Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Geocaching and Education, part 6 - Container Ideas

This is post #6 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

        When hiding geocaches for your students, you will need good cache containers. The most important thing about the container is that you do not want it to be easily noticed. This is for the sake of the students (so it is not too easy for them to find), but you also do not want a non-student finding it and thinking it is garbage or tampering with it in any way, ruining the experience for your students. A container should be fairly small and somewhat camouflaged. It can be camouflaged by its surroundings (i.e. shrubs, trees, bark, mulch, and so on) or, you can use camouflage (green or otherwise) tape to wrap around smaller containers to make them look more natural, like they “fit in” with the surrounding environment. I have also used various brown and green camouflage spray paints (around $5 per can or less). You can take all your containers outside, put them on a sheet of cardboard, and spray them all at the same time. They may need repainted every few years, as the paint tends to wear off with handling. Listed here are a few ideas of what you can use to hide items.
  • Plastic film canisters – Yes, they still have these around! Go to your nearest photo lab or grocery store photo counter and simply tell them you are an educator and need these for a project. They will most likely give you a bagful! Amazingly, people are still using 35mm film out there. 
  • Waterproof match container – These can be bought at little cost in the camping section of many stores and are perfect for hiding tiny, rolled up notes.
  • Plastic zip-style baggies – These, of course, are very affordable, waterproof, and can be reused. Be careful that there is something heavy enough in them that they won’t blow away!
  • Plastic food containers with lids – Coming in all shapes and sizes, these containers might be just what you need for hiding a variety of items. These containers can be easily painted or camo-taped.
  • Plastic plumbing pipes with caps – These provide a capsule-like container for storing almost any item and can be different diameters in size. They can be cut at any length if you or someone you know is handy enough. They can be made economically with materials bought at most hardware and Do-It-Yourself stores. SAFETY NOTE: Think first...would this look too much like an "unsafe" container and draw suspicion? If so, maybe it could use a label that says it is part of an educational scavenger hunt. Otherwise, avoid this type of container.
  • Hide-A-Key containers – For an interesting twist, there are some great “fake rock” containers on the market that hide something small, like a key. This could get pricy to buy several, but it would be fun to have one or two and see what the students do when they stumble upon it!
  • Ammo Boxes – If you have a military surplus store nearby, you might want to see if they have ammo boxes. These can hold larger items, lock down to keep moisture out, and are already painted to blend in. Many hunting/fishing/camping stores have plastic versions of these.
  • Mint and Gum Containers – Look for plastic mint and gum containers that would be able to hide small messages, then paint them or wrap them in camouflage tape.
Use your imagination to come up with more container ideas. Feel free to post your ideas here to share with others.