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How to Implement a Unit Study

(Note: You may also want to read: "Implementing Literature in a Unit Study".)

What is a unit study you ask?

"A unit study [also commonly called a thematic unit or thematic study] is taking a theme or topic and diving into it deeply over a period of time, integrating language arts, science, social studies, math, and fine arts as they apply. Instead of studying eight or ten separate, unrelated subjects, all subjects are blended together and studied around a common theme or project."
-- from http://booksbookscurriculum.hypermart.net/unitstudy.htm

Unit studies are a frugal and fun way to facilitate learning -- both in the home or classroom setting. They are also good to use within a cooperative (aka co-op) setting. Various learning styles are encouraged and hands-on/active learning are keywords.

Here a few, simple tips for making this unit study more enjoyable for your child, and for you:

1. Plan a schedule. You can make it as general or as detailed as you find useful. But, as you create your schedule remember this next tip...

2. Be flexible. If you are really into a project or activity, donít cut it short just to keep on schedule.

3. Prepare! Make sure that you begin collecting all of the books and craft supplies you need BEFORE you need them. There's nothing worse than having a particularly exciting craft or activity planned only to find out you are missing the one vital ingredient you need to make it work.

4. Adjust your assignments and activities for your target audience. Don't make the young child's assignments too difficult and don't make the older child or highschooler's assignments too easy. Doing either of these can lead to frustration and/or boredom and much less learning will occur.

5. If you are teaching this in a group setting, allow for differences in understanding and opinion, particularly if you are teaching multiple age levels at one time.

I have one final suggestion. Keep a portfolio notebook of your unit study activities. It makes a great contribution to a school portfolio or a nice keepsake to pull out when friends and family come over and ask "What on earth do you do all day?!" It also makes it easier to remember what you did if you plan on repeating the unit study at some future date.


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