Geocaching in the Classroom

Geocaching: An active instructional strategy

What is it?

Geocaching is a real world treasure hunt happening right now around the world. People go to the website and download the app to find hidden treasures using a handheld GPS. They then enter their zip code to locate the caches in there area. A cache is a hidden treasure usually in a plastic container or box and is of little value. Now they are ready to select the cache they want to find and follow the GPS to the coordinates. Generally once the cache is found it is logged onto the website and left for the next treasure hunter to find. You can also put out your own caches and advertise them on the website for others to find.

As a Classroom Strategy

Geocaching can be used to support student-centered classrooms by engaging students in collaborative learning. It can easily be used for any subject area to either introduce, practice, quiz or explore a concept. All you need to get started are a few handheld GPS' or Smartphones and teacher made caches. The caches could be as simple as clean take out food containers or as imaginative as plastic insects. Then just fill the cache with the question, prompt or activity you want kids to complete once they find it and hide inside or outside the school. After that, you just need to set the ground rules and the goal, assign groups and roles and let the exploring begin.


Geocaching is an active and collaborative learning strategy. It actively engages students in multi-step tasks that require teamwork, problem solving, and communication skills. When students are collaboratively learning they are required to use their prior knowledge, verbal communication, listening skills and critical thinking skills. The National Center on AIM says that, "activating relevant prior knowledge by expressing in some form what one already knows about a topic has been demonstrated to be more effective" to student learning.This strategy is motivating to students because it gets them directly involved in the learning process and allows them to use technology. According to a case study conducted by SRI International, "The most common...teacher-reported effect on students [when using technology] was an increase in motivation." Geocaching puts current, real world technology into students hands and has them using it in a meaningful and practical way that can be carried over to real life.


Introductory Lesson on Insects

I am using geocaching to introduce my science unit on insects. I have created 6 caches using plastic insects with prompts, questions or props inside and hidden them on the playground for students to find using the coordinates I supplied. The students will take on roles listed below and those roles will rotate for each cache so everyone has a chance to use the GPS.

Student Roles

  • Navigator (hold the GPS and follow the coordinates)
  • Recorder (writes responses on clipboard)
  • Detective (reads clues given through the iPad for what the cache might look like)
  • Controller (confirms the location and reads the cache)

Using the prompts, questions and props in the caches students will discuss and record their prior knowledge of insects and come up with questions they have about insects. After their search they will come back to the classroom to share out and discuss their responses.


  • Pick a unit you teach with your students
  • Create caches to hide with questions and prompts to activate student's prior knowledge
  • Hide the caches and have students work in groups to find them
  • Have them record their responses
  • Then have students compile their responses into a KWL
  • Throughout the unit students can add or change their KWL within their groups

*without GPS - create a map of the school or playground and star the caches or write clues to help the students find them.


Deyenberg, Jen. (2010). Grasshopper cache [image] Retrieved from

National wildlife federation. Luke reading gps [image]. retrieved 21 November 2013, from

Lo, Burt. (2010). GPS and geocaching in education (PDF). International society for technology in education. Retrieved from

Hall, T. and Strangman, N. (2009). National center for assessing general curriculum. Retrieved from

SRI International Technology and education reform: Effects of technology on classrooms and students. Retrieved 20 November 2013 from

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