Jenny Morris, a homeschooling mom, has created a wonderful website at Faith & Good Works that has many free, short-term unit studies. Most of them are geared toward pre-kindergarten through about third grade, although some will be useful with older students.
These are topical unit studies that cover just one or a few subject areas rather than your core curriculum. You will probably have your core math and language arts curricula, and these unit studies can be used as supplements covering science and social studies topics that need not be learned sequentially.
Some of the unit studies she has created are:
- From Seed to Plant Life Cycle
- Composting and Worms
- Prairie Habitat
- Wildflowers Nature Study
- Betsy Ross and the American Flag
- Pilgrims and the Mayflower
- Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King
These unit studies are presented as lists of activities and links to websites with pertinent resources. They are not downloadable files. Since these studies primarily draw their content from other books and websites, they seem to have only non-religious content. However, I didn’t investigate every resource and website.
I’ll review one of the studies, Pumpkins, to show what they are like. The Pumpkins Unit Study is intended to last from one to three weeks, depending upon how many activities you choose.
The study begins with just a few facts about pumpkins and a link to a site with much more information about the “Anatomy of a Pumpkin.” This is followed by a list of ten possible read-aloud books that you should be able to get from the library, such as The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons. You can choose one or more of these books to read.
Next are links to seven other websites with math activities relating to pumpkins. One of these, the “Neighborhood Pumpkin Hunt Working with Ten Frames,” provides a free printable tally sheet with ten-frames. You take children on a neighborhood walk (in your own neighborhood or somewhere where there are plenty of pumpkins) and they mark their sheets for each pumpkin they spot. This helps familiarize them with the use of ten frames, a visual aid frequently used in newer math programs.
The next section of the unit study is titled, “Science Experiments, STEM, and Sensory Play Ideas.” It has links to websites with lots of fun activities such as “Fluffy Pumpkin Slime,” “Bubble Science in a Pumpkin,” and one about decorating pumpkins by gluing all sorts of items to its surface.
The activities look a little more like traditional school if you use one of the sets of free printable worksheets about the life cycle of a pumpkin. Links are provided to various versions of these worksheets, and you will probably just select one. In addition to all of this, the unit study recommends a field trip to a pumpkin farm, and it has links to coloring pages and arts and crafts activities.
Who would have thought there was so much to learn and do in relation to pumpkins?
These unit studies make homeschooling fun at a minimal cost. They can be used whenever and however they suit your needs, and they are especially useful if you need a break from a more academic approach to homeschooling.