Saturday, February 12, 2011

10 Days of Getting Started: Unit Studies

Since the topic of unit studies seems to be a popular request, I will tackle them in this post. I'll try to talk about what unit studies are, why we like them, and maybe a bit about how we implement them. Unit Studies are a great way to teach kids authentically about a topic. You can base them on a book, a concept, a time in history or just about any topic can be an anchor to your overall study. Often we use books, but sometimes we use other ideas as our anchor. One such unit study is one I wrote for Heart of the Matter digital magazine on Catapults and Trebuchets (pp14-16). Often, I can create a whole study just from an interest that sparks my kids. To me, that is one of the great strengths of the unit study- we can follow up on things our kids are really interested in.

There is plenty of unit study curriculum out there. Our favorite is Five in a Row. These are units based on books. The author, Jane Lambert and her daughter Becky have written exquisite lessons based on picture books or chapter books. We've been using Five in a Row as our core program just about from the beginning of our homeschooling adventure. Our older kids use Beyond Five in a Row and we create a lot of our own unit studies. Amanda Bennett has written many long four week long unit studies based on various topics. She's also started the Download and Go series which is designed to be used for a week long study of a topic. My 12 year old is currently doing the Heroes of Invention study which he has enjoyed a lot.

My favorite unit study resource is Unit Studies Made Easy by Valerie Bendt. In fact, I would say this is perhaps my most favorite homeschooling book of all. This is a terrific book to read to find out about how to put your own unit studies together and how to incorporate writing and evaluation into the study as you go. This book is definitely an equipping type of book. I still pull it out to get ideas and Mrs. Bendt keeps things simple and so effective in how to carry out the study.

Unit studies allow our children to work together on a topic- each working at their own level. Sometimes we do separate studies and sometimes we come all together to follow an adventure. Each student has a set of expectations based on his ability and potential. It's very unifying and quite enjoyable!

For now just think about all the books that would be fun to use as a centerpiece for a unit of study or just a topic that your child has shown an interest in. Unit studies take a book or topic and connect it to all the disciplines like language arts, applied math, science, social studies, art, etc. We integrate a lot of our learning typically only adding in reading instruction (for emerging readers) and math. Language arts I teach through our units of study. We build skills using the study as a basis for copywork, narration, and other forms of writing.

Unit studies are inexpensive and can be quite satisfying. They can be elaborate or simple and you can purchase them ready made or simply make one of your own.

Once again, I'm out of blogging time, but I will continue to share how unit studies have worked for us in our homeschool tomorrow.

Thanks for reading over the weekend! This has been a fun series for me so far.

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Be sure to visit these brilliant women in this 10 days adventure between February 7th-18th! We love these ladies and we know you do too.

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk & Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning

2 comments:

Mrs. Querido said...

We have found by trial and error that unit studies are how our family learns best!

Thank you for recommending some good books on how to prepare a unit study. I look forward to ordering it! :)

I can't wait to see what you have planned next!

Blessings!

Kisha said...

I really need to get that book! I've been meaning to for a couple of years now--along with the Peggy Kaye's books that I don't have. I'll have to add it to my list of things to buy for next year.