Unit Studies—Immersive Learning at its Best
by Homeschool.com’s Rebecca Kochenderfer
Variety is the spice of life, and this is especially true when it comes to homechooling. Shake things up a little this month. Put away the curriculum you’ve been using all winter long, and try a week-long unit study. Your family will love it and you will too!
Unit studies are simply a series of hands-on projects that revolve around a single theme. Depending on how you decide to implement the plan, unit studies can focus on any subjects you choose. They are a great way to meet the needs of multi-age siblings learning together.
- Ask your kids to identify one theme that interests them such as dinosaurs, under water life, Shakespeare or the Olympics. Be sure that the theme they choose is broad enough in scope to hold everyone’s attention.
- Identify resources and activities such as craft projects, field trips, concerts, books, and films that relate to the theme.
- Map out the week and gather any materials you will need.
A week-long unit study on China might look something like this:
Monday: Find China on the map. Make a historical timeline. Plan an imaginary trip to a famous Chinese attraction.
Tuesday: Cook a traditional Chinese meal. Read storybooks and listen to traditional music from China. Learn to play traditional Chinese games.
Wednesday: Build a replica of the Terracotta Warriors or of The Great Wall of China. Look for photos of these national treasures and discuss their cultural significance.
Thursday: Invite someone over who has visited or lived in China, and listen to their first-hand accounts of the region. Take a look at ancient Chinese systems of mathematics. Study Confucianism.
Friday: Visit a museum exhibit about Chinese civilization. Pretend you are a tour guide and design an advertisement featuring the most impressive sites in the country.
If the week is a success, you may decide that unit studies will be a regular part of your homechooling routine. The possibilities for developing engaging, fun-filled unit studies are endless, and your kids will love helping you develop these lesson plans. There are also many online resources featuring unit studies that you can purchase or download for free.