Friday, October 23, 2009

Educaching – TOS Review


My families new favorite past time is geocaching. When I tell people this, most of them say, “You what”.

Wikipedia says that geocaching is an outdoor activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called "geocaches" or "caches") anywhere in the world.

We have spent hours looking up “caches” on the internet and then driving around our town and trying to find them. My husband and son have even made their own and they are listed on the official Geocaching website.

So, when we were asked if we had a GPS by our crew leader, I got pretty excited. I thought sure we do. I have to admit though that ours is fairly old. So, I asked my brother if we could borrow his if we need a “good one”. Within a few days I had received a new curriculum called Educaching. This book was written by Jason Hubbard who is a 5th grade school teacher. The home page of their website says Educaching® curriculum incorporates GPS technology in the classroom. In the spirit of Geocaching, this GPS based curriculum includes lesson plans that fully integrate all subject matter while featuring math, science and technology.

This is great for all public school students and I think even more so for homeschool students. We are always looking for ways to take our learning outdoors. My children seem to retain so much more when they are moving.

The downloadable version that I received is actually a 128 page manual.

It includes five sections and includes everything you need to implement geocaching into your curriculum.

1. Teacher’s Training: know the lingo, lesson plans, equipment and gear and management.

2. Lesson Plans: there are 21 lesson plans ranging from beginner to advanced, something for everyone.

3. Field Sheets: these are the actual sheets you use to incorporate this fun activity. This is where you put the coordinates for the kids to find.

4. Acquiring GPS: this section tells you exactly what kind of GPS to use and how schools could get them through fundraising or grant writing.

5. Beyond the Basics: this tells you many other ways you can incorporate GPS into your curriculum. There are ideas for everything from Sudoku to student created educaches.

We picked the beginner cache called On Average to try. It took me a few tries to get all of the coordinates written on the field guide sheet. I also drew a map of our back yard so the kids had an idea where to find each one. There is also an area for this on the sheet. I hid 5 little boxes with small objects in them for the kids to measure. We then discussed how to find an average for all of their measurements. They had no trouble finding the boxes even though our GPS has a 60 feet radius in all directions that it can be off. At the end, they added up all of the lengths and divided by 5. They used the calculator that was hidden with the 5th box to find this average. When I asked them if they liked this they screamed “YES”.

We are going to do more of these great educaching ideas (even though we may have to wait now for warmer weather). My kids loved getting outside and doing math. I know that they will remember doing this every time they find the average of something in the future. Oh yeah, our old yard sale GPS worked just fine. We didn’t have to borrow a newer one to use this curriculum. I wouldn’t say that this would be worth buying a GPS system for, but if you have one, it is a great way to get your kids to love learning and to get them outside. I think this would be great for kids who attend a brick and mortar school to help them get outside and enjoy nature during the day.

This is also a great way to get started in geocaching. We have found this to be a great way to spend more family time together. Anything that encourages that is a definite plus in my book.

You can get this curriculum for yourself at for $32.00 plus $6.95 shipping and handling. This is for the teacher manual in a 3-ring binder and a CD with templates that you can customize. Want it quicker? You can also order it in a downloadable electronic version for the same price. Another good thing about this is there is no shipping and handling. They also offer Complete Kits that include a handheld GPS system. You can view these kits here.

You can see what the other crew members have to say about this here.

Please note that I received this item to review as part of the TOS homeschool crew. I received no money in exchange for an honest review of how we used this in our family.

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