We’re getting to that time of year when the days feel long and the homeschool lessons feel even longer. Either the winter weather is still upon us or the spring rains have started. Either way, the sun is hiding behind the clouds too frequently and many of us are feeling a bit of cabin fever.
It’s not uncommon during the doldrums of March for homeschool moms start to ask themselves,”Will I be able to stick with this until summer?!?!?”
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. Since this is an election year, you might want to try a unit study about presidents. 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:
- 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.
- 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 audio books and/or audio dramas about your subject.
- Choose movies – Look for some movies, YouTube videos, documentaries, etc that also tie in to your subject. This is an especially important step if your children are visual learners.
- 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 multiple learning styles as possible. You want to help your child experience many different aspects of the topic you have chosen.
- Choose field trips – Look for field trips which would help to drive home the lessons you are trying to teach.
For example, 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 and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
- 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 which 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. Homeschool in the Woods is another great resource for hands-on unit studies.
If you’re finding your kids are having a hard time focusing on their studies, consider spending a week or two 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.
Are you or your kids going through the doldrums of learning? Have you ever tried planning a unit study? Please leave a comment below.