Regardless of what methodology you typically use for your homeschooling, unit studies can sometimes give you a nice break from the norm. They’re especially nice when you want to get your child/children to think more about how the different parts of life actually fit together, and they can also give you a break when you’re facing the doldrums.
So how do you decide which subjects to pursue when you’re ready to complete a unit study? Well, look at your child and find out what they are really interested in. These are the themes you should pursue with your unit studies. Another way to decide what would make a great unit study is to look through your year’s studies and see if there are any “holes” in the subject that you think should be filled. Once you find that “hole,” you can find a lesson on that topic and set aside a week or two to teach it. For example, if your child finds black holes fascinating, but your science textbook only covers them in a paragraph or two, then there’s a perfect opportunity to do a unit study of astronomy.
Once you’ve figured out what you want to do a unit study about, all it takes is a little more time and creativity, and you’re ready to create your own unit studies. Building your own curriculum around a topic sounds difficult, but if it weren’t, educational companies like Teacher Created Materials wouldn’t be publishing and selling as many great lessons as they do.
There are 2 main disadvantages to designing your own unit studies. First of all, it takes time. If you’re a busy parent, this might be reason enough to head to the nearest teacher’s supply store with your credit card in hand. Second, it may be necessary to have access to some grade level textbooks (such as science, language arts, or math) so that you know what skills are typically covered in a particular grade level. If you have a good library with a textbook department, then you might also have the perfect excuse to spend a long Saturday with a pocket full of loose change at the library with a stack of books. Another idea is that if you have good internet research skills, you can spend your Saturday at home.
Now that we see the disadvantages, what are the advantages of a unit study? You can teach anything your heart desires. Additionally, if you decide to create your own study unit, you will find that it is cheaper and more economical than tracking down a pre-made study unit. Also, no one knows your child as well as you do, and therefore no one can prepare a unit study for your child as well as you.
If you are creating your own unit study, you need to keep in mind that your unit study must cover all of the subjects that you would normally teach, unless you plan to skip a specific subject and continue with your regular curriculum on that subject. However, to create a full unit study, you must include the first 2 subjects from the list below, and as many other subjects as you can logically include there as well. Now for the list:
(1.) Math – You must create math problems at your child’s level. For example, if you are working with a young child on a one-unit study of baseball, you can practice adding with bats and balls, write a problem story about the number of pitches thrown before the team reaches the final, etc. Older children however, would need something more on their level. For example, you can discuss the speed of the bat, the distance the ball travels, or the number of hot dogs individual team fans eat.
(2.) Language Arts – This area includes reading, comprehension, grammar and writing skills. While you don’t have to include each of these points in every unit study you write, you should have your child write something about the topic. A good suggestion would be to have your child read a book on the subject and then write a narrative about what they read in the book.
(3.) Science – Sometimes a unit study is just fine for science, but sometimes you need to put in a little more effort. For example, a unit study about errors will let you go because the entire unit study is about science. However, if you are conducting a unitary study of ancient Egypt, you may need to take some time to look at the creations of Egyptian engineers, study mummification, reflect on ancient medicine, or consider the tools the Egyptians used to do their work .
(4.) Social Studies or Geography – This may be your main subject, but if it is not, you will need to incorporate some information into your subject. Some questions that can help you with this are: Where was your subject first seen or invented? What culture surrounded the time or event? Where did this happen? You might also want to learn more about the people of that time and place.
(5.) Art – Take the time to draw, build, trade, create, or design. You could design a Roman mosaic, sketch an insect’s genome, build a temple out of clay or LEGOs, create a tapestry to illustrate the entity you are studying (felt shapes are useful for quick tapestries when needling takes far too long) , or paint the flowers you are learning about.
(6.) Music – Sometimes music fits well into a lesson. For example, you could always listen to some folk music while exploring the civil unrest of the 1960s. However, if you’re studying something more academic, you might have to work a little harder to incorporate music into this lesson.
(7.) Story – Adding the story to a unit study should be relatively easy, regardless of the topic. You could simply research when an event began or an item was invented, or you could talk about the events and times that influenced an item’s inventor.
(8.) Physical Education – Again, you might need to be a little creative here. However, if you find that physical education classes fit into your unity, you should definitely take advantage of them! For example, if you study the ancient Greeks, you could run footraces like them.
If you’re still not sure what to do for your very first learning session, try “following” your child(ren) for a few days and see what they’re doing. For example, if your child spends all his time absorbed in books, then consider a literature-based unit study (ie, how books are made). On the other hand, your child may spend their time outside digging for rocks. Then why not study an archeology or rocks and minerals unit?
Of course, there are some themes that you can use more than once as your child(ren) grows older. These include:
(1.) Animals, horses or mammals
(2.) Baseball, basketball, fencing, or sports in general
(3.) Cooking or catering (including business and economic information)
(8.) Historical cultures (e.g. medieval history, ancient Egypt etc.)
The spark of a unity study is ignited whenever your child(ren) mentions an interest. Whenever they do, you have to write it down somewhere. Keep a list of interests and you’ll soon have more than you know what to do with. But even if your child is only interested in one or two topics, you should take the time to explore them. You may find that you can create multiple unit studies based on the first as new interests are developed.
Thanks to Brenda Hoffman | #Write #Homeschool #Unit #Study