Next year my son wants to study the world wars. He wants it to be an all encompassing study for history, geography, spelling and what not. I have to admit, I find the idea a bit mind-boggling. I know I can do it, I just struggle with knowing where to start and what to do. I was talking with a fellow homeschool mom and she said “just plan six week unit studies”.
Although I feel overwhelmed by the whole idea yet, partly because I haven’t found the time to adequately start planning and coming up with good work and ideas for the lad, breaking it up into six week segments is doable you know? Or even two week segments.
To that end I thought I’d do some research into unit studies and working with them, to share with you some places to go for free unit studies, and to understand the benefits of using them.
What is a unit study?
A unit study is a collection of learning activities tied to a theme. I used to do them when my lad is younger… we’d study, for instance, George Washington and end up learning math, science, history, geography and then do some art. It was fantastic! It’s a hands-on, filled with rabbit trails way of learning and can work really well. In fact, my son still remembers the Terrific Tigers study that we did.
How do you make a unit study?
Good question! This is where research comes in and talking to your child and knowing what will and will not work for them comes into play. For instance I won’t plan wordsearches as a way to help my lad learn vocabulary since he hates them. You can find some good methodology at All the Homeschool Things has a good plan for doing unit studies as well as Lisa at Canadian Homeschooler has put together a unit study planner. Proverbial Homemaker and All the Homeschool Things have planners as well.
But seriously, how does one make a unit study?
- Decide on a topic or theme. …
- Select a starting date and length of time for the unit. …
- Choose books, DVDs, and other media resources. …
- Plan activities for your children’s ability levels. …
- Decide how you’ll record your unit.
- Plan a final activity.
What subjects can you include and how?
Sometimes you need to think outside the box to include everything you want in a unit study, sometimes you just can’t. Consider your students, what they need to learn and how you can help them connect pieces together. Teach Beside Me gives some hints.
- Math: Create math problems at your child’s level.
- Language Arts: Reading, comprehension, grammar, writing skills. Although you don’t need to include all of this in every unit study that you write, most units do ask students to write a little bit about the topic.
- Science: Sometimes a unit study shines in science. Other times you may need to work a little.
- Social Studies or Geography: Much like science, social studies may be your main topic, or you may need to work some information into the topic at hand. Some questions you may keep in mind as you work: Where was your topic first seen or invented? What culture surrounded the time or event? Where did this take place? What are the residents associated with your topic used to?
- Art: Draw. Build. Act. Design. Create. Make. Sculpt.
- Music: Can be easy or hard to fit into a study. Fit it in if you can.
- History: Can be complicated or easy, depends on the study you are doing.
- Physical Education: This may need some creative work. Like I’m thinking for our world studies to get the lad on an exercise program just like the soldiers would have had to be on. That actually might be good for both of us. 🙂
Look for something that might already be out there.
Seriously, if someone has already done the work, why replicate it? You can always adapt if you need to, for instance, currently we are reviewing Home School in the Woods World War 2 timeline. I want to spend more time exploring what caused the start of world war two than they devoted to it. So when we look at this study again, I can add to it.
Places to look for FREE unit studies.
- Homeschool Share.
Free Unit Studies.
123 Homeschool 4 Me
Homeschool Helper Online
Our Journey Westward
The Homeschool Mom
Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus
It’s a Mother Thing.
Ben and Me.
Gypsy Road School.
FiveJ’s has a nutrition study.
All the homeschool Things Dairy Unit and Early Elementary Unit Study Resources (free to Aug.13)
Homeschool Resource Room
Some paid options would be
- Silverdale Press (my review, and Dawn’s and Lori’s)
- Home School in the Woods. They focus on history.
- Amanda Bennett Unit studies.
- Learning Adventures.
- Tapestry of Grace.
- Cathy Duffy has reviewed quite a few, here’s a list.
- Homeschool Legacy.
- Hide the Chocolate has Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, and Early American History.
- Raising Human Beans has some kindergarten units.
- MN Country Girl has one on the Mississippi River.
- Table Life Blog as a variety of units.
- Katie Homechool Cottage has Middle Ages.
- Techie Homeschool Mama has Vincent Van Gogh.
- Homeschool Mastery Academy has a bunch.
- Christy’s Houseful of Chaos has a superman study.
- How about learning about backyard birds?
- Lisa lists some pros and cons.
I mustn’t forget to tell you about a really cool unit study I’m reviewing right now. The Canadian Homeschoolers Time Capsule of Canadian History. Making Canadian interesting and exciting. Combine on-line learning with hands on fun. Never has Canadian History been so interesting.