In this third and final article in the Using the Unit Study Approach series, I want to share a few miscellaneous thoughts on unit study documentation as well as some resources for good unit studies.
How Long Should A Unit Study Last?
As long as it you want it to! Depending on the ages of your children and their level of interest in the topic you are exploring, you could spend anywhere from one week to several months on a unit study. My children are ages three, five, and eight years old, and on average we spend two to four weeks on a given topic. This past year our study of Colonial Times lasted for two months because everyone was enjoying it so much.
I also wanted to mention that I try to vary the kinds of units we do. Instead of studying two social studies topics in a row, I try to alternate science with social studies. We might study Westward Expansion, then The Solar System, then China, and then Reptiles. You don’t have to schedule your studies this way, but it has kept interest levels high in our family.
Keeping a Record of Unit Study Adventures
We’ve documented our studies through lapbooking, notebooking, and scrapbooking, but you can organize your materials in whatever way works best for you.
Things we’ve included in our books:
- Written work such as creative writing, mini-books, labeled diagrams, written reports
- Drawings and other artwork
- Mementos and brochures from field trips
- Pictures, pictures, pictures! A camera is a homeschooling Mom’s best friend. We’ve included photos of artwork and hands-on projects, students dressed in costume, any cooking we’ve done, field trips, and more.
- Reading lists
The children help with arranging and adhering things into their books. The responsibility of putting these together will eventually become completely theirs as they grow older.
I also like to keep a running list of the topics we’ve covered over the years. This helps me to make sure we cover everything that we need to over time.
- Five in a Row is a delightful, literature-based curriculum that I have reviewed here.
- Amanda Bennett has written many terrific studies on a wide variety of topics. She includes a lot of internet links in her studies that enable you and your children to see the world through the click of your mouse. You can read a review of the Garden Unit Study here.
- NaturExplorers is line of nature-based unit studies. Cindy West at Our Journey Westward has written some wonderful studies on topics such as clouds, wildflowers, ponds, animal tracks, and many more. I have reviewed the Frogs and Toads unit here in the near future. In the meantime I think you’ll enjoy perusing their offerings.
- Homeschool Share is a collective of wonderful, free resources written by homeschool Moms like you and me. They offer oodles of unit studies, lapbooking and notebooking resources, and more. If you’ve never visited Homeschool Share, you’re in a for a real treat!
Be sure to check out this Homeschool Unit Studies post that includes TONS of resources from the personal sites of some of our Authors.
Will we always use unit studies? I would like to think so. I don’t know what our schooling will look like in five years, but for now unit studies are a great fit for my teaching style and my children’s learning styles. They have also been a wonderful way to fan the flame of learning in my children. I do know that whatever methods we choose throughout our homeschool career, I want our children to be excited about learning.
If you decide to embark on a unit study adventure of your own, I encourage you to have fun making memories, take lots of pictures, and enjoy those precious moments with your children.
More on Unit Studies
Be sure to check out all 3 articles in the Using the Unit Study Approach series:
Also COMING SOON! Our Ultimate Guide to Using Unit Studies in Your Homeschool.
Originally Published August 2009, Written by Shannon