Treasure Hunts and Geocaching: O&M lessons

Occasionally I have little ones who just aren’t motivated to get up and go. They may have decent cane skills but just don’t want to practice and refine their techniques. They may have been oriented to their new school but still say they are lost.  Just say the words TREASURE HUNT and their interest is piqued. 

The first treasure hunts I do are simple but the kiddos love it and beg for more.  I talk about doing a treasure hunt and tell them maybe someday we will do one.  I make a list of all the school destinations I want to insure that the student can locate. Using that list I prepare braille notes that will take the student from one destination to another.  It starts with a note handed to the student by his teacher stating that it’s a TREASURE HUNT day, followed by instructions to locate the treasure at the first destination. Each note gives a reason why the treasure is not there and sends the student to the next location. As an O&M specialist I’m able to observe from a distance and watch the student demonstrate their independence, their confidence in finding each target, and their ability to correct errors. I’m able to observe cane skills and problem solving skills. Hidden at the end is I with their favorite treat!

Another fun activity I use outside of school is Geocaching. Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity in which participants use a GPS to hide or seek containers known as geocaches or caches. These caches are marked by coordinates.  It’s easy to get started.  

Getting Started

  1. www.geocaching.com to access or set up a free account.                                                                                                                
  2. Click on Hide & Seek a Cache
  3. Enter the zip code of the area in which you want to look for a cache
  4. Click on any cache for more information, clues, and the coordinates
  5. Enter the coordinates in your GPS  (I use a Garmin Rino 110)
  6. Follow the directions which will lead you to within 10 feet of the cache. Your GPS will indicate distance and direction to the cache location. It counts down the distance as you get closer.
  7. Once located you can sign the enclosed log, take a trinket and leave a trinket, then log in on the website to keep track of all the caches you have found.  (As you get the hang of it you will start to recognize how the caches are hidden.)
  8. You can set up your own caches by deciding on a location, hiding your own cache, using your GPS to identify the coordinates of the location and using the coordinates to travel to that location.

The DOWN side

  • My GPS does not have auditory/voice output
  • My totally blind students need a sighted partner
  • Caches are found within 10 feet of where coordinates indicate

The UP side

  • Its fun and the students love a mobility lesson that ends with a reward (Trinkets). I’ve hidden braille books, braille dice, braille cards etc.
  • It gets the kids up and moving
  • They have a destination
  • It can become a great family activity, especially with siblings. Siblings often have a difficult time with the attention their blind brother or sister gets. Geocaching has allowed me to teach siblings basic human guide techniques, lets them observe their siblings independence, and gives them an outdoor activity they can do together. 

When doing this activity with a sibling I make sure my student can give all the instructions. I have them ask leading questions (is the arrow pointing to the North? How many feet ‘til we reach our cache?) I make sure the students know the type of cache ( mini, micro, regular) and then ask questions related to where the particular sized cache could be hidden( a hole in a tree, under a pile of sticks, attached to a metal sign with a magnet)

Collage of geocaching

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