Hello Homeschool Fam!
With Covid-19 so many of us have children hybrid learning, virtual learning, or homeschooling. Maybe a combination of all of them! This is going to be our second year of homeschooling, and I am so excited for this new beginning! However, the one thing I’m most excited about is spring!!!! I love spring, I love playing outside, gardening, canning, pretty much all the get-down and dirty stuff about spring lol. This year I have put together my first Unit Study for my kiddos and it revolves around Nature & Gardening. I thought I would share my process as well as 10 Steps To Creating A Homeschool Unit Study.
1. Pick a Topic
The very first thing you want to do when coming up with a unit study is picking a topic of interest! I like to plan my unit study topic either based on a season, holiday, or something my child has sparked a passion for. For example, I am currently putting together a spring Nature/Gardening Unit. I planned it to coordinate with the spring season, and I couldn’t be more excited for warmer weather!
Here are a few topic ideas:
- Nature Unit
- Garden Unit
- Bug Unit
- Tree Unit
- Ocean Unit
- Self-Love Unit
- Dinosaur Unit
- Colors Unit
- Zoo Unit
- Art Media Unit
- Human Body Unit
- Winter Unit
- Harvest Unit
- Summer/Beach Unit
- Any Holiday Unit
- Multicultural Unit
2. Find Books On Topic
Next, and most importantly, find some books! This is probably my favorite part of putting together a unit study, or any lesson for that matter lol. I love books, I am a book lady at heart, and so the majority of our information comes from books! Your child’s age may determine what kind of books you choose on your topic. For example, my kiddos are 2 and 3 1/2, so lift the flap informational books, picture books, fold-out books, and interactive books are their favorite. They are interactive, but still hold a ton of information.
Don’t be afraid to branch from your topic! For example, I started my topic with just a spring nature theme, so I got spring seasonal books. Then I thought of gardening, so I picked books on gardening and plants/flowers. My daughter is also terrified of bugs lol, so I got some books on bugs in hopes that more information on them will make them fun. (We’ll see how well that works lol) The point is to get excited, have fun, and find books that will be engaging for your kiddos!
3. How Does The Topic Relate To Life?
While reading the various books on educating kids, homeschooling, and how kids learn. I have seen it repeated, if a kid has no use for it, they won’t learn it! So try and apply what you’re learning to life right now. How is learning this going to affect your child? How can they apply it to everyday life? Why would they be interested in this topic? You need to ask questions! This is how you will truly spark your child’s love for learning.
Not only do asking questions like that help you to relate the topic to real life, but it also helps you come up with questions to ask your kids! I look through the books I have accumulated, and ask questions! These questions can be used to spark discussions, and you can even make worksheets based on these questions. You know the child is going to ask questions anyway, so you might as well direct them in an educational way!
4. Hunt Down Freebies!
Free, Free, Free! The majority of my worksheets, coloring pages, and crafts are from FREE material! Pinterest is your friend. TPT is your friend. It’s well worth the hunt, to save any chance you get. Trust me, as a homeschool mom, and I’m sure as a regular teacher, you want to save where you can. Especially when you’re the one in charge of purchasing the majority of your content! I’m a homeschooler, which means I buy all of our stuff, lol. So, I need to budget and decide where to put my money.
Printables and worksheets are some of those things I prefer to find for free if I can. My kids are young, so we really don’t use much paperwork, it’s more hands-on activities, and play. But they do love to color, paint, and craft. My daughter also loves to practice her writing skills by doing copy work. So those are the sort of things I try to find on Pinterest or TPT. We also have amazing free downloads here on ETTC! (Access Code = ETTC2020). Seriously though, there are so many free resources out there at your disposal, so take the time to hunt them down!
5. Search For Video Content
Another great resource for you is video content! This could be youtube videos, documentaries, and shows on Netflix! My kids love to watch TV, just as I’m sure most kids do. So I meet them where they are at if I can. For example, with our nature study, there are a ton of nature shows on TV and Netflix. There are the planet earth videos, and also a ton of content on youtube for them to watch. Even some cartoon nature shows, like Nature Cat on PBS. These are great for when your kids are fidgety and don’t feel like hearing you talk their ears off lol. Instead, they can listen to someone else do it, while actually seeing your topic come to life on the big screen!
I also love this Youtube Video on creating Unit Studies, it helped me a lot in making mine. She is also one of my favorite Homeschool Youtube Channel’s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INovP2gQmsw&t=18s
6. Brainstorm Activities
This is another one of my favorite parts when putting together a Unit Study. My kids THRIVE when learning hands-on, getting their hands dirty, playing educational games, and more! I love when they are having fun with activity and don’t even realize that they are learning. Learning should be fun, engaging, applicable, and an adventure. My go-to source for activities is usually Amazon if I’m being honest here..lol It’s quick, easy, and convenient. I actually put together a blog post of 15 Educational Activities Your Preschooler Will Love.
So, what do I look for in activities? I look for something that is engaging and fun, hands-on, but still educational. For example, with my Nature Unit Study here are a few things I grabbed:
- Nature Floor Puzzles
- Butterfly Growth Kit
- Outdoor Explorer Kit
- Glow-in-the-Dark Terrarium
- Bug Bingo
- Flower Bingo
- Gardening Supplies
- Starter Veggies kits
- Starter Flower kits
All of these items are related to my Unit Topic but are engaging and fun. Don’t be afraid to get creative too! Crafts are always fun. You could make home-made binoculars out of toilet paper rolls, make caterpillars out of old egg cartons, or maybe make your own ecosystem with play-do and nature finds! Seriously, the ideas are only limited to your imagination. This is probably one of my favorite steps from my 10 Steps To Creating A Homeschool Unit Study. If you have older kids, feel free to get them involved with this process. You may learn some interests they have you didn’t know about previously!
7. Purchase Supplies
This kind of ties in with #6. What supplies do I need? I like to sit down and go over all the activities, freebies, etc that I have collected and figure out what I don’t have. Write down a list as you go, keep it in your homeschool planner so you don’t forget. Then go shopping! lol
Where oh where do you get all your supplies? Again, I’m a sucker for Amazon because I don’t have to leave my house, and they are pretty quick to deliver. lol. But some other favorite places to go hunting would be Target and the Dollar Tree. Oooo! Another fun activity/place to hunt for supplies is your local Goodwill! Yes, I said it. Goodwill! Once it’s fun for you and your kids to go hunting in the unknown lol, but also you can find some cool things for a fraction of the cost. Why not make it a field trip?
8. Field Trips Are Always Fun!
See what I did there lol. I know, I know hilarious right? But seriously, plan field trips! I know it may be hard right now due to Covid, but bear with me here. You can still go on field trips! Sure you could do virtual, but with spring peeking its head out, who wants to be inside? Even my introverted self is tired of being cooped up indoors. So, what could you do? Here is a very small list of ideas, there are so many options, depending on your area, etc.
- Botanical Gardens
- The Zoo
- The Park
- Amish Country
- A River
- Nature Walk in the Woods
- Natural Foods Store
- Local Farm
- Local Orchards
- Art Museum
- History Museum
- Space Museum
- Bug Museum
Do you get my point? I could go on, and on, and on. But we don’t have all day here. So there is just a small list to give you some ideas to branch out from. My kids want to get out of the house, just as much as I do. They love going on adventures, they love discovering new places, playing in nature, and learning in new environments. So please, go on the field trip, and maybe invite some friends to tag along! However, if you do want some virtual options here are some Amazing Virtual Field Trips for Distance Learning.
9. Put It All Together
This part does not have to be complicated, in fact, I recommend not complicating it. This step will depend on how much of a planner vs. panster you are, I’m somewhere in the middle. I love paper planning, but I also like to go with the flow. So usually I plan for the week on Sundays. I use a customized plum paper planner to plan out our homeschool week in categories, so when working on a unit I disperse the activities and read-aloud throughout the week. If we’re gardening one day, I’ll tie it in with a book on how flowers grow, which is one of our favorites. If we are hunting down bugs, I’ll pair it with a book on bugs, and maybe a documentary on the discovery channel!
My #1 Tip when putting it all together is…..don’t stress it! If something pops up that messes with your plans, do something else. For example, if you planned on going to the botanical gardens, but it ended up raining. Why not have some fun at home splashing in puddles, and observe the worms coming up from the dirt! (This used to be my favorite activity as a kid, I was OBSESSED with worms lol) The point is don’t stress or feel down if plans don’t work out the way you thought, because the beauty of homeschool and learning, is it can happen no matter what! Your children are primed and ready to learn, so they will find their own way to do it 🙂
10. Have Fun!
The final and most important step is to have fun!!!! No, seriously! Make memories, enjoy the time with your kiddos, watch as they discover new ways to learn, new passions, and interests. I have only been homeschooling for about a year, and yet I have watched in amazement as my daughter has thrived in her education. The best part is, I barely had to do anything. Learning is a part of life, we learn and grow. Sure we are there to direct them, guide them, and be there for them. However, they have the ability and drive to learn mostly on their own!
So relax and enjoy the magic of homeschool, have fun putting your units together, and being creative. I love putting them together, but I love it, even more, when surprises happen! That’s where the magic of learning is, the true beauty of it. I highly recommend reading The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart. I am currently reading through it, and she has some truly amazing tips for bringing the magic to homeschool and learning!
Whatever area of study you choose, whatever topic, I hope this small blog post is helpful. I always love sharing my discoveries, and processes with you as I’m doing them myself! I hope my 10 Steps To Creating A Homeschool Unit Study helped give you some ideas and inspiration! This spring is my first unit study I have put together on my own, I may make mistakes, there may be some failures. However, the best thing about failing, is you learn from it! As always I love to hear about all your experiences and tips! So please feel free to share about them in the comments below, who knows maybe we can learn from each other.
Written by: Brittany Coleman
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