It’s coming fast–the end of July! So, I’ve been thinking about and planning what we will be doing for our homeschool this year. I’m very excited because we are going to be doing one of my all-time-favorite unit studies this year! We might do some lapbooks, also, (another favorite learning method of mine!)
Maybe you’ve never heard of a unit study or a lapbook? (Those crazy, weird homeschoolers!) Allow me to explain what they are and why I like them so much! And I want to tell you about my favorite one I’m using this year! (Can you tell I’m a little excited about it?) 🙂
There are so many different homeschooling methods, so if you’re thinking about trying homeschooling or just simply curious, you can do some research online and find out which method would best suit you and your children. No two families are exactly alike, so no two homeschools are exactly alike!
Or maybe you’ve been homeschooling awhile, but aren’t happy with the materials you have chosen to use or the way things are going. Good news! You can change! I would encourage you to do some research, pray about it, and consider your children’s learning style and your teaching style. It took me a few years to figure this all out with trial and error, but happily I finally found a way that worked for us.
A unit study is sometimes called a thematic unit. It involves picking a topic (like trains, inventors, chocolate, literature) and basing your studies from that topic. They can last a few days, a few weeks, or even all year! It’s a great way to teach many kids at once and keeps everyone on the same topic.
Let’s just say your children are crazy about inventors. So, maybe a lesson in your unit study about inventors could encompass reading a book about George Washington Carver (who invented peanut butter, among other things!) (literature, science). Then, your children could write or copy some facts about him in a notebook or lapbook (writing, art). Next, they could see how many unshelled peanuts they can toss into a bucket, counting them at the end and comparing to see who got the most (math). You could top off the learning with a snack of NutterButters or, better yet, do some cooking (life skills and math again!) and whip up something with peanut butter in it (fun!). Your lesson might be totally different from mine, but the idea is helping learning happen in a fun way while sticking to a particular topic. Of course, one topic can lead to another which can create a whole other unit study adventure!
Oh, I didn’t explain what lapbooks are yet! Lapbooks make a great companion to unit studies. A lapbook is simply a homemade book (usually made from file folders) that hold many smaller booklets in which your children write down all they are learning in the unit study or other source. Your children typically work on one or two booklets a day for a week or longer. They fold the booklets in many different ways and glue them to the file folders. The lapbook can also be decorated with stickers or drawings. It ends up being kind of like a homemade lift-a-flap book, a unique work of art! They are a great tool especially for PreK to about 5th or 6th grade. They may be a little challenging if your little one can’t use scissors yet, but they can also help hone that skill. Besides scissors skills, lapbooks involve comprehension skills, thinking skills, creativity, writing, copying, folding, gluing, gleaning information from a source, and more. Also, kids love to go back and look at them weeks, months, or even years later so the children review all the information they learned again and again. Win! 🙂
I’ve used several different unit studies and lapbooks in my homeschool and as a teacher at our homeschool co-op, but my favorite is the Prarie Primer!
This unit study lasts all school year and uses the Little House Series which is awesome! If you haven’t read this series yet, stop reading this right now and go get these books! 🙂
Sorry, I got a little carried away there….but seriously, these are such fun reads even for adults! As you can tell my set is well-loved and well-used! In case you haven’t read them, these are all about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family. It tells of their adventures and challenges in the 1800’s as they travel in a covered wagon to become pioneers that helped settle the wild west of America.
With the Prairie Primer you and your children will cover about one book a month, taking your learning from the chapters you read each day. So, if Pa Ingalls encounters a bear in the chapter, one of the options in the Primer will be to learn about bears and write an animal report about them. And if Ma Ingalls makes butter in the chapter, you can learn the steps for making butter and even make some yourselves! There are more than enough ideas each day, so you can pick and choose the ones that interest you and your kids and that you have time for. The Primer covers so many topics in an interesting and natural way. Some general topics include: Bible Concepts and Memory, Building Character, Crafts, Health, History, Government, Geography, Literature, Life Skills, Science, and more.
I will be adding a Math and Grammar curriculum to round out my older daughter’s studies (6th grader), but for the most part this will be the backbone of our homeschool this year. My younger daughter will be a big Kindergartner this year so I’m planning on her joining us for the reading and some of the activities along with learning Kinder concepts. I’m hoping all my excitement will be contagious and we will have an awesome time learning about Laura and her family and the time period in which she lived!
If you are a homeschool mom, what are you and your kids planning to do this year?
If you decide to use this curriculum, I’d love to know! Also, there are some free lapbooks that go along with the Little House Series on homeschoolshare.com that you can find here! Here’s a pic of one we did a few years back when my older kids were younger.