If there is a particular topic that your kid(s) are really interested in but either you can’t find a ready-made curriculum that you love, you want to save money, or you just want to make your own it is really easy to turn any topic into a unit study. Trust me, mom, it’s easier and more fun than you think. Whether your child is into butterflies, robotics, Laura Ingalls Wilder, or LEGO you can easily make an entire unit study lasting a week, a month, or longer. Check out my tips below for how to expand a topic to cover all areas of study!
What I really love about unit studies is that you and your child can completely submerge yourself in a topic of interest. Isn’t that one of the best parts of homeschooling? Being able to spend as long as you want with what interests you?
Decide your topic- The most important part right? You can, of course, choose something that you want or need your child to study like space, Little House on the Prairie, animal classification, or cooking. You could also let them pick their own topic, even if it's dinosaurs, LEGO's, or snakes- there is much to be learned!
Make some goals- What do you hope your child get's out of the study? A complete and total understanding with mastery in all areas or do you just want a fun light study to introduce your child to a new interest? This will determine how in depth you take it, how long you stay on it, and what activities you will include.
Ask your child for input– Let your child have some control over what they are learning, even if they didn't pick it and you can bet they will be more vested, interested, and eager to learn. They may have fantastic ideas for activities, field trips, and other things to flesh out the topic study that you might not have thought of.
Grab all the books you can– We visit our bookshelf first, if it's a big topic of interest then chances are that we already have at least a half dozen books on the subject. Next, we take a trip to the library and get a bunch(we pre-order books through our online library, then pick them up). If we are going to spend awhile on a topic or it's something we already know we love we will add a book or two from the bookstore or Amazon.
Online research- Do your own research on the topic to gather ideas and resources. PINTEREST- how did we ever homeschool without it? Check out How to use Pinterest to Homeschool. You will likely also find websites to fit your theme with a quick Google search as well.
Gather up everything- I keep several big storage totes to store supplies for upcoming studies as I pick them up. Books, printables I found and printed out, games, info on field trips, science tools, etc. Having a catch-all place for everything motivates me to gather great stuff and fill it up.
Plan or not plan- I am not going to tell you to plan it all out because most of our best studies have been when we chose a topic and followed wherever it led. If you are a planner and it suits your learner then, by all means, work out a plan that gives you an outline of what you will do each day,etc… If not just gather a bunch of stuff that works with your unit study theme and let your child lead while you follow and offer support when needed. You may spend a whole day in math and another studying the ants in the grass-it's okay!
What should you include in a DIY unit study?
- Lots of hands on activities- The more hands on you make your unit study they more your child can enjoy it and then they will retain much more.
- Field Trips- Try to find field trips in your area that support your study. Stars? Go to the planetarium. Animal classification? The Zoo. Marine Biology? Beach day! 10 Virtual Field Trips for Homeschoolers
- Outdoor Time- Get outdoors for fresh air and exercise whether it goes along with your topic or not, healthy minds process and learn better!
- Book reports- If it applies, a simple or even thorough report is another option for your study.
- Lapbooks- These are such a fun way to create a keepsake on your unit study and you can make them your own.
- Reading-read alouds and independently
- recipes- for the country you are studying, to observe reactions for science, to recreate an animal with food, the possibilities for working this in are endless!
- Online research- We live in a world where technology is king, it's a good idea to teach and let them learn to use the internet for research and study. Here's 100 Free Homeschool Resources.
Don't be intimidated by creating your own unit study, just gather materials, include your child in the preperation, and have fun together with it! With a little work you can turn any topic into a unit study.