Welcome with me Yvie to my blog today! She’ll be talking about How to create a unit study for your homeschool.
Unit studies provide an in-depth (and often hands-on) approach to learning about any topic your students are interested in, providing individualized instruction and instilling a love of learning!
It may seem overwhelming at first, but creating a unit study is easier than you think! There are just five simple steps to creating a unit study…
What Will You Study?
What is your child interested in? Unit studies are an excellent schooling method for child-led families! To begin, choose one of your child’s interests (e.g., dinosaurs, princesses, Minecraft) and create studies around it. These might include science, history, geography, math, writing, literature, or life skills…anything relating to the topic!
If you want to do regular unit studies, keep a running list of ideas to pull from, and try to plan a couple of weeks in advance. This will give you time to gather the needed materials. Elementary and middle schoolers are going to have more leeway with unit studies, while high schoolers will need more stringent activities to keep up with graduation requirements.
How Much Time Will You Devote To This Unit?
A unit study planner is a must! This one covers a full year, with room for five in-depth units, one per season plus two in the summer. This is a good pace for unit studies if you are using them to complement the regular curriculum. If your entire curriculum is unit studies, you’re going to want to do a couple each month.
Deciding which route to take depends on your schooling style. If you prefer a regular curriculum, but want to incorporate Fun Fridays, you’ll want the relaxed pace. If you prefer a child-led, or interested-based, school, then the more aggressive approach to unit studies will be a better fit.
Either way, the Unit Study Planner is a good place to get organized with the first few units you cobble together. It includes pages for monthly, weekly, and daily unit study plans – this way you can choose the schedule which works best for you! Once you’ve got a few units under your belt, you’ll discover which groove works best for your family!
What Activities Do You Want To Do?
Are you a bookish family? Do you tend toward the outdoors? Prefer to learn through video? Choose something that is the base for your unit….your ‘spine,’ if you will. If you’re a travelling family, you might have location or event-based studies, such as the Boston Tea Party, NASA Space Center, or the Gettysburg Address.
No matter what you choose, you’ll want to include a few basic components:
Books – Visit the library and find a selection of fiction and non-fiction books related to the topic. Bonus points for learning to use the card catalog!
Videos – There’s nothing like visual representation of more difficult concepts, so scout DVDs and YouTube for related videos.
Field Trips – A day trip to the zoo or science museum, or even a longer overnight trip to a big attraction…all of these fit the bill.
Hands-on Activities – No one likes sitting at a desk all day, so get up and make something! This might include STEM kits, cooking projects, or art projects.
Schedule or Fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants?
For my personality, there’s no question here…being Type A, I’m always going to answer ‘schedule.’ But maybe you prefer to wing it. That’s ok…that’s the beauty of homeschooling! You get to tailor things to your family.
Whatever your method, you’re going to need to plan at least a little bit…if for no other reason than to have the necessary items to complete your unit. You’ll need to know what ingredients / materials are needed for hands-on projects, and also what resources (books, dvds, etc) are needed for the research and informational portion of the unit study.
You’ll probably want to know ahead of time where the museum is and when it’s open…though you might just get in the car and decide to impulsively visit. It happens. Choose which method works best for you, and your family, and roll with it.
Are You Keeping Track?
Record-keeping doesn’t have to be difficult, especially with elementary and middle school students. The creation of a lapbook or notebook adequately shows what they have learned. With upper grades students, a portfolio that includes books read, photographs of hands-on activities, and research projects will document the unit.
Need Some Help Getting Started?
Homeschool On the Range has several pre-made unit study bundles in their Cottage Shoppe! These are literature-based units that cover vocabulary, critical thinking, history, geography, and learning through hands-on activities. Use coupon code NOVELSTUDY50 to snag your bundle at 50% off through March 31st, 2021!
Yvie is a veteran homeschooling mom and the high school counselor for The Homeschool House, a non-profit organization. She helps to create unit studies and enjoys helping other families on their homeschool journey. When not teaching or counseling, she enjoys reading, spending time in her garden, and traveling the country with her boys. You can find her at Homeschool On the Range, on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.