One approach to learning is to use unit studies. This all-encompassing, focused study uses resources from all areas of a curriculum whenever possible, and provides an in-depth learning experience.
Often these studies start with a main resource book, dig into extras, involve hands-on where possible, and expand through many subjects such as math, language, history, geography, etc. Usually, this method involves getting very comfortable with your local library, your computer, and the related resources that might be available in your local community. Popular ways to showcase what you’ve learned are through compiled presentation methods such as lapbooks, notebooks, or scrapbooks – but more technological options such as videos and blogging are starting to pop up too.
If this is the way you want to teach your kids, how can you get started learning like this?
Option 1: Find or buy pre-made / pre-prepared unit studies.
One of the wonderful thing about our world today is that you can find just about anything you want online. There are quite a few terrific unit study resources available out there – on just about any topic!
Here are some sites to check out (*This list contains affiliate links.)
Option 2: Create Your Own.
Making your own unit studies can be a lot of fun, and mean that you can tailor fit them to your child’s favourite subjects and interests.
The first step is to pick the subject and then develop a plan around it – using whatever resources you have available to help. If you have a look for books, videos, websites, field trips you can take, resources in the community, people you can have as guests or visitors to teach, crafts and/or hands-on projects to do, etc. etc. The goal is to saturate your child’s learning experience with a fun, creative, and educational focus on the topic of choice.
How to Create Your Own Unit Studies
- Pick a topic to study and figure out how long you want to study it for.
- Using resources like the table of contents of textbooks or the navigation headers of websites that are on the topic you want to study, break down your study into subtopics. For example, if you are studying Ancient Egypt, you might break it down into topics like:
- Geography of Egypt
- Historical periods (Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom)
- Next, collect a selection of ideas to help study this topic. Check websites like Pinterest for printables, hands-on activities, and crafts etc. Check your local library for books and movies you can borrow. Sort through YouTube to find videos. Look for sites that have interactive games or challenges. If relevant, shop for food or models or other things that will augment your learning. For example, if you are learning about the countries of the world, you might want to get some international food. Or get some dino skeleton toys if you are studying dinosaurs. Search your community for field trip opportunities or people you can learn from. Think outside the box.
- When you have a list of all sorts of resources and ideas – separate them out into their subtopics and fill in your time frame. If you have a lot of things for one subtopic, or that subtopic has a lot of information to learn – you will probably want to spend more time on it. Sort your resources into what you think you can reasonably accomplish in a day and/or how long you want to study it for. Write it down and make a plan of action. If you are particularly interested in being organized, you can create a tote file system where you put in everything you need (and a list of things you need to prep before you start for the day) for each day of your study.
- Get learning. 😀
Need more help? I did a session all about how to create your own unit studies during the 2017 Canadian Online Homeschool Conference. During this session, I walked through how I create unit studies for my kids. You can purchase a pass to the conference which includes this talk + 24 more at http://canadianhomeschoolconference.com
If you are looking for some help to create your own unit studies, please feel free to download this printable.
Included are worksheets for:
- Overall plans
- Breaking the unit into subtopics
- Connecting the topic to other subjects
- Worksheets for books, videos, websites, printables, field trips, guest speakers
- Planner for crafts and hands-on activities
- Daily Plan outlines for your unit
- Extra planning pages