How to Create Your Own Unit Studies
I know that for many, curriculum is one of the biggest challenges in the life of a homeschool parent, especially at the beginning. Some places are more challenging than others, for sure. We live in Quebec right now and it is incredibly challenging to make the government happy while still allowing learning to be fun and engaging.
I have been making my own unit studies for a couple of years now. It has been so much fun! I have to tell you that I REALLY love making units and that is why I make them for our blog readers. I have fun doing it and you get the ease of not having to come up with anything. Today I want to show you how I do it. It is easier than you think. Follow along and we will get a unit started, planned, and finished. You can find the unit study planner pages on our printables page at the top.
First I need to know what I am going to make my unit on. My oldest is going into 7th grade in the fall. I like making history-based units best and he will be required to learn about ancient history. I might as well start at the beginning and do a unit on Neolithic society.
The first thing I am going to do is choose a game. I already know it is going to be Stone Age because I have been wanting to give it a try. If I were doing the study for a younger kid, I would choose Honga or My First Stone Age. If I didn’t already know a game I wanted to use, I would do a quick Google search for one. I always have a game in my units.
I thought it might be fun to get in more experiential learning with a video game. A quick search brought up some options that look awful. Far Cry Primal looks interesting though, so I am going to check out the rating, system, and cost. Well, the M rating looks like it is fairly accurate from the ads I saw for it. I will just stick with a board game for this unit.
Now that I have a game figured out, I am going to start looking for books. I usually start by searching Google for best books on the topic I am covering. So today I am looking up best books for teens about the stone age. I always choose a book that is fiction and one that is non-fiction. For non-fiction I have decided to get the Horrible Histories Collection 20 book set. It includes the stone age as well as the other eras we will need to cover next year. I like how they are written. These will probably be the read-aloud books for us.
I am having a hard time finding a book for my son to read. I am looking for something about a boy, if possible, and age appropriate. So, I will try some other keywords in my search. After some more searching, I decided to go with The Kin by Peter Dickinson. I can get it on the Kindle, which is a bonus. Plus it is an omnibus, so he can read one or all of them for the price of one book.
Next on my list are videos. My first stop was Curiosity Stream. We got a year of streaming for super cheap and it has been a great resource for our homeschool. I found The Manot Skull which is about evidence that modern men and Neanderthals lived side-by-side. Modern Stone Age Family is about cooking and eating from ancient times. Lastly, The Neanderthals’ Dark Secret which is about why they are no longer around. That is probably good so I will check out some websites. I didn’t find anything I wanted to use, except for a virtual tour of Lascaux Cave. Technically it is another video, https://vimeo.com/40849516. It is a nice addition though. Sometimes there isn’t a site to explore and that is okay.
I already know that I will have him recreate some stone age art, so that is one activity down. The Modern Stone Age Family video would pair well with a cooking activity replicating one of the food prep methods. Now I am going to head over to Pinterest and see if there are any interesting activities to do. I’m finding that this is a topic that doesn’t have a lot of information or activities. It makes sense since it is prehistory. It is okay for this to be a short unit. I will add a great activity staple, making a diorama. I let him build it out of whatever he wants or on Minecraft.
I already have history in the unit since it is the main focus. Science is there because of the scientific study of the bones and foods they ate in the videos we will watch. I don’t worry about getting math in because we use Shiller Math and don’t need to add more. I have an art project, not required, but a nice addition. For language arts, I have reading and listening taken care of, but I would like to get some writing in there for a well rounded study. I think I will have him write and illustrate a short story about what it would be like to live in the stone age. It has writing and some more art. As a bonus, he can make it into a picture book to read to his 3 year old little brother.
So, there you have it! We made a unit. On the printable I have included a page for you to plan out your activities by day/week. My Neolithic unit is short and will probably take a couple of weeks or so. Most of my units take about 4-6 weeks depending on the topic and amount of potential information and activities. It took about an hour to put the unit together, mostly one handed with a 3 year old on my lap, and while also writing this blog post.
Whether you are making a unit for a specific topic to cover regulations or making a unit for your child’s ever-changing interests, you can do it. It is fast and very flexible. You can make your units months in advance or just days. If you want to get some pre-made units, take a look at our units page. You can get this unit and more for free, thanks to the generosity of our patrons. Good luck unit planning and let me know how it goes!
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