Over the last two weeks, I’ve shared with you some tips on writing your own unit studies.
I’ve saved the easiest for last: scheduling your unit.
There are several different ways to determine how long your unit should last from level of interest to amount of material to cover. Most of our units have been at least a month long, though lots of people do shorter units (I, personally wouldn’t do less than two weeks). The longest one we did was nearly three months — The American Revolution. It was longer than I’d planned, but there was a lot of material to cover and my daughter’s interest level was high, so we stuck with it for awhile.
Two simple scheduling methods to consider:
Schedule by topics within a topic – You might want to have a standard outline for certain types of units. For example, I usually spend four weeks on a country study, scheduling one week each for history, people (clothing, language), religion/industry, and animals/geography. You could split it up differently, but most of the time four weeks is plenty. For the human body, you might spend a week each on the skeletal system, the circulatory system, the reproductive system and the five senses.
Let the books decide – I’ll often schedule a unit based on the read-aloud(s) or spine books, usually using a chapter-a-day guideline. My older daughter is currently using doing a literature-based study of Ancient Rome in which she is reading bit from three books a day — one spine book, one historical fiction and one biography. She’ll do this cycle twice during the course of the study, reading a total of six books.
We’ve already established that the subject lines blur with unit studies, but it does help to keep some general guidelines in mind when you plan your days in order to make sure you’re taking a balanced approach with unit studies. For example, you’ll want to make sure that you’re doing some reading and writing each day, as well as any fun math and hands-on projects that you want to include.
Here is a sample schedule of a day from a unit we did on Native Americans:
*Read What the Native Americans Wore by Colleen Madonna Flood Williams.
*Native American people often used beads for jewelry or to decorate their clothing. Prepare beads for jewelry, as the Native Americans did. Materials: 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 1/4 cup salt, 1 cup water, 2 T. paprika. Measure all dry ingredients and put into bowl. Add water and mix until workable. Form the clay into small balls and tubes. Use different objects to add texture to beads. Push a toothpick through the centers, jiggling it around gently for the holes. Bake in 200 degree oven for an hour.
*Make a notebook page of Native American clothing for your notebook.
*Using the details given by Karana in chapter 2 of Island of the Blue Dolphins, draw a detailed map of the Island.
*Continue reading Island of the Blue Dolphins (this was our read-aloud for the unit). Discuss any unfamiliar vocabulary words prior to reading. After reading, complete any applicable study guide activities.
*Choose a tribe to begin studying more in-depth. Select one or two books from the library to use for your research. Discuss note-taking and research techniques.
*Write a how-to paragraph on making Native American-style beads.
I hope that these tips that I’ve shared in this series have made writing your own units seem less intimidating. I also hope that I’ve given you some fun ideas for unit study activities and shown you that scheduling units doesn’t have to be a difficult or overwhelming task.
If you decide to try your hand at writing your own unit studies, I hope you’ll let us know…maybe even blog about it and leave your link so we can see how much fun you had! (We’d love to be able to compile some links to put together in a post!)
For more ramblings from this classically eclectic, slightly Charlotte Mason homeschooling mom, visit Kris at her blog, Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
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