Thursday, September 12, 2013

Show Your Homeschool Spirit By Going GeoCaching - A Fun, Educational, Family Activity

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International Homeschool Spirit Week is September 23rd-27th this year! We participated last year and had tons of fun!

Here are the themes this year:
  • Pajama Day - Monday, September 23rd -Sponsored by CurrClick
  • Homeschool Away from Home Day – Tuesday, September 24th - Sponsored by iHomeschool Network
  • Crazy Hairstyle Day – Wednesday, September 25th - Sponsored by Hip Homeschool Moms
  • Volunteer Outside Your Home Day – Thursday, September 26th - Sponsored by Great Homeschool Conventions
  • Super Hero Day – Friday, September 27th - Sponsored by Free Homeschool Deals
Need something inexpensive, educational and fun to do for Homeschool Away From Home Day

Go Geocaching!

Are you looking for a fun, educational family activity? Something that will get you outdoors and take you on an adventure? Then keep on reading to learn more about Geocaching.

So what’s Geocaching?
Geocaching is treasure hunting using a GPS unit. Caches (the “treasure”) can be found all over the World. They can be at your local park, at the end of a long hike, underwater or on the side of a city street.

Geocaching Logo, 150
Photo credit

How do you get started?
To get started locate caches near you by creating a free account on the Geocache website. Make sure you also read the Geocaching 101 page too. The Geocache website helps you locate the 6+ million caches worldwide. You can search by city, state, address, longitude, latitude, name etc. Once you do a search you will be able to see a list of all the caches near your location in both a list and map format. You can also view further details about the caches including: cache names, difficulty, cache size, cache type, date last found, date placed, etc. Click on the cache you want to go hunting for to view further details, clues, logged visits and more.

Feel free to add us as a friend we call ourselves the balman4! One of our Geocaching goals is to complete all the GA state park caches. There are 50 state parks and 14 historic sites that participate. Your state parks may also participate; just visit your state parks website or contact them to find out.

Profile for balman4

Next get a GPS unit. We use one on my cellphone that I downloaded for free. I have an Android phone and really like C:Geo App. There are also several apps you can purchase like the official App which is $9.99 (available for iPhone, Android, Windows 7).

Other options are purchasing a handheld GPS for around $100 on Amazon. Or using your portable car GPS. We used our TomTom before, and it worked fine. Just make sure that the battery is fully charged and that you change the settings to walking instead of driving. Sometimes I print out the Geocaches information from the website to have as a back up just in case something happens to our GPS unit. And we also always have an old fashioned compass just in case.

Next download or manually enter the coordinates into your device. You are now ready to set out on an amazing adventure to find a hidden treasure. Your GPS should guide you right to the Cache or at least get you in close proximity to it. If you're stumped you can look at the clues and photos from the previous logged visits on the Geocache’s detail page to help you (I still have to do this sometimes). You will need to think outside of the box. Remember these are hidden treasures. The people who hide them do not want them to be easily found by Muggles (term used to describe Non-Geocachers). Many times you will need to think creatively. When you are in the area where the Cache is hidden start looking for spots that look like good hiding spots like under rocks, inside tree cavities etc. Also look for off beaten paths that may have been created by previous Geocachers. 

And finally, make sure you log your find on the Geocaching website. The people who created the cache love to read about people who have found it.

So what's in the cache?
All kinds of cool stuff!!! What treasures you will find inside really depends on the container type and size. My kids have gotten stickers, small toys, pens, pins, etc. The GA state parks require the use of a green ammo box, and this is what most cache creators use because it is camouflaged and waterproof. Inside each cache is generally a log book (which you will want to sign) and sometimes various trinkets that others have left behind. If you wish to take a trinket (which my kids always do) you will need to replace it with a trinket of greater or equal value. There may also be trackables like our Homeschool Pinocchio, who is traveling the globe right now!

We recently just found our first Micro Cache. These Caches are about 2 inches in length and can be very hard to find (like a 35mm film canister). There are also EarthCaches, Mystery/Puzzle Caches and Geocaching Challenges (we have completed 10 of these). You can read more about the types of Geocaches here.

Depending on the Cache adventure you're choosing make sure your prepared and take plenty of sunscreen, bug spray, water, snacks, first aid kit and definitely a camera. Oh, and of course your GPS!

How can you make it educational?
Geocaching is the perfect opportunity to get your children out for an adventurous field trip. It covers so many subjects (including PE) and can be an excellent learning experience. Each time we go on a Geocache we discover new exciting things. We have learned about insects, waterfalls, birds, rocks, Indians, compasses, GPS's, rivers, mountains, flowers the list goes sure to read more about our nature studies! Both of my children draw pictures and write in their journals about the many fabulous things we experience during our trips. After a Geocache adventure you can go home and continue the learning with some fun unit studies or lapbooks that go along with the various things you explored on your journey. There are tons of great items on CurrClick to help you get started like this FREE Spider Mini Helper, Flowers Lapbook ($1.00) and Rock and Minerals Unit Study ($2.99).

Also be sure to check out these fabulous field trip resources (that can be used for any field trip adventure) on CurrClick like this Field Trip Lapbook from Simple Schooling (currently FREE) and these Field Trip Notebooking Pages ($5.00).

And that's it! You are now ready to experience an awesome adventure with your family and friends. To find out more about Geocaching make sure you also follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Links to follow to join the fun:
  • Homeschool Spirit Week website
  • Homeschool Spirit Week on Twitter use hashtag #hsswcar 
  • Homeschool Spirit Week on Facebook
  • Homeschool Spirit Week Google +
If you go on a Geocache adventure after reading this post please come back and leave a link to the cache you found and let me know what you thought of this fun, educational, family activity!


Rhonda Case said...

We are joining in for the first time and can't wait for the week of fun to begin! Our family loves geocaching and find it fits so well with a homeschool family who loves to wander. Thanks for the great post!

Betsy @ said...

Great explanation of geocaching, I liked the explanation of how to make it educational for the kids

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