Unit studies can be a lot of work, but they don’t have to be! Today I thought I would share a few not so complicated ways to pull together a unit, just by gathering a few ingredients. While we have done units based around a topic, book, person, or historical event I have found many of our favorite units begin the same way: We find a good book to read aloud together. This may be a picture book, such as A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle, a biography, or a chapter book, such as our current unit: My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. Today my examples will be from our current unit on My Side of the Mountain.
Once we find a book, I have to read it myself. If I have read it in the past, I may just skim it. As I speed through I note down interesting rabbit trails we may choose to explore. We will not get to all of these, but this step is important. You’ll see why in a minute. Part of my rabbit trail list for My Side of the Mountain was:
- New York
- Cascade Mountains/Mountain Habitats
- Survival/Camping Skills
- Flowers and Trees
- Edible plants
- Maple Syrup
- Edible plants
- Camping Skills
The next step is to decide how much we want to cover each day. In our case we want to finish the book in a month to be ready for our book club activity day. My Side of the Mountain has 22 chapters. I also wanted at least a day to learn about the author. To finish in a month’s time our goal is to read at least one chapter a day.
At this point we chose to include lapbooking in our unit with the My Side of the Mountain Project Pack from Hands of a Child. Sometimes I create our lapbooks, other times we make a notebook or even write about the book or a favorite character. The lapbook will be our means of recording what we learn and will be used in our state portfolio review as well. I looked at the table of contents and found there was at least one lapbook piece for each chapter, which makes my life easy. A few minutes spent printing and we are all set. We just grab the appropriate minibook for the day’s chapter after reading and talking about our story.
I also have a few activity ideas we will do along with this unit. If we get to them great, if life is too busy then we won’t worry about it! They are simple things such as:
- Cooking over a fire.
- Identifying the flowers and trees in our yard.
- Putting up a tent in the backyard.
- Taking a hike at the local nature preserve.
That’s it! Just a few basic ingredients can make a unit study that your family will enjoy and remember for years to come. I hope that every family takes the time, even if it is just once in a while, to enjoy a homemade unit study tailored just to their family’s tastes.
You can visit Tristan and her family at their blog, Our Busy Homeschool.