Is there a subject or topic your children are interested in and you would like to include in your homeschool plans? In fact, an easy way to do that is with a unit study. While there are many different ways to do a homeschool unit study, a great thing about them is the flexibility to go as in-depth as you want. Depending on your child’s interest level, you can make them last a day or a month!
Since so many are jumping back into the homeschool routine for the year, we wanted to offer some mini-unit studies for fun learning based on holidays sprinkled throughout the school year. This way, as you’re making your lesson plans, we could help you by having some done for you! We chose one “theme day” per month, and they include:
- National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day (September 13)
- National Mad Hatter Day (October 6)
- Teddy Bear Day (November 14)
- Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day (December 8)
- Kid Inventors’ Day (January 17)
- Random Acts of Kindness Day (February 17)
- Dr. Seuss Day (March 2)
- Pony Express Day (April 3)
- International Firefighters Day (May 4)
Download your free homeschool unit study theme days ebook at the bottom of this article!
National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day (September 13)
- A Is for Artichoke: An ABC Book of Food, Kitchens, and Cooking for Kids, from Artichoke to Zest by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- Curious George and the Pizza Party by Margret and H.A. Rey
- Little Chef by Elizabeth Weinberg
- Mom and Me Cooking Together by Danielle Kartes
- The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs: 100+ Recipes that You’ll Love to Cook and Eat by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- At 12 years old, Great Britain’s Omari McQueen became the youngest chef with his own cooking show.
- The Golden Temple in India is the world’s largest community kitchen. They feed approximately 100,000 hungry people every day!
- The oldest cookbook is called the Yale Culinary Tablets. These tablets date back to 1700 B.C. in Mesopotamia.
- Pizza Bagels: This simple snack is made up of only a few ingredients! First, grab some mini bagels (or use the full size and make it your lunch!), spread pizza sauce, sprinkle shredded cheese, and add your choice of toppings. Then they can be baked in a stove, toaster oven, or even an air fryer!
- Protein Balls: These use a few unusual ingredients, but are easy to make, healthy, and delicious! Start by adding 1 cup of nut butter, 5 pitted dates, 1/4 cup of protein powder, 3/4 cup of hemp seeds, and 1/2 cup of chia seeds in a food processor. Next, blend until smooth, roll into balls, and they’re ready to go! (Psst. Drizzle some melted chocolate on top of the balls for an extra treat!)
- Banana Sushi: This snack is so fun to make and eat. Your kids are sure to love it! First, chop some bananas into about 3″ pieces, use a smooth spread, and roll in different ingredients. For the smooth spread, use a nut butter or whipped cream cheese. Next, have some crushed ingredients like cereal, chopped chocolate, shredded coconut, or cinnamon sugar ready to roll the banana slices in. Lastly, make it extra fun by eating with chopsticks!
- Turn on the Food Network: Find your favorite cooking show (I’m partial to the Pioneer Woman myself) to watch with your kids to get some culinary inspiration!
- Get in the kitchen: Make a supper menu with your kids, including dessert, and let them help from start to finish. Gather the ingredients, mix them together, and get to cooking! Bonus points if they have an apron!
- Don’t forget to clean up: Be sure to let your kids help with the post-cooking cleanup. Get that kitchen sparkling so they can see all the work that goes into a meal – before and after!
National Mad Hatter Day (October 6)
- Alice in Wonderland: The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party by Lewis Carroll
- Tea Rex by Molly Idle
- The Big Book of Silly Jokes for Kids by Carole P. Roman
- Alice’s Puzzle Adventures in Wonderland: A Curious Collection of Puzzles to Solve by Gareth Moore
- Come to My Tea Party: Whimsical Teatimes Especially for Children by Lorna Reeves
- The Mad Hatter character is actually based on a real person named Theophilus Carter. Carter is rumored to have invented an alarm clock bed. It woke its sleeper by dumping him into a tub full of cold water!
- Hatters were those who sold hats as a profession. In fact, they were necessary because it was considered rude to appear in public without a hat.
- The Mad Hatter was cast as a Batman supervillain in a Batman comic book in 1948.
- Mad Hatter Tea Party Caterpillars: For this simple snack, all you need are green grapes and kabob sticks! You can fancy them up a bit by piping a bit of vanilla icing and sticking on a mini chocolate chip for caterpillar eyes.
- Mad Hatter Marshmallow Hats: First, grab a bag of regular-size marshmallows, a bag of melting chocolate discs in your choice of color, and some round butter crackers. Then using a toothpick, dip the marshmallow and cracker in the melted chocolate. Put the marshmallow on top of the cracker and let it harden. Finally, you can use piped icing to decorate it further, or just make the hat!
- Decorate Your Own Silly Hat: Of course, the Mad Hatter is known for his giant silly hat. There are lots of websites with instructions on how to make your own hat that range from easy to quite complicated. AND, if that’s your cup of tea (ha!), go for it! A great alternative is to take your kids thrifting and buy a cheap top hat. Pull out fabric and ribbon scraps and redecorate it in whatever silly way you choose!
- Have a Joke Telling Contest: The Mad Hatter is a funny character that is known for his ridiculous riddles. Let your kids have a contest telling jokes and see who can make each other laugh the hardest!
- Have a Tea Party: Put out a tablecloth, dress up in fancy clothes, make fun little finger foods, and brew a pot of tea with cream and sugar…or dress up and take your kids to a tea room! Either way, they’re sure to love doing this activity with you. Just make sure pinkies are out!
National Teddy Bear Day (November 14)
- Teddy Bears’ Picnic by Jimmy Kennedy
- Biscuit and the Lost Teddy Bear by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
- Teddy: The Remarkable Tale of a President, a Cartoonist, a Toymaker and a Bear by James Sage
- Teddy Bear Counting by Barbara Barbieri McGrath
- A Bear to Share by Jessica Alba, Kelly Sawyer Patricof, and Norah Weinstein
- Teddy Bears were named after President Theodore Roosevelt. On a hunting trip in 1902, he refused to shoot a bear. A man named Morris Michtom saw a drawing depicting the encounter and began calling the stuffed bears “teddy bears.” A fun historical event to use for a homeschool theme day.
- The Teddy Bear Corps is a program that teaches children what to do in case of an emergency. Each program member is given a teddy bear upon graduation from the Corps.
- The first teddy bears were made with mohair (from goats) and wool, and they were completely unwashable. Not ideal for children.
- Teddy Bear Rice Cake: Use a rice cake to make a teddy bear face your kids are sure to love. Spread the rice cake with a nut butter, add 3 banana slices for the snout and ears, 2 mini chocolate chips (or blueberries!) for the eyes, and a chocolate-covered raisin for the nose. Adorable and delicious!
- Teddy Bear Trail Mix: Mix up some teddy trail mix for some fun snacking. This recipe makes a lot, so it can be enjoyed throughout the week! Simply mix together a large can of peanuts, a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, a bag of mini pretzels, a box of honey teddy bear cookies, a box of chocolate teddy bear cookies, and a large bag of M&Ms.
- Teddy Bear Kebabs: Grab some skewers, fruit, and a small bear cookie cutter for this healthy snack! The best part of these kebabs is that you can use any kind of fruit your kids love. Use the cookie cutter to make bear shapes from watermelon, cantaloupe, or honeydew. Add the bear to the middle of the skewer, and fill the ends with blueberries, grapes, strawberries, banana slices…whatever you want!
- Teddy Bear Learning: Use your kid’s teddy bears for learning throughout your homeschool routine. There are so many things you can do! Here are a few examples:
- Measure them with a tape measure and see which bear is the longest, shortest, widest, etc. Depending on the age of your children, have them record the measurements and find the difference between the tallest and shortest.
- Use gummy bears to graph the teddy bear colors.
- Add either teddy cookies or gummy bears to a jar and have your kids predict how many are in the jar, then count them and see who was closest.
- Brainstorm adjectives for your kids to describe their teddy bears — soft, cuddly, small, big, etc.
- Teddy Bear Picnic: Take your kids and their favorite teddies on a teddy bear picnic! Make it extra fun by packing bear-themed foods. Use a bear cookie cutter to make bear-shaped sandwiches. (See snack ideas for other suggestions.) You can either make it fancy like a tea party or go out into the yard or to a park with the full tablecloth/picnic experience!
- Donate a Teddy Bear: Read A Bear to Share and let your kids pick out a bear to donate to a local shelter, daycare center, Toys for Tots center, etc.
Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day (December 8)
- Arthur Travels Back in Time by Gene Lipen
- The Time Travel Guides (4-book series) by Linda Bailey
- Lost on the Titanic (Out of Time Book 1) by Jessica Rinker
- Time Travel Inn by Bart King
- The Time Travel Adventures of Rory & Lloyd (10-book series) by A.J. Mueller
- Because of Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, some physicists actually believe that there are chances of time travel in the future.
- NASA’s space telescopes also give us a way to look back in time. Telescopes help us see stars and galaxies that are very far away. It takes a long time for the light from very distant galaxies to reach us. So, when we look into the sky with a telescope, we are seeing what those stars and galaxies looked like a very long time ago.
- Time is the fourth dimension along with the other three which are length, height, and width.
- Cracker Jacks: Travel back to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1983 where Cracker Jacks made their debut.
- Jello: In 1897, a man named Pearl B. Wait, a maker of cough syrup, created the gelatin dessert we know and love. His wife is actually the one who coined the name “Jell-O.”
- Skippy Peanut Butter: In 1890, a doctor invented the protein-packed peanut butter. It wasn’t until 1933, however, that Joseph Rosefield figured out the process to keep the oil from separating and Skippy peanut butter was born.
- Research a Historical Event: Have your children come up with a past event they would like to learn more about. Do they wonder what it was like on board the Titanic? To see the first flight at Kitty Hawk? To watch as our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence? Let them choose an event, research it together, and become time travelers! This is a great opportunity to let your children take charge of their learning!
- Take a Field Trip: Plan a visit to an old cavern, battlefield, or even just a museum. Seeing these things and places can really make one feel as though they are traveling back in time! There are days when you just don’t need lesson plans!
- Dress Up Like a Time Traveler: Whether you prefer Doctor Who (Allonsy, anyone?), Back to the Future, or another time-traveling movie or book, get creative in the closet and put together an outfit to honor your favorite time traveler!
- Bonus: End the day by snuggling your little time travelers and watch Mr. Peabody and Sherman use their WABAC (way back)!
Kid Inventors’ Day (January 17)
- The Most Famous Inventors Who Ever Lived by Tech Tron
- Inventor Ninja: A Children’s Book About Creativity and Where Ideas Come From by Mary Nhin
- Kid Innovators: True Tales of Childhood from Inventors and Trailblazers by Robin Stevenson
- I Can Be an Awesome Inventor: Fun STEM Activities for Kids by Anna Claybourne
- The Complete Cookbook for Young Scientists: Good Science Makes Great Food by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- Kid Inventors’ Day is celebrated on January 17 in honor of Benjamin Franklin. (It’s his birthday!) While he invented many things throughout his life, Ben Franklin created swim flippers at only 12 years old!
- In 1824, child inventor Louis Braille invented Braille — the language of the blind we still use today!
- In April 2008, five-year-old Samuel Thomas Houghton was the youngest person ever to be granted a patent for his invention of a “Sweeping Device with Two Heads.”
- Make Popsicles: Did you know popsicles were made in 1905 by a child inventor named Frank Epperson? He was 11 years old when he accidentally left his drink outside on the porch with a stirring stick inside. It got very cold that night, and he discovered the frozen drink on a stick the next morning. That’s how popsicles were born! Let your kids choose a flavor, tell them the history, and freeze some popsicles to have for a snack!
- Science You Can Eat: Get the science cookbook mentioned above either from the library or a book store/Amazon, let your kids pick out a recipe, and bring science into the kitchen. If you’re feeling brave and want to get super creative, let them “invent” their own recipe!
- Edible Structural Engineering: Grab some small, soft foods (like mini marshmallows, small apple cubes, pieces of chopped string cheese, bread cubes, etc.), and some toothpicks. Have your kids carefully construct a building of their own imagination using the food and sticks. Once finished, they can tell about their building – what it is, its use, etc. – and then eat the snack!
- Make a Vehicle: Did you know toy trucks were first patented by a father who watched his son create and play with a truck? Have your kids gather some materials (a shoe box, food storage container, cardboard, etc.) and make their own vehicles! It can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it!
- Make Tin Can Walkie-Talkies: Did you know underwater walkie-talkies were invented by a 13-year-old boy in 1998? While your kids can’t make a fortune off of them, they can make their own walkie-talkies with a few materials. Take 2 clean tin cans, and using a nail and hammer, make a hole in the bottom of each can. Cut a string at least 10 feet long and insert it through the holes, tying knots to keep the string in the can. Your kids can decorate the cans if they want to add their unique touch, and get to talking!
- Come up with Their Own Invention: Starting with a pencil and paper, let your kids brainstorm and think of something they can invent. They can write down their idea, its purpose, materials they would need, and if possible, they can build it! We are loving these free unit study ideas!
Random Acts of Kindness Day (February 17)
- The Little Things: A Story About Acts of Kindness by Christian Trimmer
- Kindness Rocks by Sonica Ellis
- Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud
- The World Needs More Purple People by Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart
- When You Take a Cow On a Train: How One Encourager Changes Everything by Sally Blass Murray
- Engaging in acts of kindness produces endorphins—the brain’s natural painkiller!
- Mark Twain defined kindness as the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
- In 1987, Princess Diana performed a random act of kindness that had lasting repercussions. She shook the hand of a man who had AIDS. Until that time, it was presumed the disease was passed through contact. Her kind act of a simple handshake made people more compassionate.
- Apple Smiles: Slice red apples to look like lips, line the inside of the “lips” with a nut butter, and add a layer of mini marshmallows for teeth. These smiles are sure to encourage kindness and make your kids smile!
- Chocolate Chip Cookies: Who doesn’t love a good chocolate chip cookie?! They are the ultimate comfort food and can make people feel warm and fuzzy inside. Bake some with your children for your family to enjoy, and bag up a few to pass along to a friend, neighbor, or even stranger to celebrate this day!
- Your Favorites: If you have more than one child, let them fix their sibling their favorite snack. If you only have one child, then he can fix your favorite snack while you fix his (or hers). It’s simple, but doing something as basic as bringing their brother or sister (or mom!) their favorite snack is an act of kindness that can go a long way!
- Kindness Suggestions:
- Compliment a stranger
- Plant a tree
- Gather things to donate to a shelter
- Walk a neighbor’s dog
- Write chalk messages on the sidewalk
- Clean up a mess you didn’t make
- Teach someone something new
- Bake dessert for a neighbor
- Leave a sweet note in a library book
- Smile at everybody!
Dr. Seuss Day (March 2)
- The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
- The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
- Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
- Dr. Seuss: The Great Doodler by Kate Klimo
- Cook It! The Dr. Seuss Cookbook for Kid Chefs by Daniel Gercke
- Theodor Seuss Geisel, the man we know and love as Dr. Seuss, kept a closet full of crazy hats. When he was writing and feeling stumped, he’d pull out a wacky hat to get his creative juices flowing again!
- Dr. Seuss invented the word “nerd.” He used it in his book If I Ran the Zoo.
- Dr. Seuss’s personalized license plate read “GRINCH.”
- Green Eggs and Ham Omelet: Make breakfast extra special with some green food coloring added to your egg omelet. Throw in some ham and cheese, and you can celebrate our well-loved author all day long!
- Cat in the Hat Kebabs: Layer sliced strawberries and bananas to create the hat, ending with either a marshmallow or a white powdered mini doughnut for the brim!
- Grinch Strawberries: Remove the strawberry hull, dip that wide end of a strawberry into melted green candy melts, and sprinkle with green sugar sprinkles. Pipe some white icing above the green stripe for the rim of his Santa cap, and add one white bit of icing on top for the tip of the Santa cap. A quick and easy Santa Grinch snack!
- Dr. Seuss Handprint Art: Make some red and blue fish, a green Grinch, an orange and yellow Lorax, a black and white Cat in the Hat…there are so many possibilities!
- Cat in the Hat Word Games: Make your own Cat in the Hat hats with fun sight words like van, man, ran, can, plan, etc. Stack them in rows based on their letter sounds. This can be as simple or advanced as your child’s reading ability!
- Make Truffula Trees: Paint white paper plates pastel colors, use scissors to cut around the edge to make them appear fluffy, decorate popsicle sticks for the tree trunks, and glue them to the back of the plate.
Pony Express Day (April 3)
- Before FedEx, There Was the Pony Express by Baby Professor
- They’re Off!: The Story of the Pony Express by Cheryl Harness
- Riding With The Mail: The Story of the Pony Express by Gare Thompson
- Riders of the Pony Express by Ralph Moody
- Bronco Charlie and the Pony Express by Marlene Targ Brill
- Since the goal of the Pony Express was to reach their destination as quickly as possible, the riders had to be thin and wiry. They couldn’t be over 125 pounds!
- The youngest Pony Express rider was 11-year-old “Bronco” Charlie Miller.
- Despite the dangers of constantly riding at breakneck speed over long distances, only 6 riders died in the line of duty during the existence of the Pony Express.
- Beef Jerky: Pony Express riders kept the high-protein snack to keep their strength up on the trail.
- Chili and Cornbread: This was a standard meal in the West as it was easy to throw together with simple ingredients, filling, and easy to cook over a campfire.
- Peaches and Cream: Occasionally, a rider would stop for a night at a home along the way to have a meal and a bed. Richard Francis Burton, a Pony Express rider, once mentioned having peaches and cream as a dessert at one of these stopovers.
- Write a Letter: The Pony Express delivered mail from Missouri to California before the Civil War. Have your kids imagine they lived then and write a letter to someone to be delivered via Pony Express riders. What a great way to use fun learning to motivate your kids to write!
- Ride a Horse: Visit a farm that offers horseback riding so your children can experience a taste of what it was like to be a Pony Express rider.
- Visit a Site Along the Pony Express National Historic Trail: Depending on where you live, a visit out west may not be possible, but thanks to the internet, you can still explore the stops along the trail!
International Firefighters Day (May 4)
- Curious George and the Firefighters by Margret and H.A. Rey
- Richard Scarry’s A Day at the Fire Station by Richard Scarry
- Pete the Cat: Firefighter Pete by James Dean
- Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter by Dianne Ochiltree
- Fighting Fire!: Ten of the Deadliest Fires in American History and How We Fought Them by Michael L. Cooper
- Benjamin Franklin is responsible for the first fire company in Philadelphia and these firefighters were known as Benjamin Franklin’s Bucket Brigade.
- The first fire engine was made in London in 1690 by John Lofting. It was called the “Sucking Worm Engine.”
- The most decorated Firefighter in FDNY history is Jack Pritchard. He joined the FDNY in 1970, endured many serious injuries, and saved countless lives in incredibly heroic ways. He finally retired from the department in 1999 with the rank of Battalion Chief, ending his career by simply stating, “It’s been a real honor to be a firefighter.”
- Firetruck Crackers: Use a long rectangle graham cracker for the truck, paint it with red icing, make a ladder along the side of the truck out of mini stick pretzels, and finish with 2 mini Oreo cookies for the wheels.
- Pretzel Matches: Discuss fire safety while making this yummy snack! Dip the end of a big pretzel stick into melted white chocolate, and sprinkle or roll in red sugar sprinkles to make the end of the match!
- Fire Cup Smoothies: Make 2 small batches of smoothies – one orange with plain or vanilla yogurt and a small amount of orange juice, and one red with yogurt and strawberries. Layer the two in a clear cup, and enjoy!
- Stop, Drop, and Roll: Practice what to do in case of a fire. Wave around a white sheet as pretend smoke. Your kids can practice crawling under the sheet to stay beneath the smoke.
- Make a Firefighter Plate Hat: No firefighter hat? No problem! Your child can paint a paper plate red and make their own firefighter hat. While the plate is drying, cut a crest shape out of yellow construction paper. Draw an “F” and “D” on the crest with a black marker. Once the paper plate is dry, make a “U” shaped cut in the inner portion of the paper plate. Size the cut to fit your child’s head. Glue the crest onto the inner flap portion of the plate, and bend it upwards until you are happy with the shape. Get ready to rescue kittens, put out fires, and drive the fire truck!
- Visit a Fire Station: Take your kids to tour a local fire station! The firefighters will show them the trucks, their tools, their turnout gear, and maybe take them for a ride in the fire truck!