How to Plan a Unit Study
At this point in our homeschool journey, we predominantly use unit studies. I believe unit studies offer a unique opportunity to instill a love of learning that will last a lifetime. Unit studies focus on topics/themes Emily is truly interested in. That way, she is more likely to remember the things she learns.
It’s also a great way to encourage her to deep dive into subjects she wants to learn about. By using unit studies, we can focus on the things she really wants to learn. It’s a great way to encourage kids who might not be as interested in learning to engage with the lessons.
I often get asked a lot of questions about why we use unit studies and how I plan each of our unit studies. Let’s talk more about it and I’ll do my best to answer all your questions.
How do I decide what we will study?
I think it’s really important to focus on my child’s interests in our unit studies. For example, she really loves the Magic Treehouse book series by Mary Pope Osborne. That’s what inspired me to create Passport to Adventures. It’s a compilation of unit studies based on the series that allows her to journey to all the places Jack and Annie visit in the books.
What subjects do I include in a unit study?
Usually, I incorporate history, science, geography, art, and music. I don’t include language arts or mathematics. We often play fun games or do activities involved with language arts and math, but it’s not the main way we learn those subjects.
How long does our typical unit study last?
It’s important for a unit study to be long enough to satisfy your child’s interest in the subject. For us, unit studies typically last at least a week. In fact, most last somewhere between one to three weeks.
Sometimes we dive really deep and a study will last 3+ weeks, but a month is generally too long to really hold her interest.
Steps for Planning a Unit Study
Thinking about planning an entire unit study can feel overwhelming. I often get asked how I do it, so I decided to break it down into easy steps.
First, choose a topic that interests your child (this is probably the most important step).
Next comes the really fun part! Start a Pinterest board and library wish list. Save lots of ideas and don’t hold back! You may not get or do everything on the list, but you’re going to want a ton of ideas to choose from.
Then, collect all the things you already have that match the topic of your unit study. I usually walk around my house searching for applicable resources. What am I looking for? Books, games, hands-on activities, and manipulatives.
After that, I go to our streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, CurioustiyStream, and Youtube) to create playlists of everything that has to do with what we will be learning about. I’m looking for educational videos, songs, and even art tutorials.
Then, I go back to the Pinterest board I created earlier and choose the items I want to download/print.
I store all my items together in a large basket or bin. This way, they are easily accessible to my daughter. I try to have choices to cover a good variety of subjects.
Then, I save related programs to Emily’s tablet for her to explore. I like to find apps or even just books on Epic! for her.
Finally, I get out my unit study planner and write it all down. That way, I have a record of all the things we have available to do. As we do them, I put a check mark beside each one on the list. Then, when the unit is finished, I already have a completed list of what we actually did.
It’s important to know that you don’t need to do it all. We certainly won’t read all the books, watch all the videos, or do every activity I save to my Pinterest board. It’s just not possible! Choose a few items to be the “meat” of your homeschool unit study feast and focus on checking off those items. Let everything else be your child’s choice. Lay it all out like a feast and let them take as much as they need/want to satisfy their curiosity.
Remember, the important part is to have fun, learn a lot, and satisfy your child’s curiosity!
If you planning your own unit study still feels overwhelming then check out one our premade unit studies. It is written for you using these exact steps.