We love unit studies in our house!
Even when we use a textbook we add so much "stuff" that is could be labeled a unit study. We have always built our school around living books, well-written books that are wholesome and interesting to read. If you want to take the unit study plunge, then I recommend starting with living books as the core of your unit study.
This is a two-part post. Today we will talk about choosing your topic and books. In the next post, we'll focus on adding all the bells and whistles to make it a unit study.
The best thing about unit studies is that the whole family can learn together!
Step # 1 Choose a Topic
Start with a topic that interests the entire family. Your son might love rockets and trains, but your daughter would rather learn about butterflies or flowers.
Try to find topics that appeal to everyone. What about studying oceans, birds, knights & castles, kings & queens, Robin Hood, King Arthur, Colonial times, The Alamo, traveling west in a covered wagon, inventions, or trees?
You can choose the topic and share the topic enthusiastically with your children. Or you can make a list and let the children choose a topic.
Step #2 Choose Living Books
Look for books that practically breathe and talk. Remember books that you loved as a child—those books you read over and over again? Look for living books and when choosing books for young children, the illustrations are as important as the book itself.
So what kind of books should you look for?
No one is ever too old for a beautifully illustrated, well-written picture book. We have discovered some lovely picture books over the years as we have enjoyed learning with unit studies.
Picture books appeal to all ages. We have found some great picture books that are for older children, teens, and adults such as Gilgamesh the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean, The Library of Alexandria by Kelly Trumble, and The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lasky.
Non-Fiction Living Books to Read Aloud
Instead of using a textbook, you can glean information from LIVING BOOKS. Children can read these books by themselves or listen to mom read them aloud. Old Landmark books are great to read aloud for history, as well as Master Books for science.
We love two Christian books written about both the spiritual body and the human body: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Surgeon Looks at the Human and Spiritual Body and In His Image: The Sequel to Fearfully and Wonderfully Made by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancy. These books wove spiritual truths together with scientific facts. We remember both science and inspirational Truth!
Don't assume that all textbooks are dry. Our favorite textbook is Mystery of History by Linda Hobar. She brings history to life with little known stories and trivia that are exciting for everyone!
The Adventure of Paddy the Beaver is just one of many books by Thornton Burgess. These stories introduce us to different animals with charm and quirks. Hidden underneath these delightful story lines are a wealth of information about animals. They are wonderful books for young readers and great read alouds for science unit studies.
This is my favorite part of history! I always assign historical fiction to history, geography, and Bible classes. Historical fiction makes a time period come alive. It takes us past dates, facts, and battles into the hearts and lives of people.
The Bronze Bow by Elisabath Speare is set in the time of Christ. Teens will enjoy Ben Hur set in the same time period.
When I was in elementary school, I read EVERY SINGLE Childhood of Famous Americans series biographies in our school library. Imagine my delight when my youngest son fell in love with them too! Easy to read for new readers, but entertaining and full of interesting facts, these books are great additions to any unit study.
You can also use original documents and books that changed the world.
The Best Book of All!
The Bible is packed with information about every subject! It has something to say about economics, government, history, sociology, psychology, family living, and communication. Scripture contains histories, poetry, adventure stories, romance, and prophecies about the future! More than that, the Bible is God's Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Word of God has power to change lives, to transform nations! Always include Scripture in your unit studies! Get God's perspective on everything!
Here's a quick taste of different topics addressed in The Holy Bible:
Resource: Quick & EZ Unit Study Fun
Unit studies create memories, impart knowledge, and let all ages learn together. If you want to learn more about unit studies, Quick and EZ Unit Study Fun is a great resource to help you put together your own units with books lists, topic ideas, suggestions, tips, forms, and all kinds of creative fun. Quick and EZ Unit Study Fun is available at Amazon. The E-book is available at PayHip and Currclick.
Please let me know how you if you take the unit study plunge and how you like it by commenting below. Until next time, continue to enjoy a lifetime and lifestyle of learning with your family!