How to Plan a Unit Study – Homeschool Planning
I shared in our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum and Scheduling posts that we use unit studies for Science and History. This approach appealed to me for a few reasons. First, I don’t think buying a History and Science Curriculum is really necessary for Kindergarten. Most importantly, unit studies are fun! To plan a unit study – pick out what you want to learn about, find books, activities, and videos about that topic and enjoy.
Picking out a Unit Study Topic
This could be as simple as picking something of interest and going with it. In Pre-K, we did a miniature study on dogs. 🙂
I used the What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know as a guide. I went through the table of contents and wrote down the topics covered in the book. Then divide those up into our 5-week schooling sessions.
Don’t have a Kindergartener? The “What Your ——– Needs to Know” book is offered for all grade levels.
Home Learning Year by Year is another resource. I do not have this book, but I see it recommended often in the homeschool communities.
For example – We are homeschooling year round. 5 weeks on 1 week off. We will have a total of 8 sessions (5 week periods) during our school year.
I took the all the topics from What your Kindergartener Needs to Know and created a theme for each schooling session.
Our Unit Study Themes
Science – Unit Studies
1 (weeks 1-5) Seeds & Plants
2 (weeks 6-10) Land Animals
3 (weeks 11-17) All About Me & Health
4 (weeks 18-20) Sea Animals
5 (weeks 21-24) Seasons
6 (weeks 25-28) Survival Skills and Magnetic Energy
7 (weeks 29-33) Taking care of the Earth
8 (weeks 34-37) I left this one open. Allowing flexibility – for my daughter’s interest or something else I want to cover or if we get behind. The built-in flexibility it good. 🙂
History – Unit Studies
1 (weeks 1-5) Community Helpers – Intro to our state and US
2 (weeks 6-10) Geography – Maps – US Map – Begin learning the 50 states
3 (weeks 11-17) Native Americans
4 (weeks 18-20) Early Exploration
5 (weeks 21-24) Early Exploration & Early America
6 (weeks 25-28) Famous Presidents & Symbols
7 (weeks 29-33) Continents & World History
8 (weeks 34-37) Again – Left open for my daughter’s interest or if we get behind on a study.
What are your goals or objectives for each unit study?
When searching ideas online or Pinterest to plan a unit study, it helps to know your objectives. What do you want your child to know about that topic? This does not have to be all scary detailed and checklist style. Just an idea. Knowing the types of learning you want helps you sift through all of the options online.
Do not stress over this…it does not have to be perfect. You are not going to ruin their education if you miss an “important checklist.” I had to repeat this to my perfectionist self that was afraid I might ruin my kindergartener’s future if I left out some vital piece of history. It’s ok!
If you can’t come up with very many objectives, that’s ok too. As you start looking for activities online you will come up with some ideas.
For me, it always starts with the books. What can I say? I love books. All homeschoolers do, right?!
The first unit study I planned I looked at all the recommended books online first. I planned my whole unit study around those books, then I went to the library to check out planned books. My library didn’t have over half of them. So, I had to backtrack. Not fun.
Here’s what I would recommend…
#1 – Pull the books that you already have.
#2 – When you’re used book shopping (I see you at the Goodwill too. 🙂 keep in mind your unit studies and grab any books that relate
- this is done before your unit studies begin…you don’t want the pressure of searching them out in the middle of your study.
#3 – Search your library’s online catalog.
- I can look at my library’s catalog online from home. I search by subject and find interesting books that I want us to read. Or you can search for specific book titles.
#4 – Look at online book lists
• Pinterest has book lists for pretty much any topic. You can see my Pinterest boards here. If there are books that you must read – make a note of them – double check your library catalog – if they don’t have it, consider purchasing it on Amazon.
- I try to use my library as much as possible. Buying a bunch of books can get expensive. We buy almost all of our books used at goodwill or Amazon.
Create a Pinterest Board
• Search Pinterest for your topic. Pin anything related to that board.
• Printables, Experiments, Art, Book lists. Pinterest has all of this, and you can organize it by your unit study theme.
• Another great resource for Printables and activities.
• I usually change the search option to “free”. Then select your grade level and search your topic. You can pin the resources you like to Pinterest or, since they’re free, go ahead and download them.
• My absolutely favorite resource for younger kids is Faith4lly Homemade. She doesn’t have very many free products, but her curriculum and activities are great!
Putting it all together.
You have all your information gathered and resources at our fingertips. What now?
Some homeschoolers leave it there and just choose from the list as they go.
I’ve tried that, and it didn’t work for me. It created more and more decisions I had to make on the daily. I didn’t like that. I wanted it already decided and planned and ready to go…less thinking…less stress.
Plan Your Weeks
• Group your books together by topic covered.
• Using your objectives for the Unit Study as a guide, pick a book out per day and select 1-2 activities that match up with that book topic.
• Pick a book for the day
• 1-2 activities per day that correlate with the book
• Repeat that process for how many days you do your unit study per week. Then plan out the rest of your unit study session. It takes so much less time to do it all at once, and you don’t have to think about it anymore. Yay!
Prep your activities
• Print and prep all the activities you will complete during the session. We use so much paper and ink as homeschoolers, huh?
• Be sure to make yourself a note if you need any supplies for the activity. If you want to be super ahead of the game, go ahead and buy all the supplies for your full unit study on your next town/ errand day.
Decide your library routine.
• We go to the library every two weeks and get all the books we need for the next two weeks. This means we always have what we need, and we don’t get any library fines….usually. lol.
• We use Kristi Clover’s Crate System. Although, I do not have all of the work for the whole year in there. I’m just not that far ahead. haha.
• Basically – you create one folder for every week of the school year and place all the work for the week in there.
• After I prep the printables and activities, I place them in the corresponding week. They’re all ready to go. Yay!
• I’ve added to Kristi’s system by creating a “this week” hanging folder with vanilla folders numbered 1-5 (for the days of the week.) Again, fewer decisions.
• On Sunday, I separate that weeks work into the daily folders. So, I’m not going through the weekly papers over and over trying to figure out what we are going to do that day. Ahh…
That’s it friends.
You now have a full unit study planned, prepped, and ready to go. 🙂
I hope this was helpful!
Do you use Unit Studies in your homeschool?
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