Homeschool Methods: Unit Studies

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.

Homeschool Methods: Unit Studies
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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
  • etc.

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

Examples of Unit Studies Curriculum

Recommended Resources

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

Wondering about other homeschooling methods? Follow along in this 10-day series.

6 thoughts on “Homeschool Methods: Unit Studies”

  1. Amy @ Orison Orchards

    Unit Studies are my very favorite method of homeschooling every subject but math, because I homeschool all 8 of my kids and it’s the best way to keep them all involved at the same time. I tend to teach at the level of my older kids, and my younger kids constantly astound me with what they pick up!

  2. Jennifer Schulz

    I’ve found this series very helpful! I’ve been homeschooling for three years and never knew where I fit in. This has really helped me to see what our style is and has ruled out the other methods. I like that I’m able to get to the right resources right away! I’ll be referring this series to others 😀

  3. Next week we will start a month long unit study on the Babysitter Club series. I will get the kids to do portraits of each main character in their weekly art lesson and also write a book report on the series too for English. Another activity I want to do is find out about what homes in America looked like during that time period. I also wish to research religion too.
    That would be a great activity to use for history class. If you can think of any other learning activities that are loosely based on the novels for geography and so on, please tell me. The kids and I have a couple of the early books somewhere in a cardboard box. I will start reading the first book on Monday morning and have the kids make brief notes in the English lesson as well. Thanks in advance.

    1. That sounds fun. I haven’t read the Babysitter Club series in so long! I remember as a teen being inspired by those books and making myself a babysitting kit that I took with me for fun with the kids. They loved seeing what I’d bring every time. I forget how much detail they added to the stories about the town they lived in, but maybe there’s a way to map out the town? Honestly though, it sounds like you have a good chunk of ideas already and probably don’t even need to add geography. 🙂

      Have fun!

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