Teaching children to count is not as important as teaching them what counts.
What is a Unit Study?
With the unit study method, we choose one topic and combine different subjects to
revolve around and tie into that topic. First of all, the unit study approach is
different from the traditional textbook approach (which is to read a portion of
text, usually full of facts and not very interesting and then answer some questions
at the end).
Unit studies are conducted in a more relaxed fashion and are interactive in nature.
Although this exciting and lively approach to teaching works well with any number
of students, it is especially great for large families. Home educating families
appreciate this method because they usually have several students whose ages vary!
One characteristic of the unit study method is that of being more hands-on, project
and activity oriented. Engaging in these types of activities is what helps students
retain and remember what they are learning because they are experiencing learning
by using more of their senses. Unfortunately, sometimes these characteristics of
unit studies which make them appealing and desirable can also scare people away...if
they don't understand this principle: THERE ARE NO RULES!
A unit study can be anything you want it to be. It can be short or long, filled
with lots of activities or just a few, it can be something you do alongside your
other studies or a full blown unit study that takes several weeks. But the key is,
get to decide.
There are three avenues to consider when deciding how you will do a unit study:
— Purchase a complete unit study
— Use a prepared topical guide
— Create your own from scratch
There are TWO
key elements to unit studies:
— The READ ALOUD title
— The NOTEBOOK project
When teaching unit studies, we use lots of books. You need to choose a piece of
classic literature (a story) as your read aloud title and also incorporate lots
of other books to include: living books (historical fiction based on fact, classics,
etc.); educational color books, maps (geography happens naturally with unit studies),
atlases, Usborne books, Dorling Kindersly, Eyewitness (all filled with pictures
and text blocks) and many more! In order to classify your books, think of it like
— Read Aloud = Story.
— Source Books (for an "information time") = Non Fiction Books.
It is rare to find a child who doesn't love books. They love to go to the library
and they love to just sit and look at books! This alone should tell you something.
Soak your children in lots of good books! Your read aloud time becomes the center
focus of your study. From it you can pull spelling and vocabulary words and also
have the most meaningful discussions—tapping into teachable moments!
Briefly, the notebook is something which should be incorporated into each unit study.
Believe me, it is much more than a place to stash papers away. The notebook should:
— Provide a place for students to compile their work
— Serve as a permanent record of work accomplished
— Allow "ownership"—something to call their own
— Encourage creativity
— Provide an easy and practical hands-on project
— Become a reference work to be used in the future
— Become an educational keepsake to be proud of
— Provide a painless way for students to do reports
The notebook project is explained in detail in The Everything
Unit studies should make your life easier—they should help you actually accomplish
more "school" in less time and be more effective all the way around. In order to
learn everything you need to know about unit studies, you need to read my new book,
appropriately titled Everything You Need to Know About Homeschool Unit Studies
also in the Everything Toolbox
We're excited about the two "Everything" titles we listed because we believe these
two tools offer the most help for those seeking guidance and instruction about the
unit study method. Make sure you get a hold of both of them.
But Steward Ship has much more to offer you too! We have an exciting and ever growing
series of topical unit study guides (which fall into the category of "prepared topical
Make sure you check out our full line of unit studies in the
Quick Look Series
section and our line of topical guides in the Study Of
Not sure which resource will meet your needs? Request a copy of our FREE catalog
which includes information about support, teaching, workshops, books, guides, resources,
etc... click here