Curiosity sparks learning. It lights a fire that drives us to dig deeper and learn as much as we can. Unit studies allow us to take full advantage of that curiosity and use it to fuel all kinds of learning.
Why are unit studies ideal for making the most out of your child’s interests? Because unit studies incorporate multiple subjects with a central theme. For our purposes, the theme is whatever we’re curious about or interested in at the time. Do your kids love Harry Potter, Bear Grylls, or video games? Then get ready to discover how unit studies can help you turn their interests into homeschool unit studies they’ll remember.
How Homeschooling Unit Studies Work
Homeschooling unit studies can be done in different ways. Sometimes a unit study lasts only a week, other times we spend more than a month with the same unit study theme. The length of the unit study depends a lot on your child’s interest level.
At the Waldock Way, unit studies typically include history, science, geography, art, and music. You can include other subjects like math and language arts too. For us, it’s easier to keep those subjects separate. However, we often incorporate games and activities with fun math and reading elements.
We use techniques like our morning basket, my unit study planner, strewing, book lists, and game schooling to capture our daughter’s interest and dive deep into the subject in all kinds of fun ways. Here’s what a typical day of homeschooling with interest-led unit studies looks like at our house:
Strewing is all about leaving things out for your child to discover and explore. It’s a technique that cultivates curiosity and helps get kids in the mindset for learning before the day even begins. As a homeschooling mom, strewing gives me the time I need in the morning to get ready for the day, thaw something for supper, and have my cup of coffee.
Morning baskets are flexible and it’s ok if yours doesn’t end up looking like our morning baskets. Lots of homeschooling moms fill their baskets with books, quiet activities, and games.
It’s easy to theme morning baskets for whatever unit study you’re currently studying. They’re perfect for tailoring to your child’s latest interests or an upcoming holiday. We’re such a big fan of the morning basket that we created a bedtime basket too.
Like most homeschoolers, we do school all over the house. Lessons happen in all kinds of places, but some things are just easier to do at the table. Activities like handwriting and worksheets tend to work better at the table.
Some homeschool families avoid using screens in their lessons, but we like to take advantage of technology and use it to get the most out of our interest-led unit studies. Usually, during lunchtime, I put on an educational show or documentary for our daughter to watch.
We love using games to teach different skills and concepts in our homeschool. There are so many fun games that match up well with a variety of unit studies. We love creating trivia and scavenger hunts to match our interest-led unit studies too.
There are tons of apps and video games you can use as a part of your homeschool too. Minecraft is an amazing STEM tool you can use to match a wide variety of lessons and unit studies. Check out the app store on your phone or tablet for all kinds of homeschooling ideas.
Examples of Units Studies That Work with Your Child’s Interests
I keep saying unit studies are perfect for exploring your child’s interests, but how exactly do we do it at The Waldock Way? Check out one of our favorites below for an example of making unit studies work with your child’s interests using our Survival Unit Study.
A Step By Step Walk Though Of A Sample Study
1. Bear Grylls Adventure Books
These books serve as the spine for our survival unit study. If your kids are fascinated by Bear Grylls or his TV shows, his children’s adventure series is a lot of fun to explore! I built this survival unit study around his books. His books are fun adventure tales for kids that explore various wilderness situations like blizzards, caves, and volcanoes.
2. Bear Grylls Biography
The first lesson in our survival unit study is all about Bear Grylls himself. It’s a great opportunity for kids who dream of being a survivalist to learn more about the expert.
I’ve added discussion questions which we use to check for reading comprehension and dig deeper into the topic together. Plus, there’s a QR code that leads to a biography video for even more learning fun and a Biography Worksheet for handwriting practice and reading comprehension.
3. Coloring Pages
I love including coloring pages in our unit studies too. Coloring is fun and relaxing. Plus, it’s a great way to keep little hands busy while you read. Kids can color related pages while you read aloud from the adventure books or biography page.
4. Survival Challenges
Each survival challenge includes videos, reading assignments, and activities to explore a variety of survival skills and topics with your kids throughout this unit study. From youtube playlists to games to hands-on activities your kids will be learning survival skills and exploring geography along the way with Bear Grylls. It’s the perfect interest-led unit study for any survivalist.
Why Unit Studies are Ideal for Interest-led Learning
Unit studies offer the opportunity to dive deep into the subjects your kids are interested in and curious about. You can spend an entire year studying Ancient Egypt or Harry Potter with all kinds of fun lessons that incorporate every subject area without missing a beat. Unit studies are ideal for interest-led learning with your kids. Here are my top 5 reasons why:
Interest led unit studies give the whole family the opportunity to learn about something one child is interested in. It’s a great way to connect with your kids and spend quality time learning about the things they’re passionate about.
They spark curiosity. When your kids are curious about a new idea or topic, they want to dig deeper and learn more. You might begin by learning about Vikings because of a cartoon they were interested in and finish by discovering a fascination with ships and maritime history.
Themed unit studies help get kids interested in subjects they don’t normally enjoy and make it more fun to complete assignments they would otherwise be reluctant to engage in. For example, kids that hate math might suddenly be willing to complete the math needed for a Harry Potter spell or to discover a hidden Egyptian tomb.
Interest led unit studies offer kids the chance to take control of their learning while parents become curators. It’s an opportunity to explore our ultimate goal of creating lifelong learners.
Finally, interest led unit studies can offer you the chance to learn more about topics you might never have covered in school. You can build in more art, handicrafts, and life skills during unit studies. It’s a fantastic opportunity for you to explore and learn together as a family.
Are you ready to incorporate interest-led unit studies into your homeschool this year? I hope I’ve encouraged you to explore some of the exciting opportunities that come from following your child’s natural curiosity as you plan your next lesson!
Awesome Unit Studies Ready Made for You
(a note from Colleen)
If you’re in love with the idea of interest-led unit studies, but uncertain about creating your own unit studies, I want to encourage you to definitely check out some of the awesome, ready made unit studies at The Waldock Way. Jessica does all the hard work for you by putting together complete unit studies with resources, planners, book lists, and activities your kids can enjoy and learn from.
Interested in some ready made unit studies? We love her Who Was History unit studies based on the popular biographical book series for kids. She has everything you need to get started!
Even better, The Waldock Way is having a summer sale!
Right now you can get 30% off everything including Passports to Adventure, Holidays Around the World, the Survival Unit Study, and Wizards & Wands curriculum.
Jessica Waldock is a writer, photographer, and homeschool mom of one living in sunny Florida. She founded The Waldock Way as a way to give back to the homeschool community that she loves so much. At The Waldock Way Jessica shares tips, tricks, inspiration, and unique resources that help ignite a love of learning in children that will last a lifetime. She inspires families to engage in homeschooling as a lifestyle where relationships come first and interested led learning prevails. Jessica also has a fabulous collection of unit studies on her website and shares generously on her YouTube channel.