Our family has been homeschooling for about two years now, and during that time my goals for my kids’ education has changed. Instead of focusing on grades, I want them to learn how to teach themselves. I’ve realized in order for them to be able to teach themselves, they need to develop two skills: reading comprehension and critical thinking. Reading is how we access new information. Critical thinking is how we understand the information. A great way to develop critical thinking is through puzzles. However, I’ve struggled to find puzzles that interest my oldest. Being gifted, he learns quickly and is easily bored by repetitive activities, but he loves challenges that make him think deeply, like chess. Recently, Silverquicken Education reached out to me about an escape room type puzzle subscription they provide. After a quick look of their website, I thought we would give this box a try!
*I was compensated for this post, but the opinions in the post are wholly my own.
When our welcome box arrived in the mail, my kids and I were so excited to see what was inside! When we opened the box, I was very impressed by the beauty and care taken into the packing the box.
My oldest had learned to make sure we have all our supplies before starting, so he laid everything out. The first item we found was a map of all the items included in the box. I loved the way they made the supply list into a map! The map walked us through each item in the box and gave a brief description of the purpose of each item.
Next, we opened the welcome box. In the small box we found a membership card, our first puzzle, along with a hint card. As I read the hint card, I realized the questions the hint card was guiding my son through was using the Socratic method of learning. The questions started with “What do you see?”, then continued down a line of questioning that led my son to discovering the key to solving the puzzle. The Socratic method is the same method of questioning we use in our homeschooling and is instrumental in developing critical thinking.
While I marveled at the hint card, my son immediately got to work to decode the welcome message. With the help of the hint questions, he figured out how to decode the message. Using the provided notepad and pencils, he worked diligently to decode the message. After decoding his welcome message, he was ready to start the adventure!
Adventures in Problem Solving!
The adventure began with an introduction letter that welcomed my son to the Silverquicken School, a school where there are no tests, no quizzes, and no essays. Silverquicken School is a place where deeper learning happens! The letter goes on to tell my son his role at the school is to solve mysteries, using his intelligence as his superpower!
Next, he opened this month’s quest packet and found the Quest introduction. The introduction begins the story that runs throughout the quest. This month’s mystery was called “The Bunker”. The quest packet included four puzzle packets, each with a part of the story started by the introduction letter. Each puzzle packet included a puzzle that must be solved before moving on to the next puzzle packet.
Puzzle Packet 1:
The first puzzle packet continued the storyline from the introduction. At the end of this part of the story, my son had to solve the combination to a lock. The lock was on a door he needed to open in order to find the source of a leak that was flooding the room. If he did not solve the combination lock, he would surely drown! He quickly started working on the puzzle, trying different number combinations. He loved the challenge of this puzzle. It was unlike any problem he had solved before. I asked if he wanted me to help him solve the puzzle, but he responded “No thanks. This is really fun!” I left him alone to work out the puzzle, and he eventually solved the combination!
Puzzle Packet 2:
In the second puzzle packet, my son had to decode a message. The story line continued from the previous puzzle packet, and in this part of the story, he needed to open a hatch right underneath him. Unfortunately, the hatch had a message on it that needed to be decoded before it would open. He worked diligently to figure out what the message was, and once he did, the hatch opened! My son could move onto the next puzzle packet.
Puzzle Packet 3:
In the third puzzle packet, my son had to follow two groundhogs down the holes they had run down. Using clues and process of elimination, he worked diligently to find the combination of two holes. While this may seem simple enough, there were a possibility of 36 combinations! He had to read each clue carefully to eliminate which hole combinations made sense. Scenario by scenario, he eliminated certain possibilities, and eventually figured out which two holes the grounds hogs escaped through. He verified his answer with the solution and moved on to the final puzzle packet.
Puzzle Packet 4:
In the last puzzle packet, my son had to solve a math riddle to gain access to a control panel. The control panel was guarded by an overgrown groundhog, and he would only let you pass after solving a math riddle. My son is a HUGE math fan, so he was excited to solve this math puzzle. He immediately put pen to paper and worked hard to find the solution. Once he found the answer, he confirmed it with the solution, and he had finished his quest!
My son loved the fun, logical, outside the box puzzles and problems he solved during this month’s Silverquicken quest. I loved the quality of the box, and all the little details in the box that added to the adventure. After the excitement from his last puzzle was over, he immediately turned to me and asked, “When do I get the next one?!?”. I laughed and told him next month!
For other ideas to develop kids’ critical thinking, try some of my other posts:
Crystal Science Experiment at Home
Sprinkler Engineering Design Process for kids
Beyblade Experiment: What affects Momentum?
Paintball Forces Science Experiment
Simple Machine Bird: Levers, Gears, and Birds! Oh My!