Monday, April 23, 2018

5 Days of Unit Studies - Day 1

Unit studies have changed how we do school in our home.  They allow us to explore more topics, dig deeper, and be creative when showing what we have learned.  This week during this 5 day blog hop, I want to share what I have learned about unit studies with you and give you practical tips for using them in your school.
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You may be wondering...what exactly is a unit study?  A unit study is a collection of learning activities tied to a theme.  This theme can be a single book, a book series, a topic, or a broad subject.  Unit studies tend to be more hands on than traditional methods of studying.  They can be tailored to what works for your student and for your family.  There really is no wrong way to create a unit study since you can study a topic at the depth level that works for your student.

Before you go jumping into unit studies, take a few moments and consider these things:
  • What kind of learners are you teaching?  - Unit studies don't work for everyone and that is okay.  If you students prefer a textbook and sticking to a very set plan, then maybe unit studies are not the best route for you.  Do you have kids that love hands-on learning?  They learn a fact about something and want to learn more.  Is your curriculum flexible?  Are you okay with changing and adjusting as need be to make a unit study work?  Unit studies aren't super complicated, but they typically are not just open and use either as there will be things you need to print, resources to find, etc.
  • What subjects are you using a unit study for? - Do you want to study a single topic, a book series, or use it for a single school subject?  Some people use unit studies for certain school subjects like history because unit studies can be easy to put together for those subjects.   Other people use them for their entire day because one unit study can examine multiple subjects.  For example you can use a book series to study history, science, and language arts by learning all about the time period, places, and events in the book for history, studying the animals, plants, and people in the book for science, while doing writing, studying the vocabulary, and diagramming sentences for language arts. Are you planning to use different unrelated unit studies at the same time?  For example you do one study on the planets for science, one study on the U.S.A. for history, and a study on authors for language arts.  
  • Where will you find your unit study? - Unit studies can be created by you or they can be purchased.  They don't have to be difficult to put together on your own once you decide what it is you want to study and how in-depth you want to go.  (We will discuss putting together your own unit study tomorrow.)   But I will also tell you that the Internet is full of great unit studies, some are free and some you have to purchase depending on what you are looking for.  I will be the first to admit that I have used unit studies written by other people and they have been great for my students.  Either way works and you can even buy a unit study and then add stuff to it to make it fit your students.  The options are endless.
  • What resources do you already own or can borrow? - Many times when I think about things I want my kids to learn, I check my bookshelf and find I already have at least one book on the subject.  Other times I hit up my local library to see how many resources they offer on a topic.  After I have requested materials from the library and am there picking them up, I ask the librarian if they know of any other materials that would be great for my student to read through or use for research.  The librarians are always super happy to help and they are great at finding age appropriate materials.  Finally don't forget friends and family.  A couple of years ago my son studied the Civil War.  I was chatting with good friends about what he was researching and they lent us some books on Civil War battles that they had that were wonderful learning tools for my son.  
  • What is your student interested in? - I find that our school year works better when I let my students study things that they are interested in a few times each year.  This doesn't mean we only study fashion and go karts because that is what my students like.  It means that I add studying fashion into our unit studies throughout the year to help keep her interested in it and learning more about it off and on.  Of course fashion could be it own unit study too, but we haven't done that one yet.  As for go karts, we haven't done specific unit studies for that, but we have done research on how engines work, voltage, and the electrical components.  Basically if there is a topic that really interests your student, let them explore it.  That is what unit studies are all about.
Unit studies are a great way to let your child explore a topic and really dig in deep to things they love.  We will continue using them in our school as long as they are working for us.  Some are more detailed than others, but that depends on what I using them for.  Tomorrow I will be discussing how I put together a unit study.
Coming Soon ... 2018 Annual Spring Blog Hop
This week I am participating in the Spring 2018 5 Days of... Blog Hop from the Homeschool Review Crew.  We are all writing about different topics this week and sharing them with you.  We each got to pick our own topic so I can't tell you how excited I am to read what everyone is blogging about this week.  Click the links below or the banner above this paragraph to Hop on over to the next blog and read what they have for you, I know I will definitely be hopping to my friends' blogs to see what they wrote.

4 comments:

  1. maybe I should get you to put one together for me on the Great Wars? :) That's what my boy wants to learn about next year...that and coding.

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    1. Those are great topics for a unit study. You could study the battles, events that led up to the wars, key figures from the wars, weapons, and so much more. For coding...I can't rattle so many topics off my head for that one because I don't know much about it, but I know coding can be pretty detailed so it would be great for a unit study.

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  2. Great ideas...I love putting together material for unit studies.

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  3. Unit studies are fantastic. We enjoy them and it is how one of my girls prefers to do her science and history. She has basically created her own studies this year for those two subjects. She has learned quite a bit, too. I am looking forward to the rest of your series.

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