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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Hide & Seek by Katy Grant – What is GEOCACHING & how can you integrate this in middle school?

Want to begin your 2010-2011 school year with an exciting integrated project? How about integrating geography skills with detection? Take advantage of GPS technology and promote the outdoors.  Share Hide & Seek with your students and set up a geocaching project.

Katy Grant’s newest middle school title is Hide & Seek. Published by Peachtree Publishers with an August 2010 release. ISBN 978-1-56145-542-3 $15.95 Ages 8-12.

Publisher’s Description: After a summer cooped up in his family’s store selling bait, tackle, and soft drinks to tourists, fourteen-year-old Chase finally gets a chance to go on his first solo geocaching adventure. Using his GPS, he uncovers the geocache—a small metal box—hidden in a remote clearing in the mountains. Inside, Chase finds a troubling message scrawled in a child’s handwriting. When Chase returns later, he finds another message this time asking for food. He is curious—and worried—about the mysterious individuals leaving the messages. What if they are hopelessly lost, or hiding from something—or someone? Before he can turn to the adults around him for help, Chase is pulled into a complex, dangerous drama and a chilling confrontation with an unstable father who will stop at nothing to hold on to his children. Young readers will learn all about the high-tech adventure game of geocaching in Katy Grant’s exciting novel that features heart-pounding action and surprising plot twists.

Katy Grant is the author of the  Summer Camp Secrets series. This mystery was a dead-on read for ages 8-12. The main character is dealing with major changes in his life, yet as he grows in the story he realizes he can cope with change. I can’t describe the mystery too much because I’ll spoil the story so let me comment on the game aspect.  The outdoors & nature aspect will appeal to those learners we neglect the most in schools. Whether you believe there is a learning style for naturalists or not, this title will inspire students to get out of doors.

Hide & Seek is set in the White Mountains of Arizona.  For everyone who thinks the weather in the entire state of Arizona hovers at 120 degrees, visiting the weather site of the White Mountains will surprise you. July averages 81 degrees for a high and 51 degrees for a low.  With three peaks soaring over 10,000 feet high, no wonder this is a vacation paradise for families.

If you go to the website, you’ll be amazed at the number of people already participating in projects.  While visiting with my parents in Washta, Iowa, I mentioned this topic. My mother Sue Ritts who works at the local gas station/convenience store in Quimby, Iowa, knew of people who participate. When I plugged in their zip code, I found two located within a quarter mile of the house I’m sitting in.  One of them actually was called Driving on the Ritts (my maiden name) and the other describes the difficulty accessing the site of Ritts Access or Ritts Area along the Inkpaduta Canoe Trail.  Perhaps I need to take a little walk today.

Try out the website yourself to see what is already hidden near you.  Perhaps your class would like to hide a cache and monitor its being found via the online logs.

Courtesy of Peachtree Publishers, here is information on “How to Get In On The Geocaching Game”:

What is geocaching?

Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of comunity and support for the environment.

Getting Started:

  1. Register for a free basic membership at
  2. Click “Hide & Seek a Cache.”
  3. Enter your zip code and click “search.”
  4. Choose any geocache from the list and click on its name.
  5. Enter the coordinates of the geocache into your GPS device.
  6. Record the coordinates of your starting point so you can find your way back.
  7. Start your treasure hunt!

Once You Find the Cache:

  1. Open the cache and look at what’s inside. You should find a logbook, pen and various “treasures.”
  2. If you take something from the cache, be sure to leave something of equal or greater value.
  3. Write about your experience in the geocache logbook.
  4. Leave the geocache as you found it, in the same location, so that other treasure hunters can find it too.
  5. Start another hunt!


  • GPS device
  • map
  • compass
  • water
  • snacks
  • extra batteries
  • friends

While in Washington, DC, for the American Library Association conference, I was able to visit the National Air and Space Museum. I mentioned these facts in an earlier blog post:

Display at National Air & Space Museum
Display at National Air & Space Museum

The exhibit on GPS systems was enlightening… I took photos of some of the banners for my notes.  New technologies like Augmented Reality using camera feeds and GPS to superimpose data and graphics were highlighted. I like traveling and the concept of pointing my phone at a site to then gather information in real-time.

Did you know today there are 30 satellites making up the US GPS system? Did you know the Chinese equivalent to the US’ GPS system will be called Compass and have 12 satellites by 2011, 35 by 2020? The current Navigation System is named Beidou after the Big Dipper’s Chinese name.