Need homeschool unit studies ideas for theme learning approach and hands-on homeschool curriculum, incorporating a variety of subjects and topics like math, science, language arts, and social sciences? You’ll learn: what are unit studies as a homeschool method or style of homeschooling and how to write your own learning unit, even using free homeschool resources for free unit studies for kindergarten / preschool and up! (YES, even middles school and high school aged student theme units!)
Homeschool Unit Studies Ideas: What Is a Unit Method?
If you’re looking for unit studies ideas, you’ve come to the right place! You can build theme units based on your homeschooling needs — from secular homeschool unit studies, to Christian homeschool units, to science only learning units and more!
One of the (many) great things about homeschooling is that you have the ability to tailor studies to how a homeschooler learns.
And, unit studies, sometimes called a unit approach, are great ways to tailor learning to any learning style, age, or level of learning.
Learning with study units can be one of the easiest homeschool curriculum for parents and kids (once you get the hang of it) because your child picks a topic and you base learning around that topic.
What is the unit study method of learning?
The unit study, also called student interest led learning or topic-based learning, is a very relaxed homeschooling style where learning is based around a specific topic or theme. Within that topic, you incorporate math, grammar, science, reading, spelling, writing, or any other learning or homeschool requirements you must meet. Once you’ve exhausted the studies for that topic, you move onto another topic, often chosen by your homeschooler.
What is the purpose of a unit plan?
A unit study plan allows children to meet all the required competencies within one specific topics. Studying one theme creates a cohesive picture for students and allows them to get comprehensive and thorough learning on one topic that incorporates basic subject requirements.
Advantages of Unit Plan
Benefits of unit plans include:
- Content and themes are the main focus, allowing for comprehensive learning
- Subjects like math, language arts, and science can be presented in fun and interesting ways
- Allows for kids to spend more time learning a subject instead of just hitting testing requirements
- Focuses on children’s interests
- Gives children a say in what they want to learn
- Allows variety in learning activities, which helps to fight boredom in kids
- Facilitates interactive learning with time for questions
- Inspires additional and adjacent learning topics
- Helps when you homeschool kids of different ages and can teach one topic
What is unit approach?
A unit study method is sometimes called a unit approach. These education terms are synonymous and both mean incorporating several course subjects into one theme or topic. For example, a unit approach may decide to cover desert plants and animals. Within that theme or topic, you incorporate writing/language arts, science, math, and other subjects that are centered around that topic.
What are thematic units?
Unit studies are also sometimes called thematic units, interdisciplinary studies, and integrated studies. They all mean that a theme or topic of study is chosen and then all subjects are incorporated into that theme. You can use thematics units preschool and up!
Unit studies are also sometimes referred to as all-in-one programs for homeschooling when looking at homeschool curriculum reviews and resource information.
What is the difference between lesson plan and unit plan?
A lesson plans focuses on how to meet the objective for one lesson. A unit plan focuses on one topic, but incorporates many different lessons covering different topics like science, writing, spelling, math, and more. Also, lesson plans are generally shorter and have finite finish dates. Unit plans are often spread out over a longer period of time and sometimes don’t even finish until kids feel like the topic has been exhausted and want to move on to a new theme unit.
We’ll talk about how to create free unit studies homeschool for the unit studies homeschooling style. Don’t miss it! KEEP SCROLLING!
How Do Unit Studies Work?
Unit studies work by first starting with a topic (or theme) that your child is interested in and then building learning around that topic (or theme). They are great from Pre K unit of study all the way through high school!
How do you create a unit study?
Steps of unit plan for unit studies made easy:
- Discuss interests with your students and decide on a topic.
- Research and gather resources on the topic. Use the library, free printables, audiobooks, Netflix, documentaries, museums, and more!
- Think of ways to incorporate subjects like math, language arts, writing, etc. into the topic.
- Plan local activities and field trips to support learning about the topic.
- Allow for lateral / adjacent learning topics, where similar topics expand and support the initial topic.
- Get creative! Create art or crafts that showcase what the students have learned.
- Don’t put time constraints or an ending date! Allow all the learning to happen about a topic until the kids are ready to move on.
- When you are ready to move on, think of a fun final project. For example, if you studied a specific country maybe you make a meal of authentic cuisine from that country.
- Start the process over with a new topic.
How long should a unit study last?
The great thing about a unit study is that it lasts as long as your learners need to exhaust the topic. For some topics, you may find they are only interested for a couple of weeks. For other topics, the unit study may last a month or so. Don’t rush it! The best homeschool unit studies allow children to work through the topic at their own pace until they’re reading to move on.
ALSO CHECK OUT: How many hours a day should I homeschool my child?
How do you write a unit study?
According to Myers and Myers, there are six components of a unit study:
- Determine goals and objectives
- Choose content
- Determine instruction method
- Connect learning activities to experiences
- Determine resources
- Choose assessment methods
Although your homeschooling unit studies may a bit more relaxed, this is a great framework to follow if you like an educational goals checklist.
Homeschool Unit Studies Ideas: Example of a Unit Study
Let’s say your homeschoolers are interested in hot air balloons.
As an example of a unit studies on hot air balloons you can:
- Read about the history and basics regarding hot air balloons.
- Watch documentaries on hot air balloons.
- Make and fly your own mini hot air balloon.
- Calculate the lift of hot air balloons and the chemistry behind how they fly.
- Visit a hot air balloon festival or museum with a hot air balloon exhibit.
- Paint or color hot air balloon pictures.
- Write a research paper or story about hot air balloons.
& MANY OTHER creative ideas that are only limited by your family’s imagination!
You can even create summer unit studies on interesting summer themes to carry you into the school year!
Before we go any further, let’s pause and take a look at learning styles and why unit studies are not just a good fit individual students, but also for different learning styles, juggling homeschooling multiple ages. and teaching multiple grade levels.
Like, can you do unit studies for kindergarten?
Yes! (And many other ages and stages!)
How To Plan a Homeschool Unit Study
Why Unit Studies Are a Perfect Fit for Homeschooling Different Ages and Learning Styles
If you’re new to homeschooling, it may take a little while to figure out how your children learn (or, learning styles).
Are they more visual where they have to see something before it clicks?
Are they auditory learners where they can just listen and effectively learn?
Are they more kinesthetic or tactile, where they like to do activities or move around while learning?
Or, maybe a mix?
ALSO, each of your children may learn very differently!
(Yep. That makes things super easy. I know. ::wink::)
So, engaging your children in learning can be difficult, especially if you are homeschooling multiple kids of different ages and have kids who all have different learning styles and preferences.
Now what are you supposed to do?
Enter: Unit Studies
If you’re looking for a way to get your child more engaged in their studies, try out the homeschool unit study method (also called topic-based study).
Like we talked about earlier, the cool thing about unit studies is that they can be student directed, which gives your child a sense of control and investment in their learning.
(Plus, they get to pick cool stuff they like to learn about!)
And, you have the ability to guide the topic to how your kids best learn!
Let’s say your child wants to learn more about dinosaurs, but hates to read and loathes worksheets.
It doesn’t make sense to buy a bunch of dinosaur books and torture your kid by having her just sit and read about dinosaurs.
Instead, with a unit study, you build your learning around dinosaurs and how your child best learns.
Maybe you watch documentaries on dinosaurs, make a dinosaur diorama, label the bones on a dinosaur poster, figure out what dinosaurs ate and make some dinosaur recipes, and more. That’s how unit studies work successfully!
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Homeschooling with Unit Studies
Building a Unit Studies Homeschool Curriculum
[DON’T MISS FREE UNIT STUDY IDEAS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST. KEEP SCROLLING!]
Building your own unit study can be a lot of work because you have to figure out the topic, do all the research, find resources for the topic, and schedule the unit.
However, once you get the hang of creating a homeschool unit study topic, then it gets a lot easier.
I actually think it’s really fun to put together unit studies that get your kids excited.
(So, the extra work is worth it!)
Also, I think this method is also one of the best (and most fun!) ways to learn in homeschooling!
If you really want to get your children interested, ask them what topic they want to study and build a study unit around it!
So, how to plan a homeschool unit study?
Here’s how to create a study unit and some ideas to get you started:
How to Create a Unit Study: DIY Unit Study Steps
1. With your child, decide on a topic of interest.
Talk to your kids about what they want to learn or start with something you know that interests them—Lego bricks, cooking, sand castles or anything that appeals to their natural interests.
If you have more than one homeschooler, rotate their topics of choice or come to an agreement on a learning theme.
2. Determine your requirements.
Are you covering math, science, spelling, etc.?
Are there specific state requirements or reporting that you must meet for your state homeschooling laws?
3. Find your homeschool resources.
Search online for lesson plans, activities, crafts, worksheets, videos, coloring sheets, and recipes on your topic.
Make a list, bookmark pages or print out the things that are helpful for your learning on the topic.
For example, search the internet for “hot air balloon lesson activities” and note the things that would be of interest to your kids.
TRY THESE HOMESCHOOL RESOURCES THAT WE USE AND LOVE:
4. Loosely plan and schedule your unit studies.
I say loosely because in homeschooling you have the opportunity to adapt and change as you need, and that is especially important when brainstorming homeschool unit studies ideas.
Be sure to allow yourself that flexibility or you may miss out on some fantastic learning opportunities!
5. Reserve books from the library on the topic.
Don’t forget about library resources. Get your kids involved in finding and researching books at the library that interest them within your theme unit topic.
6. Plan field trips.
Don’t forget to get hands-on with your learning! And, getting out and about is a great way to learn. Are there local attractions that you can visit include with your homeschool unit studies ideas?
7. Have fun!
One of the best parts of learning with unit studies are that they are super fun! Your kids are engaged because they are learning topics of interest.
Homeschool unit studies can truly breathe a breath of fresh air back into your learning!
Where To Get Ideas for Free Unit Studies Resources
You can easily create homeschool unit studies free using:
- Library for books and audiobooks
- Amazon Prime movies and documentaries
- Learning channels like History Channel, Discovery and NatGeo
- Search online for free printables or free unit study printables or reviews of unit studies
- Local travel centers (grab the brochures of historic sites near you and build unit studies around those)
- Free homeschool days at local businesses
- Free museum days
- Park and nature learning centers
Homeschool Unit Study Ideas
Want to get other homeschool unit study ideas that are already prepared?
(This is a great way to go, especially if you’re just starting out with this method or new to homeschooling.)
Check out these unit study or topic-based resources.