Overview: Having a hard time finding a unit study for a particular topic? Why not make your own? It’s EASY and FUN! Let me show you how.
The entire world has been turned upside down in the past few weeks. We’re all dealing with lots of uncertainty and sitting down to go through the same old lessons just doesn’t seem to cut it. We’re all feeling a bit of cabin fever and many of us are asking ourselves what we can do to add some spark to our days.
The kids DO need to be taught lessons. But who says we need to continue teaching them the same things or in the same way that we’ve been teaching all year long? A great way to bust out of a rut is to shake up our homeschool lessons and a fun way to do that is to plan a unit study.
Unit studies are basically when we take one topic and form all of our learning around it. For instance, if your child is interested in horses, you can plan a unit study about horses. If your child is passionate about the Civil War, you can plan a unit study about that. During presidential election years, you might want to try a unit study about presidents. And right now, it would be extremely appropriate to study the Spanish Flu Pandemic or viruses or the human immune system. The sky is really the limit on this one.
Planning a Unit Study
So, how do you plan a unit study? It’s actually quite simple:
1 – Choose a topic – The best way to do this is to talk to your kids about what they’d be interested in studying. You’ll have the most successful learning if you’re able to help your kids learn about something they’re passionate about.
2 – Choose books – Search for some good books to read about your topic. Be sure to look at both fiction and non-fiction selections. Also, try to find books that your kids can read as well as some that you can read aloud to them. And don’t forget to look for audiobooks and/or audio dramas about your subject.
3 – Choose movies – Look for some movies, YouTube videos, documentaries, etc that also tie into your subject. This is an especially important step if your children are visual learners.
4 – Choose activities – List the various school subjects you would like to cover with your unit study. Then, come up with a variety of activities for your kids to complete. Try to come up with lessons that will use all of their senses and as many learning styles as possible. You want to help your child experience many different aspects of the topic you have chosen.
5 – Choose field trips – Look for field trips which would help to drive home the lessons you are trying to teach.
Can I See An Example of Creating an Actual Unit Study?
If you choose to create a unit study about World War II, you could do the following:
- Books – Read a variety of books such as The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel, and Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti.
- Movies – There are lots of movies on this subject. You may want to pre-watch them to be sure they are appropriate for your children. Some good ones to consider are The Diary of Anne Frank, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and Sergeant York.
- Activities – There are many aspects of World War 2 that your kids can study. You can talk about the aircraft, the battles, the length of time it took for America to enter the war, the Holocaust, rationing food, women entering the factories, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the president, the role their state played in the war, and much much more. You can have your kids do things such as the following:
- Listen to music that was popular during this time
- Plant a victory garden
- Draw pictures of a battle – or of their favorite aircraft during that time period
- Build a historically accurate model airplane
- Solve some appropriate real-world math problems
- Learn popular dances for the time period
- Write papers about what they’re learning
- Study the clothing
- Field Trips – Look for nearby museums or traveling collections that delve into World War 2. Consider touring a factory that was open during that time period. Tour a military base or an air museum. Take your kids to a war memorial.
It can take a bit of time to develop unit studies on your own. If you want to include lots of hands-on activities for your kids, it might be easier (and save you a lot of time) to purchase a unit study that is ready to use. If your kids are interested in learning about knights and princesses, consider checking out my Time Capsule: Medieval England unit study.
If you’re finding your kids are having a hard time focusing on their studies, consider spending a few weeks on a unit study. You may find this to be just the thing you need to inject a bit of excitement for learning back into your homeschool! And remember that kids who are engaged in their lessons are much more likely to remember what you are trying to teach them.
Question: Are you or your kids going through the doldrums of learning? Have you ever tried using a unit study? Please leave a comment below.
Originally written for True Aim Education. Reprinted with permission.