Thursday, December 11, 2014

Geocaching and Education, part 14 - Beyond The Basics

This is post #14 in a series of free resources for educators interested in using geocaching in education and other community groups like scouts or camps. The material is pulled directly from Educaching GPS Based Curriculum for Teachers. If interested in more resources, check out

Jason Hubbard, Author

The goal of this section is to take you beyond the Educaching realm and give you other interesting ideas to implement with your students, and maybe even spark some creative ideas of your own. Note: These ideas are not all original! Many have been borrowed from great teachers and others who are already out there “caching” away!

     This acronym stands for “Cache In, Trash Out” and is a healthy way to encourage a little environmental etiquette. The basic idea is that while you are out EducachingTM, you carry a small garbage bag to fill with trash. Place a small plastic grocery store bag or kitchen garbage bag into 35mm film canisters. Pass these out to students before a hunt and instruct them that they need to place any trash they find into the plastic bag and dispose of it properly when back inside the building. Explain to your students that they have a responsibility to their community to keep things cleaned up, and that this is an easy way to practice.

     You can also set up a specific CITO hunt in your schoolyard. Give groups the different waypoints of areas that need to be cleaned up (i.e. playground, north end of building, playing fields, etc.). Set a time limit, then have them meet back at a central location. The central location coordinates could lead them to the school’s dumpster! Then give final coordinates for them to find a cache holding a treat for them as a reward for all their hard work. You could team up with the school’s student council for this activity, or branch out into the community with some help from parents to organize a larger CITO event. See for information about the actual organization.

Out Into The World
Here are a couple ideas to help your students make connections with the communities, and even the world surrounding them:

Travel Bugs – A travel bug is a trackable item that can travel all around the world through “geocaches” that people have hidden. Travel bug dog tags or other trackable signature items can be learned about and purchased online through    A recommendation is that you purchase a few of these and send them off on “missions” throughout your school year. The students can track a travel bug’s progress online and read logs posted by people who pick it up and drop it off in another location. The beautiful thing is that the travel bug can continue to circulate the globe long after it is released by your class. A student will be able to continue to see where it goes and where it has been long after you teach him or her. 
     Try thinking of unique mission for your travel bug. For example, the goal of the travel bug EduBee (go to, click on trackable items, then use tracking number: TB1CF4P), is to travel to educational institutions all over the United States and learn interesting facts from people who find it. The 5th grade class that sent this travel bug can then learn facts from people all over the U.S. and learn the geography about where the bug has been. Here’s another idea: let’s say your class is going to be studying volcanoes. If you can’t take your class to the nearest mountain of magma, send a travel bug with a mission to photograph a particular volcano, then you and your students can research that volcano and its surrounding area! What other travel bug ideas do you have that could allow your students to “travel” the world?

     Hide an Educache container on or near the school grounds or somewhere in your community and log your container at This will allow for anyone in the world to
locate it and log their find online. Make certain you hide this container according to the web site’s requirements. Inside the container, place blank postcards addressed to your school, care of you and your class. When someone finds the container, they will take a postcard, fill it out with information regarding where they’re from, and send it back to your school. 

     Won’t it be fun for your class to receive mail from fellow “cachers”? For more fun keep track on a map of what parts of your county, state, or other country you receive them from. Students can create a US (or world) map on a bulletin board or wall and then attach the postcards on the map.
     Over the course of the school year, the students can keep track of the locations. Postcard senders will tell where they are from and a little about the area in which they live. You could have students calculate distances: furthest traveled, closest in proximity, etc., as an extension.

Well, that's a few for now...more "beyond" ideas to come! Feel free to post your own in the comments section. Until then, keep 'em caching!
-Jason and the Educaching Team

Thursday, September 18, 2014


The Geocaching Blog announced recently that America has hit a million geocaches placed in the United States! So, what are you waiting for? Get out there caching and get better ideas to use with your students!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Back To School with Geocaching in Education

Hey Everyone,
Welcome back to school! If you're anything like me, you are up to your eyeballs in SLOs, TBTs, and every other educational acronym under the sun. A new year is upon us and we have a wonderful new class to enjoy teaching. Getting bogged down by the pressures and stresses of the school year can easily cause us to lose sight of the fun in, why not try taking your students outside this fall and get them searching for caches?!

Here are a few websites/ideas to get your engine jumpstarted...

Geocaching in Education (Groundspeak)

Excerpt from GPS and Geocaching in Education by Burt Lo

GPS & GeoCaching- Authentically Engaging Curriculum

Keep 'em Caching!
-Jason and the Educaching Team

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Geocaching with Kids: Tricks of the Trade

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This post is from the official Geocaching blog and can be found here. Maria McDonald does a nice job here of tips to successful caching with Jr. High students.

Geocaching: Middle Schooler Tested and Approved

By:  Maria McDonald.
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A new generation discovers the GPS device.
As a Geocaching HQ staffer often tethered to the office, I love it when the opportunity to be out in the community presents itself. Such an opportunity presented itself last week when a teacher (Username: Cache-alope) from a local after school science program (Pathways) asked me and Partner Programs Manager Annie Love (Love) to present geocaching to her middle school students. My immediate reaction: Middle schoolers?!? Oh no…anything but the awkward tween years. Luckily, my love of all things geocaching overcame these initial thoughts, and the opportunity to share my passion for geocaching with the next generation removed any lingering doubt.
While preparing our presentation, I got to thinking about children’s involvement with geocaching more generally. While one of the most fascinating elements of geocaching is its ability to be many different things to many types of people, children have a particular place in this game we cherish. First and foremost, kids love toys. If nothing else, geocache SWAG gives youngsters the opportunity to find fun toys. This often keeps them interested in a ‘treasure hunt’ before the more nuanced elements of the game can hold their attention. Another element that particularly appeals to children (or rather to their adults chaperons) is the idea of giving their walk a purpose. Have you ever tried talking a child into going for a walk with you? Nearly impossible! They’re bored and whining before you hit a quarter mile. Tell a child you’re going geocaching and you can get her to cheerfully – and unknowingly – go for a long walk. Lastly, I thought about the importance of finding activities the entire family can enjoy. Geocaching has wide appeal in this aspect as babies in strollers, grandparents in walkers, and every age and stage in between can find something about geocaching they enjoy with geocaches they are able to access. It truly is an adventure for the whole family.
So how do you get your youngsters into geocaching? Here are 5 easy Tricks of the Trade (TOTT…but different this time around).
1. Bring Snacks. Simple but true, you can bribe – I mean convince – a child to do just about anything with the right snack as incentive.
2. Be enthusiastic. Kids know fun when they see it. If you see geocaching as something fun, adventurous, and exciting, that enthusiasm is going to shine out your face like rainbows and they will want to be part of the action.
3. Plan geocaching outings that you know will provide SWAG. This part is easy, as mentioned earlier children love stuff. Geocaches have stuff in them. Plan on searching for geocaches with young ones that you know will provide them with cool stuff. Worried the geocache may not have the goods needed to keep your child’s attention? You’re an adult – use your super sneaky adult powers to have extra SWAG of your own on hand to suddenly make SWAG ‘appear’ as if from the geocache itself. Sort of like planting evidence but much more legal. After the planted SWAG is discovered enthusiastically, mention the next geocache with cool stuff is just around the corner…
4. Find caches that match the child’s skill set and ability. At every age of child development there are markers and goals for what children are capable of learning. Find a way to incorporate the learning goals for their age range into the caching experience. Think broadly about what this could entail, are they working on balance? Climbing? Counting? Over/under/up/down differentiating? Find the skills they seem naturally drawn to learning in their age range and work them into the adventure.
5. Make them part of the team. Children of any age, much like all other ages of humans beings, want to be included. When children are able to participate and contribute to something they see others doing with enthusiasm they will want to play a role themselves.
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Hunting in the rain for the geocache… and SWAG.
So how did the presentation with the dreaded middle schoolers go? Amazing. This was the greatest group of youngsters you could ever hope to geocache with. They were riveted by the geocaching presentation and remained two steps ahead of us with every engaging question. When it came time to leave the classroom and enter into the woods on this particularly rainy day, the kids charged ahead brimming with enthusiasm. The students worked together in pairs, one using a compass and the other piloting a GPS heading towards a staged geocache their teacher had placed specifically for them. They worked their way quickly towards the find and made up usernames on the spot when signing the staged logbook. How “XXthekillertacoXX” came so quickly to one young lady’s mind I’ll never know, but a greater username I challenge you to encounter. The adventure came to a close upon returning to their classroom where the students excitedly talked about how they could share this fun new activity with their families. This afternoon in the woods with youngsters reminded me that Geocaching really can be fun for all ages, even tweens when presented correctly.
Editor’s Note: Maria McDonald wears many hats at Geocaching HQ. She is both our Office Manager and Education Specialist, having worked years in public school systems. 

Geocaching and Education, part 13 - Caching Management

To reinforce again some important information from a previous blog post, I have decided to discuss here management of caches. 

Any Educaching lesson will require preparation, just as any lesson you would teach in your classroom. You will have to prepare educaches, hide them, mark waypoints, keep track of equipment, and so on. Start slowly and work your way up to more difficult types of hunts. Make maps of your schoolyard and where your great hiding spots are, along with their waypoints, and keep them! The more experience you have with your GPS unit and with hiding educaches, the more comfortable you will become and the easier and less time-consuming the preparation process will be. Noted below is a small list of preliminary work you should only need to do one time.

It is necessary to:
1. Discuss caching with your principal and obtain permission. 
2. Take a copy of a map outside with your GPS receiver. For your map, sketch the layout of your school campus, including buildings, fields, playgrounds, trees, shrubs, signs, and other pertinent landmarks. This could  also be a printout of a satellite image overhead of your schoolyard area.
3. Mark or highlight the areas that would make the best hiding spots for items. Pretend you are hosting an Easter Egg hunt. Where would the best spots be for your students? You want the items to be hidden, but you don’t want them impossible to find. Never bury something. Rather, conceal it with mulch, stones, etc. to “camouflage” it from view.   

Here are a few ideas of some good hiding spots: 
Trees – especially in the knots, holes, or forks where branches spread out, but do not make them climb for it.
Shrubs – at the base or nearby...maybe you can use a little mulch to help camouflage something at the base of a shrub
Buildings – Anywhere along the perimeter of your school building would be an appropriate place. Landmarks – School signs, playgrounds, flagpoles or other “significant” spots on your school campus
Once you have a map of your schoolyard with good hiding spots in mind, you will be ready to begin one of the Try This First! activities in the Educaching manual. These will be offered in subsequent blog posts. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Educaching in the Primary Grades

Recently, a fellow educator inquired about how to best begin caching with her 1st graders. First off, let me say, what a bold teacher! Having mostly taught caching with 4th and 5th graders, but having also taught K-5, I admire anyone who wants to put this great learning technology into their younger students' hands!

So, if that describes you...hang in there and do your research! Here are a few ideas to get you started: 

The best thing to do with primary students is to first acquaint them with the GPS receivers, cache containers, and how to do a basic search for a cache container. From there, you can build on what they know and adapt practically everything in your curriculum to meet student needs and take them on hunts.

If you have the Educaching curriculum, you can familiarize your young students with how to begin by going through the Try This First! lessons beginning on page 13 of the manual. GPS Club is also a great way to springboard into Educaching with your students. It is a great introductory set of activities, is objective-based, and even includes a pre/post test.

I found some other discussions/resources online that may also help (listed below) or you can always search this blog.

2. Here's a helpful powerpoint slideshow that gives ideas for primary and upper grades.

3. An article on connecting Geocaching to literature...could be done by pairing your primary students with older children or by having adults help.

5. Here's a wiki that shows pictures of primary students caching, what they found, and what they did with those things back in the classroom.

If you have other great resources to teach caching to young students, post a comment here!

Keep 'em Caching,

Jason and The Educaching Team

Monday, April 14, 2014

STEMlandia! The Nature's Apprentice Geocaching Adventure

So if you are in the Boston area over the next month or so, you have to check out this Geocaching Labs event! It is a chance to explore an arboretum while geocaching and better understanding the importance of S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Even if you cannot attend, be sure to follow the link and check out the geocaching passport below, as they are sure to give you ideas for interesting S.T.E.M.-related hunts you could create in your own school's area!
Jason and The Educaching Team