In the last post, I wrote about using unit studies in the homeschool. In this post (part 2), I want to write in a more practical way and show exactly how a unit study can be accomplished.

How can I plan a unit of study?
Let’s consider a unit on ‘Ancient Eygpt“, a unit that we spent several months on and thoroughly enjoyed. The older child could read a biography or (fictional) diary and then orally narrate to the rest of the family. Or, she could try a written narration or prepare a factual report on a character or event. The younger child could dress up and role play or act out a scene from a book. The family could make recipes or crafts, draw and diagram maps, watch videos and visit museums together. You may like to look at the diet of the people and subsequent problems (deficiency’s, illness etc), to the terrain and climate of lands explored, other cultures that influenced or impacted Ancient Egypt (now, there’s a long rabbit trail) and so on.

Some people say that this is too hotch potch for them and they would like a more chronological or systematic approach. Easy! You can study history chronologically and integrate your other subjects around that. Some people prefer to only use units for the Social Studies and keep Math?s and English (Language Arts) separate. This is fine too. Whatever works for your family.

Here are the subjects that I try to include when thinking of relating topics:

Bible, Literature, History, Science, Language or Vocabulary, Independent Reading (Fiction and non-fiction, biographies, diaries), Composition or various forms of Narration, Poetry, Copywork, Applied Math, Foreign Language (if at all applicable), Art Appreciation, Music Appreciation, Geography, Current Events, and craft or hands-on activities.

Maybe an example will help you too see what it can look like.

Ancient Egypt

Bible (Joseph & Moses),
Literature (Golden Goblet, Mara, Daughter of the Nile)
Poetry – Ozymandias
(culture and times of Ancient Egyptians)
Narration of reading and other learning
Applied math– structure of pyramids
Foreign Language– (hieroglyphics) No, I’m not kidding
Art- Ancient Egyptian artwork and architecture-reading about it and trying it yourself
Music – instruments and celebrations
Geography– ancient – modern -drawing/tracing maps including landforms and landmarks.
Craft– dressing up, making Egyptian style sandals, Nile River models, model pyramids.

Now, if all this seems too complicated, let me assure you that it isn’t. Your local library should have plenty of books on these topics. Just have them in the lounge room and let the children peruse them and be prepared to go with their excitement! One thing I find that kills this excitement is a feeling or sense of “Quickly, let’s hurry up and finish this topic so that we can move on“. That sentiment is really like a wet blanket.

If you?re a beginner at incorporating subjects you could just try to start with a few simple ones. Choose a family read aloud to go along with your history study and look at a good book that relates to the artwork or architecture of the period. That’s it to start with, but I can fairly confidently assure you that it won’t end there. History and geography go well together and from there you can start to add in art, music and literature.

I hope this encourages other homeschooling families, to live and learn together.

Go to Part One | Part Two

Susan 2002