Experience tell us that the most important educational lesson we can teach early learners is to fall in love with learning itself. ~ Steve Lambert
Unit studies are a popular homeschooling method because they can be hands-on, literature-based, or even geared towards the Charlotte Mason method. Unit Studies typically encompass all of the scholastic subjects through the study of one topic (Weaver units or KONOS character units, for example), although they can be specific to a specific subject (like Evan-Moor science units or Teacher Created Materials units). Since it is easier to teach different ages the same topics with multi-level unit studies, they are popular among homeschoolers wanting to keep all of their children on similar topics at the same time.
Insight into using Unit Studies:
The Weaver uses the Bible as the spring-board for history, science, creative writing and many other projects. As we began to systematically work through the Bible I realized that my goal was being accomplished. My children were exposed to the profound truths of the Bible and loving it. Our Bible times do not focus on facts but on the application of the Word. In Ruth 3 we discussed the importance of choosing a mate who was not only a Christian but one who displayed the character of Christ as Boaz and Ruth both did. The ...
Unit studies, sometimes called thematic units or integrated studies, are very popular with homeschoolers. Unit studies usually use a hands-on approach for effective learning. The child learns by actually experiencing or discovering through different methods and activities, rather than just reading a chapter from a textbook. Studies show that children using unit-study methods retain 45% more than those using a traditional approach.
Some people just aren’t textbook people! What do you do if your homeschooler learns by living, instead of studying textbooks? What if your child soaks up knowledge like a sponge, without being directed in any way? Can you still create a serious-looking high school transcript?
The Homeschool Calendar: New homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers frequently wonder about whether the “homeschool year” follows or needs to follow the traditional calendar used by most public and private schools in the United States. Long-term homeschoolers frequently find their answer to that question changes as their children get older. Casual observers of homeschooling might think “of course” homeschooling has to follow a school calendar in order to be legitimate and sufficient.
Lapbooks are paper manipulatives using file folders in which the student stores creative summaries of their work. The concept is similar to notebooking and some notebooking resources can be used in lapbooks, but the concepts do differ. Lapbooks are more than just notebooks with collections of worksheets, they are diagrams, minute books, and other paper manipulatives customized to emphasize the subject of the lapbook.
Notebooking and lapbooking are closely related. Notebooking is a bit simpler, with the information inserted into simple 3-ring binders instead of put into the more elaborate lapbooks. Notebooks are put together using maps, lab reports, scrapbook pages, worksheet pages, drawings, essays, timelines, and any other relevant work that your child creates.
Timelines offer students the ability to visually process overlapping and chronological events in history, relating them in a way that is more difficult to perceive through reading. Timelines in the homeschool are a valuable tool to relate subjects together and view historical events as interrelated.
Helpful resources for unit studies, free unit downloads, resources for books in Five in a Row, and more
Our page for users of FIAR has links to resource pages on THSM divided by volume and book. Each page has links to author and illustrator pages (where available), topics covered, and resources related to the book topics.
Our KONOS page has links to resource pages on THSM divided by character trait and unit.
Everyone has a comment on the increasing popularity of homeschooling. When I talk to people about homeschooling, they frequently mention the availability of “so much curriculum these days,” as if that is the single most important factor in being able to homeschool. Non-homeschoolers, prospective homeschoolers, and new homeschoolers seem surprised that many homeschoolers use learning materials that are not, strictly speaking, part of a homeschool curriculum. There are many reasons why people use other learning resources instead of curriculum.
Just over a year ago, our home and many of our rural neighbors’ homes were damaged by Hurricane Sandy, which severely (and somewhat anonymously) affected a narrow swath of property in the mountains of Virginia before making its way as Superstorm Sandy to a much better publicized hit on northern coastal towns. While my son was unlikely to have been alone in such a situation (it was long predicted to be a serious storm for our immediate area), he was interested in our preparedness and response to the storm. After a harrowing night spent in our basement without power as the storm’s wind shook us and the rains ...
Many experienced homeschoolers have long valued the ability to delay formal academics to create a more holistic early childhood education for their young children, with the understanding that this creates a rich foundation for later academic and life success. Today, parents new to homeschooling are embarking on homeschooling at a time when public schools are emphasizing early formal academics and implementing standardized testing of very young children, despite lack of evidence that these practices enhance educational outcomes for the children. As David Elkind (author of The Hurried Child and The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally) writes in “Much Too ...
This year in my role as a homeschool evaluator, I met a number of tweens and teens who are interested in fashion. As we went through their portfolio of work and talked about their year, I was fascinated with the ways they had woven their interest in fashion with their academic studies. Two of the teens I met with had taken their interest in current fashion into the past — studying the typical dress and accessorizing of women and men in earlier periods of history. They also took their fashion interest international — studying the current typical dress of modern-day ...
Winter is a wonderful time to take Alphabet Walks with your children. In my part of the U.S., this means bundling up for the cold weather, but hunting for the ABCs in nature may be just the thing to get you and the kids moving on darker winter days. The main object of an Alphabet Walk is to find letters that have been unintentionally formed in the outdoors. Perhaps crossing tree branches form an X against the blue sky, or a cat curved on your deck forms a perfect C. A front door wreath on your neighbor’s house is an O. ...
Hosting an international exchange student can be a great experience for homeschooling families. We hosted a student from Ecuador, and while the commitment can seem daunting, having Isaac José with us for a school year enriched our lives. What are some of the benefits of hosting an international student?
What do you get when your child combines a unit study and notebooking with a blog? You get the homeschool version of a Virtual Learning Environment (a fancy way of saying learning that is enhanced by the Internet). Homeschooling parents can use what they already know about unit studies and notebooking to have their children create their own unit study blogs on specific topics — their own VLE’s.
Where can you find over 100 free high quality unit studies? Boy Scouts! The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) program offers great merit badge materials to its Scouts, which my older sons used on their way to achieving their Eagle Scout ranks. Completing merit badge requirements was often a great addition to their study of science, history, culture, government, business, and technology, and they also learned some great life skills for staying fit and healthy, managing money, and dealing with emergencies.
Your dog, cat, bird, fish, ferret, hamster, or lizard may be a unit study waiting to happen. Many children are fascinated by domestic animals, and their strong interest will motivate them to read, write, solve problems, and create projects. Here are some ideas for developing a unit study around our pets.
From amazon.com Valerie’s popular book How to Create Your Own Unit Study is back! This updated, expanded version includes all four of Valerie s previously published unit study books in one big volume: How to Create Your Own Unit Study, The Unit Study Idea Book, For the Love of Reading, and Success with Unit Studies. Read more at amazon.com
From amazon.com A do-it-yourself guide for putting together your own unit studies based on your goals and interests. Valerie Bendt defines unit studies, tells how they can be approached, instructs on keeping records, and talks about goal setting. Other topics include using the library, finishing projects, determining your educational philosophy and more. Sample units are presented. Read more at amazon.com Valerie also wrote Unit Study Idea Book .
This is a helpful reference resource for homeschoolers using unit studies since it covers what is typically taught by grade and subject. From amazon.com Finally, homeschoolers have a comprehensive guide to designing a homeschool curriculum, from one of the country’s foremost homeschooling experts. Rebecca Rupp presents a structured plan to ensure that your children will learn what they need to know when they need to know it, from preschool through high school. Read more at amazon.com
Unit study resources from other websites:
Guest article about unit studies by Valerie Bendt on Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
From Oklahoma Homeschool, this page includes links to lots of helpful information (like multi-level teaching, timelines, and more) and several unit studies
“Unit studies are collections of learning activities tied to a theme. They are popular with many homeschooling families because they provide a hands-on approach to learning that incorporates subjects such as math, science, language arts, and the social sciences. The great advantages of unit studies are that they can be tied into a child’s interest and that the entire family can learn about a subject together.”
Homeschool Helper Online has currently free units available through the site, each of which has corresponding worksheets and library lists. They also offer lapbooking and notebooking resources.