I believe the best part of homeschooling is the flexibility. For the most part – you can school when you want, how you want, where you want, and what you wan. Each day is a new adventure! Especially so when we create our own unit studies.
In my home it all begins with one question, “What do you want to learn about now“? I give my son a few days to think about our next science or geography unit study. He picks a topic – most times it’s been animals – bugs, wolves, alligators and other times more broad: planets, knights, oceans to our most recent unit study on flight and evolution of airplanes.
A few points to consider when creating unit studies to keep them interesting:
Once we decide what we’re going to learn about – I decide how long the unit study will take. Some have taken one week because there is nothing more I can offer about honeybees. Others have taken two weeks, but due to my son’s attention span … we have never stretched a unit study beyond three weeks.
I live at the library! Every time we go – we stock up! I check out every single book I can find on that one topic. Then we look for movies (National Geographic or Animal Atlas) . Once home I check out a few websites like Homeschool Share, Enchanted Learning, and ABC Teach for any free printables.
As we read through our stack of books I write down the vocabulary words he does not know and encourage him to look them up in his (age appropriate) dictionary. Later in the week he will write sentences using these words. (I try to pick 10-15 words for the whole unit study).
Geography & Science
Whenever there are locations mentioned – we check those out spending a day studying the globe. I print out a few black and white maps to label the appropriate hemisphere, continent, country, biome, etc. We discuss language, culture, time zones, and weather. If we started with a geographic region – then we discuss the animals, habitats, etc. living there.
When we see historical names – we also pull more resource books and read a few junior biographies. (my son loves the Animated Hero Classics dvds by Nest Learning). If there is a time “period” mentioned we check out a few more books.
After we’ve exhausted those resources I try to incorporate chapter books – currently his reading level includes Magic Tree House (the Teacher Guides are fantastic so do not forget them), and A-Z Mysteries.
We pick up a few craft or art project books. Most times we try to incorporate Legos or play dough for my tactile learner! Our recent flight unit study my son put together a model airplane purchased at Michaels. During our Ancient Greece unit study we cut apart a Huggies diaper box, painted it white, and drew Corinthian columns for a Greek temple. Projects do not have to be award winning as long as they are educational and fun.
After all the “paper work” we throw in a field trip for some out of the house fun!
TIPS - Be sure to document all book & DVD titles, snap photos of art work or crafts to put in your folder – print out your resource list, staple it to your vocabulary sheet or slide into a folder with the completed printables, and you’ve created your 1st unit study!
Learning is so much fun and we have the ability to guide our children in the direction of their interests. You do not have to work for a curriculum company to create a unit study. We can customize lessons according to our children’s learning styles and most of all … have fun learning together!
Stef is the wife of Thad and mom to two energetic superheroes! Stef is the author of Layton Family Joy and co-founder of The Homeschool Village.