Have you ever found yourself intrigued by the whole philosophy behind unit studies but had no idea how in the world to implement them?
Believe me, I get it. When I was first introduced to unit studies, not only was I unsure of how to implement them, but I wasn’t even aware that they were to be used instead of textbooks, rather than in addition to them!
Figuring out how to use these amazing homeschooling resources can be a bit tricky if you don’t have a model to at least give you some ideas as to how to approach them. It can be really difficult to implement something that you’re not even sure how to schedule!
That’s what I’m going to help you with today. 🙂
3 Simple Tips for Unit Study Lesson Planning
The following are three methods I’ve used at different points in our homeschool to fit unit studies into our daily routine: (I’m assuming the use of pre-planned unit studies here. If you’re interested in learning how to write your own, I made a video last week on that.)
1. The Basic Math Approach
Confused? Don’t be! That’s simply a little attempt at humor because I couldn’t figure out what else to call this method. 🙂
Since unit studies can be used for different lengths of time depending upon what you’re doing or how deeply you want to delve into it, sometimes it’s helpful to have an idea of how long you’d like to spend on a particular unit study.
For example, let’s say you’re planning on doing a unit study on plants. You may decide that you’re hoping to spend about three weeks on the subject. One thing you can do is to simply run through the list of unit study activities and choose those you’re interested in sharing with your children. Afterwards, count how many activities have caught your attention. If you’ve found 15 activities you’d like to try, that would mean doing only about one activity per day. (Because three weeks= 15 days)
Similarly, if you are planning on spending eight weeks on mammals and have found 80 activities you’d enjoy, that would mean doing two activities per day for the entire eight weeks.
Alternatively, you could always count the number of activities first and then decide upon the length of your unit study based upon that.
2. The Go-With-the-Flow Approach
One thing I realized from planning my unit studies using the aforementioned method was that I felt that having a self-imposed time limit was too restrictive. If that sounds like you, you may prefer to do things this way.
The Go-With-the-Flow method is really basic, but it works! Simply figure out how many unit study activities per day you think your kids can handle. (Mine do two each day.) Then grab your planner- a spiral notebook will do just fine– and your unit study guide. As with above, skim through the activities until you find one your children may enjoy. Write that activity into your lesson planner. Skim through some more until you find another activity. Write that down.
Although unit studies are cross-curricular, most people who use them do supplement language arts and math, as do I. If you are planning on doing the same, here’s a little trick I use:
Take a close look at your unit study activities for the day. If either of them includes math, skip the math curriculum for the day. If either of them includes language arts, skip the language arts curriculum for the day.
Keep doing this until you’ve filled up a week of homeschool plans (or more depending upon how far ahead you like to plan).
3. The Hard Work Pays Off Approach
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get the planning bug.
Can you feel me?
Every once in a while, I get this really strong urge to plan, plan, and plan some more. While this may feel productive at the time, it can also be dangerous because it can be too easy to be insistent upon sticking to a lesson plan you’ve spent so. much. time. on.
However, I’ve found a way that you can make these long range plans work to your advantage.
Last summer, I sat down and wrote out an entire year’s worth of unit study activities. Not because I felt like I had to, but just because I felt like it. As I was writing it, though, I knew that I’d never use it as is.
And I don’t. But…
It is a HUGE time saver for me now because, rather than skimming through unit studies looking for activities every time I write my weekly lesson plan, all I need to do is refer to this “master list.” I’ve already done the hard work of picking and choosing on this long range plan. All that remains necessary is to transfer a week’s worth of activities into my lesson plan book each week.
I even wrote whether or not language arts and math would be necessary when I wrote this master list, so I don’t even have to do that!
Sigh. It’s almost too easy now…
Unit studies truly are one of the best things to happen to our homeschool. They’ve made learning not only more fun, but more natural. All you need is to find the right routine.
So now it’s your turn. Do you use unit studies? What planning tips do you have for people first becoming acquainted with this method?
(This post contains affiliate links.)
And now for my announcement! I just published a Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone Unit Study, and it’s available on Amazon! Included are a vocabulary list and 130 unit study activities that are all labeled with the subjects they cover. This is a perfect addition to any homeschooling family of Harry Potter fans!