One of our favorite ways to learn as a family is through homeschooling unit studies. They combine math, grammar, history and science into the study of a single book, topic, country or event.
For instance, during our homeschool unit study on farms, we studied social studies by learning about different types of farms and how farms work, we studied science by learning about animals, we studied literature by reading James Herriot's Treasury for Children, we took a field trip to a local farm, and we wrote and enacted a play using farm puppets.
Here are some pictures from our study of farms.
Families who thrive on unit studies are notorious for following "rabbit trails" as the study of farms leads to the study of animals which takes them to the study of animals in different countries, which leads to the study of a particular culture, and so on.
Because children follow their interests and learn within a context, they retain information better than they do when reading textbooks and memorizing information for tests.
Homeschool unit studies can include the study of character traits, music, art, drama and clothing, and are great for combining multiple age groups into a single program. Older children can read higher level books and work on more complex projects, and younger children can be read picture books and work on projects at their level.
This method is great for building research skills in high school students. It mimics the way we learn as adults, thus preparing teens for real life.
Homeschooling unit studies require work on the part of the parent to plan, purchase and prepare materials. Since children are not tested, parents are responsible for assessing their child's needs and progress. Although these programs incorporate all subjects, many parents find it necessary add on a traditional math or language arts curricula.
Follow this link to read a transcript of my interview with Valerie Bendt, in which she provides helpful information about making the most of homeschool unit studies.
To save time on planning and preparation, many parents purchase pre-planned programs. Here are some popular providers of prepackaged homeschooling unit studies:
Amanda Bennett's Unit Studies
Cantering the Country
Five in a Row
Galloping the Globe
Heart of Wisdom
My Father's World
Tapestry of Grace
Here are some suggestions for designing your own homeschool unit study.
Lapbooking takes the information learned in a unit study and combines it into a file folder, scrapbook or homemade book. Lapbooks are a fun, hands-on way to reinforce or review homeschool lessons. They also provide a record of school projects that can be easily stored.
Here is some information that will help you learn more about lapbooks, along with links to helpful lapbooking resources.
You can learn more about lapbooking by reading my interview with Niki McNeil, co-owner of lap book publisher Hands of a Child.
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