Monday, November 2, 2009

Review: Educaching

Whether you're directionally-challenged or not, chances are you have some sort of GPS device planted in your car or cell phone. Ours happens to be a nifty little Garmin, affectionately named "Martha".

Martha's been fairly good to us over the past year or so, helping us navigate through the rugged terrain of the Greater Seattle area. Although most roads lead to the freeway, there's the whole getting off the freeway and finding your way around after that, that's the hard part. Martha may have a quirky panache for taking us along the scenic route, but overall she's been a helpful, "fluent in droning monotone" co-pilot.

Why all this discussion about Martha? Well because without a Martha of your own, you'll have an impossible time utilizing this next homeschool product review, Educaching.

Educaching is a GPS based curriculum that incorporates math, science, and technology. Many homeschoolers are already familiar with GeoCaching, which (for those of you scratching your heads in confusion) involves using a hand-held GPS device to locate various hidden treasures or "cache" (pronounced "cash") in the area. You can learn more about this by visiting

Our family had never been Geo or Educaching before, although we do know a few families that have and ADORED it. This was actually something I'd been curious to learn more about but, due to my Swiss cheese brain, never got around to it.

As part of the TOS Crew, I received a digital copy the Educaching curriculum to review. My review is based on my family's experience only, and I received no additional compensation beyond the product itself.

What is it:

Educaching as previously stated, utilizes a hand-held GPS receiver to lead students on a hunt for various treasures or "cache". The cache can be hidden in any number of areas (near a rock, in a mailbox, up a tree, etc). All you have to do is track of the cache's coordinates, plug 'em into the receiver, send your kiddies on their quest, and off ya go!

This 128 page manual is available in PDF format for $32, or in a 3-ring Binder for $32 plus $6.95 shipping. Classroom Kits are also available for $129 and up, containing 1 or more hand-held GPS devices.

The curriculum is broken down into 5 Sections for easy navigation (Ha! Get it?):

Section 1: Teacher Training

  • I totally needed this as, like I said, I've never done any sort of Geo or Edu caching before. The section explains in plenty detail just what it is you're trying to accomplish and how your GPS system works (didn't know all that myself!--Ahem).
Section 2: Lesson Plans
  • Pretty self-explanatory, really. In this section, you'll find several lessons divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced sections. Also provided is a National Standards List which may or may not be beneficial to you. (I personally don't seek to conform to standards, so I skimmed this part.)
Section 3: Field Sheets
  • These printables coordinate to the various lesson plans. Also provided are student and teacher maps.
Section 4: Acquiring GPS
  • Information about Grant Writing and fundraising. This section would be most helpful in a classroom or co-op setting, not your average homeschooling family, seeking to add GPS based curriculum to their school.
Section 5: Beyond the Basics
  • This section is actually pretty interesting as it contains info about forming your own Geocaching club, incorporating iPod usage into your hunts (Podcaching), races, postcards and more. While many of the ideas are great in theory, I would think they'd require a large group of students to perform properly such as (again) a school or co-op.

My Opinion:

I found this curriculum to be a great introduction to the world of geo/educaching. I appreciated the way everything was broken down, step-by-step, so that even newbies like me could get the gist of it.

Although Martha gave me more than a few fits at first, we soon came to an agreement that if she behaved herself, I wouldn't dump her in the nearest receptacle. (Seems she prefers my husband to me. Ahem.)

The kids really enjoyed the whole process (once Mom figured it out), and are eager to go on more educaching adventures in the very (very!) near future. In fact, my son asked if school could be like this all the time! :) (I told him that'd be fine but next time, Daddy's dealing with Martha.)

To learn more about this fun product, please visit their website by clicking here.

We're pleased to award Educaching 2 happy, snoopy-dancing thumbs up! :)

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