This blog is where we share our homeschooling journey. Our style is eclectic, employing strategies like notebooking, workboxing, and some relaxed unschooling I like to call organic or free-range learning.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Geocaching- A Perfect Unschooler Activity

Geocaching app-location map
As a relaxed/mixed unschooler who firmly believes in "strewing" and offering activities to my daughter, I'm always on the lookout for interesting ideas. The latest find is one the family had great fun with this past weekend--geocaching.

For the uninitiated, geocaching is a sort of global treasure hunt where people hide boxes or "caches"all over the world for others to find via GPS (on a smartphone or handheld unit). The caches may be tiny, the size of a hide-a-key box or smaller, or they might be very large. Inside the geocaches, there might be little toys, coins, or other fun items that you can take (and swap for a trinket you leave in its place), but many hold only a log book for you to sign when you find it. Some are fairly straightforward to find right around town, while others are more challenging and off the beaten path. Chances are there are many caches around your hometown. There are over 2 million caches hidden worldwide!

Our 1st find! Hide-a-key size
Participating in geocaching is as easy as going to the official website, You can sign up there and start searching for nearby caches right from your computer. Then you can download an app for your phone that will help you find caches on the go! 

This whole thing sounded right up my family's alley, and we were eager to give it a try.  Our first day out, we found 3 caches and searched for 2 others we couldn't quite spot (they can be a little tricky to keep random folks from stumbling over them by accident).  Bri was thrilled when we found the third box and there was a tiny costume jewelry ring inside. We traded it for money and signed the book.

From a learning perspective, geocaching offered several opportunities rolled into one:
Technology (using GPS)
Social Studies-
Bri sports her treasure
Social Responsibility (replacing the cache carefully; honor system of taking only one item and swapping it for something of equal or greater value)
Phys Ed-some hiking and depending on the difficulty level, climbing can be required to get to caches
Language Arts and Logic-Reading clues, some which can be vague, about cache locations. Decrypting special hints that are often available.s

This can be a fun companion activity while traveling to new places, and for a challenge, families who like camping or hiking in woods or other out-of-the-way locales may try their hand at some of the tougher caches!

We plan to do more geocaching, and eventually, we may even hide one of our own. That would offer Bri a whole other side to this unique learning experience: picking out a suitable weatherproof container, deciding what items to include in it, finding a hiding place, writing up the description and clues, submitting it to the geocaching site, and being responsible for maintaining the cache once approved.

If you decide to try this, be sure to check out the 101 videos on the geocaching website. Make sure to go prepared--wear jeans and practical shoes, take water, and I recommend gloves or at very least, a wary eye (spiders sometimes weave their work nearby caches). Also, bring a pen or pencil so your family can sign the log books!

Have you tried geocaching? What did you think of it?