Geocaching in Elementary School

by janet.powell

I am intrigued by Geocaching. The thought of going treasure hunting with your teacher and classmates alone should get every kid exciting. Going high tech treasure hunting…even better.So, I started researching a bit on how to integrate geocaching in our elementary school. ISTE‘s magazine Learning & Leading just happen to give a comparison of several GPS systems on the market in last months magazine.This morning my iTunes starts downloading TechChickTips‘ newest podcast episode, that is a companion to their article in School Library Journal about (what a surprise) Geocaching.

The most interesting idea is the so called “Travel Bugs”.

by EDubya

Geocaching.com describes a Travel Bug as:

Each Travel Bug has its own unique tracking number stamped on it. This tracking number is used as proof by the user that they found the item. It also doubles as a way for the user to locate the personal web page for the travel bug.

Travel Bugs are tracked with the help of users who go online and “grab” them from caches, or receive them from users. The idea is by picking up and dropping off Travel Bugs on the web site you are mirroring the Bug’s real world adventures. Each Travel Bug has its own “diary” that follows its movements.

After searching for “travel bug”, “geocaching”, “elementary school”, the following site from Munn Elementary School came up.

As part of our cache, we will plant “travel bugs”. These are small airplanes that have specific goals. We have an airplane for each grade level K-5, one for the staff, and one for Munn parents. Each grade level or group has come up with goals to enrich their curriculum. Kindergarten will be watching the journey to find out about animals in different regions of the world. First grade will be learning about different family cultures, traditions and holidays around the world. Second grade is about different community helpers in the world. Third graders are excited to learn more about the different communities around the world – how they are similar and different from us. Fourth grade is hoping their travel bug will stay in New York State and travel to historical sites, geographic features, and major cities. Fifth grade‘s goal is to have their plane travel to as many different locations, geographic features, state capitals, provinces, and monuments in North America as possible.

Check out their website to find the links of their travel bugs on geocaching.com and see how far their travel bugs have made it.

Here are other ideas, that I have collected and thought of for using travel bugs in the elementary school classroom:

  • Locate cities and counties where your or other travel bugs travel (mapping)
  • How many miles have TB traveled? (math, graphing)
  • Writing and designing caches, clues, and travel bugs goals (writing, History, Social Studies, Science)
  • Tracking visitors (math)

I also stumbled upon this great Webquest, which is a fantastic resource for teachers, who wants to start sending a Travel Bug off with their students.

Travel Bug

You will find a teacher’s resource page with sample letter to parents and one to send with the Travel Bug.