Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Homeschool + GPS = Fun!

As a 2nd year member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to review many homeschool products over the next several months. The only compensation that I receive for my review is the free product. I feel truly blessed to be participating in this review group and I'm looking forward to trying out more products and giving you my honest opinion.

When I first heard I would be reviewing Educaching I excitedly called my husband to tell him we finally had a reason to get a GPS. No, I'm not particularly directionally challenged...actually, I just wanted to go geocaching!

If you've never heard of geocaching than you should really check out geocaching.com. Basically, it's a treasure hunt using the coordinates settings on a handheld GPS system. Go to geocaching.com, punch in your zipcode and you will likely find hundreds of caches in your area. Caches are the "treasure" you're looking for...usually just small containers with a logbook to sign your name proving that you were there.

Educaching is a curriculum written for teachers to combine learning with the fun of geocaching. Using the lessons from Educaching, teachers will hide caches in their yard and take note of the coordinates. Armed with a GPS, students will find the caches and work the lessons. The thrill of the hunt keeps the students working!

We decided we would first introduce the kids to the GPS with a day of actual geocaching. We headed to a local park with the coordinates of three caches hidden there. However, after reading a little closer we found that one was hidden in an hard-to-get-to-with-toddlers-in-tow part of the park and another was next to an old cemetery. That didn't bother me, but the warning that rats inhabited the area did. So we searched...and searched...and searched for the third cache, but couldn't find it.

Instead we opted to play at the park...

Luckily, our Educaching lesson went much smoother.
First Dad hid objects all around our lot and wrote down the coordinates. (What a fun way to get Dad involved in homeschool, btw!) G8 was the only one who could easily use the GPS system.

One of our caches!

For this lesson, the kids had to measure the objects in inches and centimeters before getting the next coordinates.

They all recorded their findings.

Finally, the last cache (hidden in the mailbox) was found. It was a baggie of suckers, which were promptly measured and gobbled right up!

Educaching includes 20 detailed lesson plans in many different subject areas including math, science, and language arts. The lessons are geared towards grades 4-8, but there were many that I thought were suitable for my kids (3rd grade and under). You'll also find a Teacher Training section that teaches you about the GPS systems and how to use them. Reproducible worksheets for each of the lessons are included as well.

At only $32, I think this curriculum is a great buy! What's more important than the lessons themselves is that you will be inspired to add a refreshing twist to your homeschool. There will definitely be more Educaching lessons in our future.

...And don't worry, we're not giving up on geocaching either. We borrowed the handheld GPS this time, but I've got one on my Christmas list...

Visit the Educaching website to order and see free sample lessons. Check out the TOS Crew blog for more reviews.

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