Using Unit Studies

Unit studies are a wonderful method of education, because they saturate the student with information about a particular topics from as many angles as possible, using a wide variety of sensory input and teaching methods.  This ensures the greatest retention of the material by the learner.

I LOVE unit studies!  And, my kids love unit studies!  I have used a variety of teaching methods and approaches in my 8 years of homeschooling, but every so often I "take stock" of my children's enjoyment of learning by asking them to tell me some of the things that they remember the most in the past few years of school, or what some of their favorite subjects were.  WITHOUT EXCEPTION, they always tell me something that we studied by using a unit study.   

Unit studies sound complicated to some people, and they did to me when I first heard of them some years back as well.  But the fears that many have of unit studies are completely unfounded!  Unit studies are simply taking a particular topic, era, event, or person and wrapping all of your learning around that topic (except for math and some skill-specific language arts), using a variety of activities - totally saturating the children in that topic, from every angle. 

For example, if you are studying Lewis and Clark, you could incorporate:

History - by looking at the time period in which the expedition took place and other events occurring simultaneously, reading about famous people of that era (such as Thomas Jefferson, Sacagawea, etc., and plotting the expedition and it's milestones on a timeline.
Geography - by mapping out the Louisiana Purchase and charting the expeditions travels on a map
Social Studies - by looking at the Native American tribes that the crew encountered on their journey and experiencing the rigors of their trip through various activities
Science - by keeping a nature journal and studying the various flora and fauna that was also a part of the expedition's objectives
Creative Writing - by keeping a journal as if you were a crew member traveling with Lewis and Clark or writing a story about the expedition from the perspective of Sacagawea or another crew member
Spelling and Grammar - by going through the actual journals of Lewis and Clark and proofreading and editing their HORRIBLE grammar and spelling errors
Vocabulary - by keeping a list of definitions of terms that you encounter during your study
Bible - by discussing the spiritual lives of Lewis and Clark and watching the sovereign hand of God as the country expanded.  Depending on your children's ages, you can also engage them in discussion and debate over the positive and negative moral characteristics of the crew, their responses to crises they encountered and their dealings with the native peoples - from a biblical perspective.
Math - While I recommend using a standard math curriculum during any unit study, there will still be opportunity to practice math through activities such as calculating supplies needed for the expedition.

Another reason that I love and believe in unit studies, is because so often I see that this is the method God uses to teach me, and all His children.  Do you ever notice that your most profound life lessons are not learned in the mere reading of His textbook - the Bible?  Rather they are learned in the times when He takes the Truths found in that textbook, and your general knowledge of them, and begins to wrap that lesson intricately throughout all aspects of your life.  Haven't you ever had times when no matter what book you picked up, or who was preaching, or what radio station you turned to, or what friend you called - all the messages were the same?  Welcome to God's unit studies!  :-)  He has a way of making our learning multi-sensory and multi-angled.  And don't you understand the lesson best that way - and retain the most from it?

So, do your children! 

So, take the plunge!  Dive in and enjoy teaching your children the way God enjoys teaching you.  He'll help you learn - He promises that.

If you have specific questions about how to do a unit study, or how to use one of SDGR's studies, email me through our contact page.  I'd be happy to help you on your journey!

For His Glory!

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