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Over the years I’ve always felt the importance of teaching my kids about the world we live in – geography’s been both a cornerstone and a foundation of our studies.
It is just as accurate to say that geography and studies of world cultures have been the lens through which I approached our homeschooling. After all, the world that God has created and blessed us with – the planet and country and even time we are located in are divinely appointed.
Geography provides a context for it all!
Ok, ok, so that may be a bit too deep if you haven’t had your coffee yet, but that was my active thought process when I discovered geocaching!
That, and it was a great tech tool to incorporate into our studies!
So what is geocaching?
Geocaching is the process of using satellite technology to locate finds, or “caches.” Caches can range from Tupperware containers to tackle boxes to coffee cans. They’re hidden in hollows of trees, or under drain-pipes or behind rocks. Usually, there is a small notebook or pad where you can note your name and the date when you discovered your treasure. Often there are small prizes inside which you are invited to take and trade (take one and leave a new one).
What’s the process?
When we first started geocaching “back in the day” we used my husband’s mobile Garmin, but these days you can download a geocaching app to your iPhone or Android (there are more than 2 dozen free ones available – take your time and find one that works for you!). This is the one that I use today.
Once you find one and get it booted up, you’re ready to rock and roll! Find one that’s close by and easy when you’re getting your feet wet!
How do you leave a cache?
The beauty of this hobby is in its simplicity! Find a weatherproof container, not too big, and able to be sealed tightly. Include a small log-book and pencil, consider placing some small gifts to trade, and, once you’re satisfied that it meets all the requirements, submit the location for review at Geocaching.com. Watch a video, take a quiz, and learn more about the requirements here. While requirements aren’t prohibitive, the Geocaching site takes care to ensure that caches are accessible, reasonably spaced out and vetted by a real-live person, ensuring that your search will be fun and successful!
Applications of geocaching to learning…
- This generation doesn’t really need much training in the use of technology, but preparing our kids for a lifetime of learning does require us to “connect the dots” at some level. This is a great way to show them how technology can help “solve a problem.”
- Reading and using the coordinates shown (which appear when you get close to your find) helps them (and perhaps parents, too!) understand the real life connecting between lines of longitude and latitude and just how specifically they identify an exact location. (I know it kinda blew my mind the first time we did this!)
- Additionally, this is a great way to take learning out of the home/classroom and into the world. It’s amazing what may come up in conversation and observation as you hunt and search. I’d strongly suggest you take a notebook to jot things down to follow up with later, whether it’s through library/internet research, or discussion around the dinner table.
- And if you’re a notebooking fan, make SURE you have the kids bring ’em along. Lots of opportunities for drawing and sketching, note taking and active learning!
If you already cache, please feel free to leave comments below to help any “newbies”! And if you don’t (yet!)…what’s holding you back?