I wrote a blog post about “Homeschool Curriculum Made Easy” and I talked about how I love during unit studies because I can condense 5-7 subjects in one unit study. Click the link to read how I made my homeschool curriculum easy by condensing 8 subjects into 3-4 subject a day, making my homeschool days for my children and myself easy, fun, creative, challenging and engaging!I told you in that same blog post that I will share with you how I plan my unit studies so here you go! I use real photos in this blog to show you some of the books, activities and experiments we’ve done. The photos aren’t that great and I must tell you my children are ages 5, 6 and 12 who produced such amazing work for their age. You can tell my 12 year old work from the younger ones, it is a little neater. I allow them to be creative and take ownership of their work. It might not be the best writing skills and spelling skills but it is beautiful because we enjoyed every moment of this unit study.
So please read with an open mind. Learning should be fun for your children and it should be fun for you to teach them. Your children are not perfect and the work they produce might not be stellar but if you can get pass perfectionism, you will have a blast with your children and watch how excited they are to learn. All that matters is that they are proud of the work they produce and that they are absorbing the information.
Unit Studies is an awesome way to cut 8 subjects down a day and focus only on about 3-4 subjects a day. With unit studies you are still teaching all the subjects but not all in one day. Math is the only subject I do not incorporate in my unit studies. I have a math curriculum for each one of my children. My little ones who are not reading yet or not reading fluently do have a reading and writing curriculum.Unit Studies are really good for moms who have multiple children because every child can participate in the unit study. You can really tailor your unit studies to fit every school age child. I discovered unit studies when I hit homeschool burnout and needed something different to get me out of that rut. I am a mom to 4 homeschoolers. I wanted something that I could teach all of my children at the same time. I needed it to be easy, fun, creative, engaging and challenging.
I looked at videos and blogs about unit studies when I decided to homeschool my children but quickly dismissed the idea because I thought it was too time consuming and I wasn’t confident in my abilities as a homeschool mom at that time. I felt like I needed a set curriculum so that my kids would be up to grade level. Don’t get me wrong, you have to put in a little time and effort to make your unit study come alive, fun, engaging and interesting but it is worth the effort! My children absorbs more information with unit studies than with a box curriculum. What I discovered with a unit study is that I was able to give them bite size information that they were able to absorb and remember.
HERE ARE THE 5 STEPS I USE TO PLAN MY HOMESCHOOL UNIT STUDIES
1. I pick a topic I want to teach my children, for example; Here are a list of topics we will be during unit studies on this year. The Human Body, Sun Moon Planets, Genetics, Plant Life, Weather and Matter.
2. I take each subject and write out what topics I want them to learn about for that unit study. I will use The Human Body” as my example since we’ve already completed this unit study. I will be showing you all that we’ve learned and all the subjects we covered using just the human body.If you don’t know what topics you want to cover for a particular unit study, the best way to come up with your topics is to look in a book on the subject you want to teach on. Look in the table of content section, it will give you chapter titles that they thought were important for that book. Choose several topics from each book to create your unit study.
I wanted them to learn about:
Skin, skeleton system including bones and joints, muscles and tendons, digestive system, nervous system, circulatory system, urinary system, eye, genetics, cells and organs(the organs was included in the systems).
3. Then I had to decide how long did I wanted to teach “The Human Body” unit study. I counted how many sub-topics I had. I had 10 topics I wanted to cover for the human body. I took 2 topics to teach on per week. My human body unit study would take us 5 weeks to cover.
You can decide what you want to teach and how long do you want your unit study to last. Some people only want to take 1 week to teach a unit study. You can tailor your unit study any way you want to, that is the beauty of creating your unit study.4. Now you can gather your books on your subject. You can gather your books from your personal library at home or use your public library. I like to use my public library because you will find a variety of books on your subject.
I only recommend about 2 to 3 books on your intended subject to gather your facts and information from. This prevent overwhelm and keep everything simple.
You can also print information from on-line as well. You will need a printer because you might want to print things off the computer.
Now here is where the fun part comes in, picking fun illustrated books that is packed with informative information that your kids will love and that you love teaching. You do not have to teach from a boring text book for your kids to learn. It can be exciting for them to learn.
5. Here is how I create my lesson plan every time I teach a new topic. This is the format I use every time to make sure that I am covering all my subject areas. I gather important information for each subject and plan accordingly.
Bible, Art, Science, Reading, Writing, Language Arts, Health, History, Gym, Fun Facts, and Book Reports. Geography occasionally. All of these subjects are covered in my unit studies.
This is how my lesson plan looked for Skin
Bible: Psalms 139:14 I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully and made. Wonderful are your works and my soul knows it very well. This was our bible verse all week. Mon.- Fri. My children had to write this scripture verse everyday.
Health: Sprong Owners Manual Battle Cole book, “How to take Care of a Sprong.” What is a Healthy Sprog. Human Body book, by the Eye Witness Explores, pages 14-15. “EEW! book,” We read books together and talked about how to take care of your body and skin.
Art: We drew the skin and labeled it on Mon. Drew hair and labeled it on Tue. Drew nails and labeled it and Drew Madam C.J. Walker and wrote a book report about her on Wed. Drew Fingers and labeled it on Thurs. We had arts and crafts: made mummies and organs out of play doh and made Egyptian coffins on Fri.
Gym: We ran everyday until we sweated as an experiment Mon-Fri. We wanted to get the body to heat up and then we fanned ourselves to cool down the body and learned what happens to the layers of skin when this happens. (dermis and epidermis).History: We learned about Black History with Madam C. J. Walker. We were learning about hair and I thought is would be a great idea to read about the first black millionaire woman entrepreneur, who created her wealth from being a cosmetologist who owned her own hair salon, beauty school and she invented and created her own hair products. She also was a civil rights activist. My children did a book report about her. We went to the library and borrowed books on Madam C. J. Walker. We also took a field trip to her museum in Indian last year in the summer. We did our book reports on Wed. This is where our Language Arts skills came into play. We did writing, edit and grammar corrections. The littles one did copy work.We studied Ancient Egypt. We focused only on the embalming process because it talked about how the Egyptian let the skin dry out in the sun before the embalming process, we took it a step further and made mummies out of play doh(look closely at the picture to see the pink and white mummy), wrapped the mummies bodies, made organs out of play doh, put them in our homemade Canopic Jars and we made Egyptians coffins. We talked about how Americans adopted some of the same embalming practices and funeral practice as the Egyptias. We did our embalming process on Fri.
Reading: What are the purpose and functions of the skin, hair, and nails? We learned terminology and detailed information about skin, hair and nails. Mon.-Fri.Science: Most of my unit studies are science based. We were learning about science the entire unit study.
Geography: We talked about where Ancient Egypt was located in the world and looked it up on the map.
Fun Facts re-enforce your lessons and help you to teach what’s really important and pushes those main ideas into your child’s subconscious mind. Fun facts are very important information your child needs to know.
How do I find my fun facts? I look through my books that I am teaching from and pull out factual information and write a list of them down for my unit study. I wrote 12 fun facts for this unit study and incorporated them through out my lesson.
- Experiments and Activities:
- We brought an ink pad at the dollar stores and stamped our fingerprints and talked about how no one else in the world has fingerprints like you.
- We ran and played until we sweated and talked about how our body heats up and cool down and the effects this have on your dermis and epidermis.
- We looked at our skin through a magnifying glass and looked and talked about what we we saw on our skin and the different layers of our skin.
- We cut out people from a magazine with lighter skin and darker skin and talked about who has less melanin and who have more melanin. We talked about the importance of using sunscreen to protect the sun from skin diseases.
- We created mummies and coffins and learned about Ancient Egypt embalming process.
- We cut out pictures and drew pictures of different textures of hair. Straight hair have round follicle, curly hair have flat follicles and wavy hair have oval follicles. We learned that melanin in the hair is the same process as melanin in the skin.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about how I plan my unit studies and seeing some of our original drawings, experiments and activities on the skin. Unit studies are a blast. If you have not done a unit study yet, I hope you would consider doing one just for fun. If you do not want to take the time to plan a unit study, there are unit studies already prepared for you that you can purchase and some websites offer unit studies for free. Pinterest.com is a great way to find unit studies.
I would love to hear from you. Have you ever planned a unit study and if so, did you enjoy the process or was it overwhelming for you? I would love to know your thoughts. Subscribe to Breakthough Blog 4 Women. Follow me on social media by clicking the links at the bottom. Click here to follow me on Instagram for more life changing content.