Thursday, September 20, 2018

How Do You Use Unit Studies?

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How Do You Use Unit Studies? Part of the How Do You Homeschool series on Homeschool Coffee Break @

No matter how long we've been homeschooling, we are curious about how other homeschoolers do things. And homeschoolers who are newer to the game obviously have lots of questions! This series will try to answers some of the questions homeschoolers ask each other. Questions about how we handle some of the little details and about our opinions on different aspects of homeschooling. Questions that we all might answer differently because what works great in one family might not work at all in another. 

How do you use unit studies? Is it possible to build an entire year's curriculum using unit studies?

There are a lot of different ways to use unit studies, and we used them more when my students were younger. Yes, it is possible to build curriculum for an entire year around unit studies too!

I think of a unit study as a focused topic of study that includes more than one subject area. It can be a week long or a whole school year. It can cover just two or three subject areas, or a whole range. Some homeschoolers design their own unit studies simply by immersing themselves in whatever topic is of interest and exploring it from as many angles as they can. And of course there are many resources of all kinds if you want your unit studies planned for you.

Our first experience with unit study style learning was when my oldest two boys were in grade school, and I had a toddler and an infant. And we'd just moved into a new house, and I was overwhelmed. We started off with a general science book but I was picking and choosing the chapters. We started on the chapters about ocean life right around the time we went on a field trip to the National Aquarium. And the boys were interested and wanted to know more and I just went with it. By the end of that school year, I felt on the one hand like we really hadn't accomplished much because we'd done relatively little from the textbooks. But on the other hand (as my oversight reviewer reminded me), we had learned a lot - just not from traditional textbooks.

We didn't worry too much about the unit study covering all the subject areas. I liked to use the kind of study that started with history or geography and included other things along the way. I chose to keep using a separate math curriculum, and usually a separate language arts curriculum.

For a few years I made extensive use of a couple of great resources to build year-long history and geography unit studies that touched on a lot of other subjects. Around the World in 180 Days is essentially a huge unit study spine that you can adapt to fit your needs. The study covers geography, history, and world cultures over an entire school year; or more, depending on how in-depth you want to go, or how many rabbit trails you incorporate!

Geography Through Art by Sharon Jeffus and Jamie Aramini is another resource that we've used over and over again. It's an art project book with a lot of cultural and geographical information, so it qualifies as a unit study to my way of thinking. We've used it along with other curriculum and other unit studies to combine geography, history, social studies, and art! (Read more at: My Favorite Geography Resource)

Geography Through Art

Visits to Europe from Simply Charlotte Mason was the base for a year-long unit study on the cultural geography of Europe.

How Do You Use Unit Studies? Part of the How Do You Homeschool series on Homeschool Coffee Break @

How Do You Use Unit Studies? Part of the How Do You Homeschool series on Homeschool Coffee Break @

We've been able to review some unit studies as well. For instance, the Weather On The Move unit study from Homeschool Legacy. This was a seven-week study suitable for kids in grades 2 through 12. Using a series of these studies could certainly be a whole year's worth of study! (Read our full review here: Weather On the Move - Once-A-Week Unit Study Review)

Homeschool Legacy Review

Timelines and lapbooks make great records of what students have done in a unit study. And can provide the framework for a unit study too. Check out this Timeline of World War II or The 20th Century in America Lap-Pak from Home School in the Woods (and read our full reviews here: Hands-on History with Timelines from Home School in the Woods and The 20th Century in America - Home School in the Woods.)

Hands-on History with Timelines from Home School in the Woods - A Homeschool Coffee Break review for the Homeschool Review Crew @

How Do You Use Unit Studies? Part of the How Do You Homeschool series on Homeschool Coffee Break @

There are a lot of Unit Studies available on and many of the regular courses take a Unit Study approach. Take a look at their selection of Unit Studies.

That's how WE have used unit studies, but there are so many other ways to do it!

How do you use unit studies? Leave a comment and let me know how they fit into your homeschool - or leave a homeschool question you're curious about.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog for the Unit Studies - Round-up - How-to and Resources Guideand get some unit study ideas from other Crew members. (September 22, 2018)

Unit Studies - Round Up - Resources and How to Guide {Homeschool Link UP}

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