzle!

  • Daniella O'Brien

    Will this work on Google Slides? I don't think the music plays when opened in slides. We don't have access to PowerPoint...

    • Tom (Teach Starter)

      Hi Daniella, Unfortunately, Google Slides does not support the animations and functionality that have been used to create the slides in the PowerPoint. You can still run the activity using the video embedded on this resource page. When it comes to entering the final code, you could substitute the PowerPoint for a physical numbered lock? I hope that helps clarify!

  • Tom (Teach Starter)

    Hi Wayowa, From our tests of the activity, I would suggest an hour or more for this activity. Depending on which booklet you give your students, more advanced booklets will most likely take more time to complete. You could span the activity over multiple lessons, putting a timer on for 30 minutes or so to see how much the students can solve in that period. It is really up to you!

  • Tom (Teach Starter)

    Yes, that is correct Jeremy, thanks for jumping in! Looks like the mischievous elf has hidden my response to Ngaire! PowerPoint will only play the animation if you have clicked on the screen with the Slide Show playing. A possible workaround for this would be to display the video above on your main screen (interactive whiteboard) for the whole class to see and then display the PowerPoint on your computer/laptop's screen for students to check the code they have come up with. I hope that helps!

  • Wayowa Telfer

    Has anyone tried this? Just planing how many lessons I should I allocate to this.

    • Randi Smith

      Hi Wayowa! Thank you for your question. One of our resource producers took this one into the classroom to try it out, and it took just over an hour to complete.

  • Jeremy Kane

    If you have two screens connected to your computer the animation will pause play while the other screen is active. If this is the cause of your issue, you might want to setup a stand-alone device to play the animation.

  • Ngaire Miller

    Any trick to get the animation started? I have put it in slideshow mode and no music!!!

    • Tom (Teach Starter)

      Hi Ngaire, The animations and music should begin when on the map screen of the PowerPoint. If they are not working, I would suggest closing some other applications you have running on your computer. This PowerPoint is packed full of fun stuff and might need a little more computer power than the average presentation. Failing that, you can simply display the video in the description on this page. It is a duplicate of what happens in the PowerPoint. Set it to full screen and HD. It will loop automatically. I hope that helps!