Unit studies are part of the homeschool lexicon. You may have heard of the "unit studies" method, "unit studies families," and "unit studies moms." But what exactly are unit studies? Over the coming weeks here on the Silverdale Press blog, we are going to be doing a series about unit studies.
Unit studies are a way to approach homeschooling. They are a method, just like classical or Charlotte Mason, though unit studies can also incorporate these approaches. Unit studies are a way or organizing homeschooling material in a way that is much more flexible and integrated than the public and private school systems' subject-by-subject approach.
Unit studies begin with a topic.
Unit studies begin with a topic. The topic can be anything. The topic can be a historical era like the Great Depression, World War II, or ancient Egypt. It can be a good book or series like the Chronicles of Narnia. It could be science or nature topic, like building a pollinator garden. Your unit study topic could be chocolate, Leonardo DaVinci, or Canada. The key idea is that everything flows from the topic.
Unit studies cover a range of subjects or one main subject.
Unit studies can include a variety of subjects. All the subjects will then relate back to the main unit study topic. There can be fiction reading, non-fiction reading, and primary sources. Depending on the age of the students, they can read independently or the family can read aloud together. It is easy to include language arts in unit studies by curating a vocabulary list from the reading and assigning copywork and dictation from the literature. Fine art and music are often easy to bring in, as are electives such as cooking skills. Field trips, movies, trips to historic sites, and a variety of hands-on activities will also naturally flow from the topic.
Unit studies can emphasize one subject more than others. A unit study on the Great Depression lends itself to social studies, since it is a historical period; whereas, a unit study on DaVinci would lend itself to fine art. For example, at Silverdale Press, our flagship Presidential Election Unit Study is geared primarily toward social studies, while our unit study series on U.S. presidents, great Americans, and holiday traditions includes a wide range of subjects, including social studies, language arts, fine art, and elective.
If science does not fit naturally into whatever unit study you are current doing, plan to do a separate unit study that emphasizes science. For example, do a unit study on pollinator gardens while doing a broader one on Anne of Green Gables.
What about math?
While math certainly can be incorporated into unit studies, most unit studies parents recommend sticking with a sequential math curriculum that is unrelated to the unit study.
Next time, we'll look at the "who" of unit studies.