Grab a Free Growth Mindset Escape Room for grades 4-8.


The start of the school year can be tough for some students. Not only is there a transition into routines and structure, but it’s also challenging to learn new things and often have day-to-day struggles with academics. Of course, welcoming students from day one helps instill a growth mindset from the beginning. Here are some ways to head back to school with a growth mindset. . .from day one!

1. What is a Growth Mindset?

First, a growth mindset is like thinking of your brain as a muscle that gets stronger every time you use it. It’s the awesome idea that you can get better at anything if you put in the effort and don’t give up, even when things get tough. When kids say, “I can’t do this,” with a growth mindset, tell them to say instead, “I can’t do this yet, but I’ll learn how if I keep trying.”

2. What is a Fixed Mindset?

On the other hand, a fixed mindset is like thinking your brain is set in stone. If you’re not good at something right now, you believe you’ll never be good at it. Imagine if you tried riding a bike once, fell off, and then decided, “Welp, I’m just not meant to learn how to ride a bike,” and never tried again. That’s a fixed mindset in action. Overall, this is a good example to use with kids because it shows that a growth mindset can also overcome challenges outside of school.

3. How Do You Start the School Year with a Growth Mindset Classroom?

First impressions matter. Setting up your classroom and choosing back-to-school growth mindset activities is key in making sure students turn those fixed mindsets into growth mindsets.

Here are some ways to get your students thinking with a growth mindset.

1. Start with a TEDTalk

I am a big fan of using video in the classroom, and TEDTalks are my go-to for growth mindset videos.

In this TEDTalk, nine-year-old Rebecca Chang talks about a challenge she faced, running for student council, and how it helped her grow her mindset. She gives tips for other kids to have a growth mindset even when they are upset and frustrated. 

2. Go On a Growth Mindset Scavenger Hunt

Competition + Puzzles = Win for your students! One way I recommend instilling a growth mindset during the first days of school is with a growth mindset scavenger hunt .

This growth mindset scavenger hunt challenge allows students to move around the classroom while reading passages and answering questions. I love this activity because it features something a lot of kids enjoy – cake. Your students participate in a “cake bake-off” where they are searching for the missing ingredients of a recipe. Students visit each of the 14 ingredient cards and piece together the recipe to win the great cake bake-off. Each Ingredient Card contains a short reading passage about the topic, a multiple-choice question, and a clue. Students will get “clues” for which Ingredient Card they should visit next.

What makes this a growth mindset activity? The activity contains success stories from Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Martin Luther King Jr., and Walt Disney. These are all famous people who had to have a growth mindset to overcome adversity in their own lives.

3. Study Famous Failures

Another way to foster a growth mindset early in the school year is to study “famous failures”. Have you heard the expression that you have to FAIL before you SAIL? This is the case with the famous people in this presentation like Katy Perry, George Lucas, Mark Cuban, and Bill Gates who had to fail before they found success.

The digital presentation slides include growth mindset reading passages and questions to help your students make connections with famous failures.

4. Make it Visual

In addition, having growth mindset posters on your wall gives your students visual clues on how to change their mindset from a fixed to a growth mindset. For example, hang posters that tell students what to say when they are frustrated. For example, instead of saying, “I give up”, say “I will try a different way.”

Students can also make their own growth mindset posters. Plus, making a collaborative poster with their classmates with a positive growth mindset message is a perfect way to start the year on the right foot!

5. Build Community

Next, making your classroom a welcome, safe place from the first day helps students have a growth mindset. Of course, you can do this by building a community of learning. One way to do this is with get-to-know-you cards.

I love Chat Chains, simple cards with questions to ask your students like “What do you struggle with?” or “What would you do if you won the lottery?” Pick a card then add to the chat chain with “detailed comments”, “questions”, and more. Finally, there are also activity cards to build even more engagement.

This also encourages students to ask questions and explore answers in a supportive environment.

6. Play a Growth Mindset Escape Room

Next, escape rooms are a perfect way to instill a growth mindset. Try a growth mindset-themed escape room to try out with your students early in the year.

One escape room I love focuses on test-taking strategies. This escape room focuses on growth mindset and helps your students be prepared for state, district, and classroom tests with strategies to help them feel confident. Of course, the reading passages have them ready to succeed on their tests and calm test anxiety. Think of your students saying, “I CAN do this!”

Other growth mindset escape rooms focus on famous failures or back to school.

Each escape room includes the following:

  • Four half-page reading passages
  • Questions for each passage (multiple choice, fill in the blank and true/false)
  • Four decoders
  • Teacher directions
  • Answer key
  • Student directions
  • Hint cards
  • How to save time if the activity is taking too long
  • Words to know: A glossary of terms
  • How to decode puzzles
  • Early Finisher Activity: Text marking

Each escape room has four unique puzzle types: cryptogram, morse code, pigpen cyphers, and Polybius squares.

7. Recognize and Combat Negative Self-Talk

Some of my favorite ways to combat negative self-talk are positive affirmation statements.

First, mindful talk cards are question cards that reinforce mindfulness, emotion, inquiry, and expression to help students focus on positive affirmations and build self-esteem.

In addition, note cards with positive messages like, “You are Awesome” help students know that you care.

When you hear negative self-talk, encourage students to foster a growth mindset by changing their statement to a positive, “I can” statement.

When it comes to back-to-school and growth mindset, there is no better way to help your students stay positive than teaching them to learn from their failures and practice positive self-talk. Engaging activities and classroom community are the first steps to fostering a growth mindset during back to school and all year long! Turn that fixed mindset into a growth mindset with these tools and tips this school year. 


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Grab a Free Growth Mindset Escape Room for grades 4-8.

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