Unit studies are a way to take a topic or theme that your kids are interested in and do a deep dive lesson plan that teaches all age levels, and combines different subjects of your choice like language arts, history, science, music, geography, visual art, etc. Some homeschoolers prefer to combine all subjects into one unit study while other homeschoolers like to keep subjects like math, and even language arts in a separate curriculum while using unit studies to combine everything else. How you plan a unit study is completely up to you.
HOW LONG TO STAY ON A UNIT STUDY:
Most homeschoolers will use a unit study for 1-2 weeks, some even lasting 3 or more weeks. It will vary depending on the amount of time needed to cover everything you want to explore for your theme, and how much time your kids will be interested in a deep dive around that theme before getting bored.
I personally like to plan most of my unit studies to last a week, but the longest unit study I’ve ever planned lasted 3 weeks. This is because it was a unit study of a country where we not only tackled the typical subjects, but also did daily deep dives into the culture’s unique traditions and had a pretty extensive list of projects the kids really wanted to do. It was a unit study on Japan, and my daughter who has always been drawn to this culture requested it. So my kids were able to stay on it for 3 weeks without getting bored because it was such a massive topic with what seemed like unlimited subtopics they wanted to explore.
STEP BY STEP PROCESS:
• First, get yourself a notebook, or try out my Unit Study Planner. Sit with the kids and start brainstorming out topic ideas. Anything that interests them can be added to a "topic and theme ideas" list. Once you have listed a bunch of different ideas, you can start to pick which one you want to plan out first.
• Now it's INSPIRATION time! You can do this part however you like, but my favorite way to get things started is to go to Pinterest and start searching for my theme, create a board for each unit study idea, and start pinning anything that stands out. When I did this process for my Japan unit study, I found so many pins that gave me ideas for subtopics AND fun projects that I would have never thought of myself.
• After you have a Pinterest board (or notebook list or mind map) of all the different subtopic ideas, it’s time to gather supplies. Get to the library and grab every book you can find. Get on YouTube or Amazon Prime video and make a playlist of any video that will help you explore your topics. Write down any supplies you need for art projects, kitchen projects, or any games or activities you’ll be planning.
• Now start organizing your plan. Write down the theme of your unit study and any subtopics you plan to explore. List the resources you’ve gathered and any cool ideas you found on Pinterest or any ideas requested by the kids. If you have a neat idea for a field trip, be sure to write that down in your plan too. Then list your main subjects that will be covered and write a brief summary of how you plan to teach your topics and subtopics.
That's it!! Now you can start scheduling your subtopics on the days you want and plan your day by day. (Be sure to check out my homeschool planners and my daily homeschool journals on my website if you happen to need a good planner for homeschool!)
Here's look inside my Unit Study Planner and my recent Japan Unit Study
My Unit Study Planner helps make the process easy and is a great compliment to the one year homeschool planner. You can get my new full color Unit Study Planner here.
Unit studies are an amazing way to teach all of your kids at one time since you can adjust the assignments and projects for each age level, and they are a wonderful way to teach your kids to love learning since they can have a say in what interests they’d like to explore and get to deep dive into those interests through reading, videos, art projects and more.
Don’t worry if you can’t fit in all your ideas. In fact, if you have more ideas than you can fit, that’s a great problem to have! Consider breaking everything into two separate unit studies if you feel you have too much or think it may take too long.
Don’t worry if you don’t get around to it all. Over planning a unit study at the beginning is ok and the beauty about homeschooling is we can be flexible and adjust on the fly. If you want to scratch a few projects off your list, it’s ok. You can always come back later and do a part 2 of your unit study. Remember to keep it fun for you and the kids.
My Unit Study Planner will help you organize the structure and ideas for a unit study, and serve as a logbook, but I still recommend using a homeschool planner or daily journal to schedule out each day of your unit study into bite-size lessons.
You can snag my Unit Study Planner HERE on Amazon.