Creating Unit Studies

There are tons of resources out there for free unit studies, as well as how to write your own unit studies. When I write a unit study, I don’t like to just have a list of links, book titles, and activities, although some people do. For me, I like to have the activities sorted and grouped in a logical way, with step-by-step and day-by-day instructions.

Here’s how I do it:

  • First, I decide on the title of the unit. I do this because it helps me focus on the topic at hand. For example, a unit study on pioneers and westward expansion could include so many things: Lewis & Clark expedition, Laura Ingalls Wilder books (Little House on the Prairie series), Daniel Boone, Native American Indians, Oregon Trail, Trail of Tears, etc. By titling the unit, I’m deciding right off the bat what the unit will include. If we decide to do a study down one of the rabbit trails, there will be overlap. To me, that’s fine. I’d rather have a short (two-week) and well-planned unit than have an open ended study that goes on forever. Again, that’s just me. For this example, we’ll call it “Pioneer Life.”
  • Next, I decide the important things the kids should learn about the topic. Continuing with the example above, the students should know what part of the country we’re talking about, what the geography is like and how it’s different from where the pioneers came from, how they built homes and towns when no supplies were available, who traveled west, why they traveled west, and how they traveled west. Basically, this is my list of goals for the unit.
  • Now that I have my list of goals, I decide which order they should be in. My list of goals now becomes my list of lessons.
    • What is “the West”?
    • What does “the West” look like?
    • Who traveled West and why?
    • How did people go West?
    • How did they build homes and live in the West?
    • How did they get supplies and mail?
  • Here comes the fun part. You now get to decide how you’re going to teach the lessons! Look around on the Internet to find resources to teach your goals/lessons. Brain storm your own list of activities. You don’t have to stick with one lesson per day. You could, presumably, fill an entire week with one lesson, if you wanted to. The choice is yours.

I will be posting unit studies here as we go along, and each one will follow this format. Hope it helps someone out there! Feel free to post a comment and let me know what you think or how it goes!

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