/ June 21, 2022/ Board Games/ 3 comments

Here’s the deal: creating a unit study doesn’t have to be hard. Unit studies can be as simple or as easy as you’d like. I try to incorporate as many different types of resources as I can, but I don’t let myself stress out if our unit study is simple. Sometimes, there are just not a lot of readily available resources, and that’s okay.

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Step 1: Choose Either a Topic or a Resource

I frequently start with a topic in mind, but if you come across a really cool resource, it’s totally fine to build a unit around that resource. Sometimes I’ll choose the topic, but often my kids will. Remember, the more control you can give your kids, the more buy-in you’ll have, the more invested they’ll be, and ultimately, the more they’ll get out of the unit.

Step 2: Choose Some Books

I like at least one good coffee-table-type book; this is a book with some words, but lots of beautiful pictures. It can be designed for kids but doesn’t have to be. Your kids may prefer more refined resources.

I try to have at least one chapter book that’s at about the right level for my kids. Right now, that means an early chapter book, something that’s skinnier, but as they get older, they’ll want bigger books. Usually, I end up with a lot more than one chapter book, but my kids don’t tend to read more than one unless I’m reading to them.

You want a good collection of picture books. Picture books are quick and easy to read through, but also highly rewarding for many kids. A nice variety of sub-topics can be presented in smaller bites.

For kids that like comic books or graphic novels, try to include at least a couple if you can. They’re getting easier to find for many nonfiction topics. Science Comics (paid link) is a good place to start for many science topics, while Hazardous Tales (paid link) and Honest History are good for history.

Next, you want a good collection of kids’ nonfiction books. Try to get books your kids enjoy and want to read. I like Magic Tree House’s Fact Trackers (paid link), and so did my kids…for about a month. Now they’re over them, but I keep picking them up from the library, and they never get read. At least I’m using my library, right?

Round out your book collection with some books that are outside what you think your kids’ comfort levels are. This might mean you have some adult nonfiction or fiction books, and maybe some leveled readers. While my daughter *can* read chapter books, she is often more comfortable reading leveled readers, so she’ll spend more time with them. That’s okay. What’s important is that she’s reading, and the same goes for your kiddo(s).

Step 3: Find Some Documentaries

unit study documentaries

This is where that subscription to Curiosity Stream really comes in handy. Their search function is pretty terrible, but it is a start. Or if you, like me, let your kids pick what documentaries they want to watch often enough, your kids will figure out the navigation faster than you will, and you can let them find documentaries (especially if they picked the topic).

Many other streaming services are also helpful here. Netflix, Amazon Prime (paid link), and even Disney + have many documentaries, you just have to weed through all their other shows to find them. At least Disney has National Geographic which can be easier to look through. And don’t forget your library, either! Libraries often have both physical DVDs and streaming access to many documentaries.

Step 4: Games!

Of course, this is one of my favorite parts. There are SO MANY GAMES, and so many of them are awesome. Especially science games. Genius Games (paid link) has made a lot of great ones, but there are other publishers, too. NorthStar Games did the Evolution (paid link) series, Dice Hate Me Games did Compounded (chemistry game, paid link), and the Fluxx games are great, too. It can be harder to find good history games, but they are out there, too.

Step 5: Anything Else

Molecule model” by nayukim is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Round out your unit with whatever different types of resources you can find. Maybe a field trip to a museum or farm, watching a fun movie or a TV show together, listening to music, or a science experiment or two. Maybe there’s a different hands-on activity you can incorporate, or if you can somehow include food, that’s generally a winner. Podcasts and audiobooks (paid link) are also good to include.

Have you noticed what I don’t include? I don’t use any worksheets, tests, or really anything that I might mistake as busy work. You are, of course, welcome to include them. Building your own unit study is about what works for you and your kids, not what works for someone else. Maybe, when my kids are older and actually writing, we’ll include more writing in our unit studies.

What are your favorite tips for unit studies? Do you have any favorite resources?

If you’d like some guidance creating your own unit studies for learning about different countries, check out these 19 different country resource lists!

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3 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Struggle between Unschooling vs. Traditional Homeschooling - 4onemore

  2. This is great, thank you. I keep trying to make unit studies and feel like I’m floundering. This is a great outline for making sure I have just enough of what we need.

    1. You are very welcome! I’m so glad it helped. Let me know if you need any more guidance. I’m starting to create unit studies, too, if you want something with a little more to it.

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