Getting Started Geocaching with Your Students

  1. Decide what part of the curriculum you want to integrate with GPS devices?  Anything goes!!!!  What do you want the students to learn from the activity or how will completing this activity enhance the curriculum that you have taught in the classroom?
  2. Find out how many GPS devices you have available to use and determine who to contact if you need to check them out from the Central Office, Media Center or even a friend.
  3. This is an outside activity.  You need to survey the area and decide if you are going to use part of the school grounds, an area within walking distance to your school, or an area or location within a planned field trip, etc.
  4. Decide how you will use “Caches.”  Do you want your students to locate a hidden object (bags, boxes, envelopes) based on coordinates like a treasure hunt or will you “I SPY” an object and then locate its coordinates like a scavenger hunt.
    • Treasure Hunt – Determine how many items/things that you want your students to look for, how you are going to hide or camouflage them and what locations will be used for hiding your items.
    • Scavenger Hunt – What do you want the students to search for so that they can get the correct coordinates?
  5. Organize your materials and plan out your cache locations.  I like to print out a map of the area that I am going to use for the activity (Google Earth is a good source) so that I can mark where I am going to hide items.  I also prepare a blank spreadsheet that I use to write down the coordinates/locations of my caches while I am outside.
  6. Get Volunteers.  If you are going to break your class into groups and walk around a large area, I suggest having an adult volunteer assigned to each group.  By providing an adult “leader” for each group you can make sure that students stay focused, aren’t arguing and that they don’t go out of the boundaries of the area because they are having difficulty reading the GPS device.  If you are using a small area/location, you could use your volunteers as perimeter boundaries while they are observing the students complete the activity.
  7. Determine your experts.  I find this type of activity to be a wonderful way to collaborate with the Classroom Teacher (CT), Media Specialist (MS), Instructional Technology Facilitator (ITF) and anyone else that you have in your workplace.  Each of these people can be the expert in teaching part of the lesson.  For example, the CT deals with the main parts of the curriculum, the MS supports the curriculum with integrated lessons, the ITF instructs the students on the proper care and use of any devices used and all of them work together to complete the hands-on outside GPS activity.
  8. Communicate with your administration and facilities staff so that they know why there are bags, boxes, envelopes around the school in hidden locations.  You need to prepare some of the “Muggles” ahead of time so that they don’t pick up your items thinking that they are trash or get worried that someone has planted items on your school grounds.
  9. Finally, because this is an outside activity, keep an eye on the weather!  Have a backup plan for an inside activity if Mother Nature does not cooperate and a back up date to try again outside.

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