Unit studies are an all-encompassing, focused approach that uses resources from all areas of a curriculum whenever possible, and provides an in-depth learning experience. Often these studies start with a core resource book, then dig into extras, involve hands-on activities where possible, and expand through many subjects such as math, language, history, geography, etc.
A unit study approach involves creating a series of activities and learning experiences that all point back to a single generalized topic. For example, a study on weather could include:
- creating weather instruments
- a field trip to a local weather station
- watching documentaries on storm chasers
- reading a historical fiction book about a weather-related event (like Day of the Cyclone)
- detailed journalling of weather records for each day
- comparing findings to the weather predictions
- comparing historical weather data to current details
- figuring out how to convert temperature from Fahrenheit to Celcius
- doing an experiment that explains the water cycle
- doing an experiment to create a cloud
- painting a picture of what their favourite weather looks like
- examining different weather patterns and learning how to predict the weather with clues
- doing a craft that shows the different kinds of clouds
- watching the weather channel to follow the weather-related news
- volunteering to do post-storm cleanup
- playing games on the computer
The idea is to dive right into a topic and explore in as much detail as possible.
Many people enjoy using unit studies specifically for history and science. In this kind of study, the goal isn’t to include all subjects but to focus more closely on a single subject.
Want to see an example of what a day in the life of a unit study family is like?
Unit Study Benefits
- Great for families with multiple ages because everyone can be learning the same thing, while adapting activities to various levels
- It can focus on the interests of a child, making it more child-led
- A wide selection of activities allows for different learning styles
- Particularly great for hands-on learners
- They can be pretty cost-efficient, because you don’t have to buy curriculum but can use a variety of resources
- Often can create long-term, positive memories of learning in your child
- Many unit study lessons can be downloaded online and printed out instead of needing large books
Unit Study Disadvantages
- Can be a lot of planning and prep work for the parent
- It has the potential to be quite messy from the hands-on activities
- If your family has different age ranges, older children can feel like they are being held back in group learning times
- Might need to supplement unit study with additional content for other subjects like math
- Creating Unit Studies (+ a planner)
Where to Buy Unit Studies in Canada
These links generally offer individual unit studies as opposed to a full unit study style curriculum.
Unit Study Blogs
- Eclectic Homeschool: Free Unit Studies
- Discover Unit Studies Blog
- Gypsy Road Schooling: Unit Studies
Wondering about other homeschooling methods? Follow along in this 10-day series.