Finding the right resources and activities doesn't have to be an overwhelming task, it just requires a little bit of planning ahead. Once you know what subjects and topics you want to cover for your unit studies, it is time to start finding resources. I start by looking at my bookshelves to see what we already have before I begin looking elsewhere. Sometimes we can use some of the books we have and other times they don't give enough information to be a good resource. Next I pull up my local library's website. I can research a lot of books, movies, and magazines from the comfort of my own home. I can reserve resources that I think fit our study and pick them up when the library gets them all ready. Then once I pick these up, I can glance and read through them to make sure they are appropriate for our school and give the information needed for the goals I set for our study. When I am picking up my library books, I ask the librarian for any other suggestions. They are always very eager to help. Another place to check are the Amazon Kindle books. They have many free titles on their site and you don't have to have a Kindle to read them, they have an app you can download to your computer and still read the books. Next up (and many times this happens while I am waiting for the library to get all my "holds" around) is scouring the Internet for resources. This includes looking at unit studies that you can purchase. Sometimes I decide they are what I want to use and purchase them, other times I use them to get an idea of the learning goals they include. There are also tons and tons and tons of great websites full of information out there. When I find one that works for our study, I either write it down or bookmark it so I can find it when I need it again for my students. I also check Netflix and Prime Video for any documentaries that might work for research for our studies. Sometimes these are a fun change of pace for school. Lastly I check with friends to see if they have any books or other resources that might go with our studies. I keep a list of all the resources that I compile for a unit study in a notebook that I used for planning. This way I don't lose all of my valuable research.
Now that you know how I search for resources we use for our studies, let's chat about adding in activities to go with them. You don't have to add in activities, but they do tend to make the research in a study more fun and help to break up the monotony of day to day work. Once we know what our unit study is about, I figure out what would work best for activities. If it s a book or book series we are studying, we will make recipes from the book or time period, we do crafts that the characters might have made,we try foods they ate, and so on. If it is a subject or topic we will do experiments that fit, write a newspaper about it, or write a speech. We have also went on field trips to explore more about topics and visited cities near us that pertain to the topic, subject, or book. The type, amount, and extent of the activities are really up to you and what fits in your study. Basically it comes down to this...do what works for you and your students. Some unit studies won't have many activities due to the time period you want to complete it in or maybe due to what you are studying and others may have a lot. That is okay. It is part of being flexible with a unit study. Tomorrow I will be back to tell you more about how you can put together your unit studies.