Homeschool Unit Studies: Choosing a Topic & Expanding On It

Part 2 in our How to Write Homeschool Unit Studies series by Tina Franks
Now that you know what homeschool unit studies are, let’s talk about Choosing a Topic for your unit study….

There are endless options when it comes to choosing a topic for a unit study.  Think about what your student is passionate about. Think about what you’re planning to learn this year and what could be made more interesting by allowing your child to study it in a variety of ways. 

If it can be taught, it can most likely be turned into a unit study, large or small. 

A Literature Unit Study

One type of unit study, and a topic of discussion in its own right, is the literature unit. Perhaps you’ve chosen several read-alouds for the year. A unit can be written around one of these selections.

Literature very easily lends itself to this type of study because it naturally stimulates all of our senses and our entire knowledge-base.

  • Grammar concepts can be introduced and reinforced through the reading of a good book, as can new vocabulary words.  e.g, What is the setting of the story?
  • Reading comprehension and writing activities are a given in a literature study.
  • History, geography and science can easily be extracted and rabbit trails followed. 

e.g., What’s the climate like there? 
Can you find it on the map? 
What was life like there during a specific period in history?

 Biblical and character-building principles, too, can be gleaned from a literature selection.  Talk about the characters and their actions.  What can we learn from them?  What Bible verses apply? 

A picture study of the illustrations in the book is also an easy path to expand upon.

Shannon’s note: For a quick example of a literature unit study, check out my free Robinson Crusoe unit study

A Topical Unit Study

Then, of course, you have the topical unit study, where you study a variety subjects based on one topic.  Here are just a handful of examples of topical unit studies:

  • Science – migration, gravity, birds of prey
  • Social Studies – ancient China, your home state, the Mayan culture, St. Patrick’s Day
  • Life Skills – cooking, safety, responsibility
  • Bible – Noah, creation, life during Jesus’ time

This list could go on indefinitely, but you get the idea. Anything you or your students are interested in studying is fair game for a unit study. Rabbit trails are followed and curricular areas are expanded upon in the same manner you would in a literature study.

What Do You Want to Study?

So sit down and write out a few topics that you’d like to study.  Once you’ve chosen a topic, you can decide on some of the subjects that be incorporated into its study.

Shannon’s Note: Seriously this is that simple – just pick a book or a topic that you want to study, and then build your unit study from there.  Right now I’m working on an Africa unit study with the kids – which I’m writing as a I go along.

Most topics can be turned into a cross-curricular unit study without too much effort, the biggest challenge is knowing what to include and how deep to go. But Tina will get into that next…

Coming Next Week: Homeschool Unit Studies: What subjects do I have to include?  What about holes?


Tina is about to start a new, huge monster of a unit study, and she volunteered to let you and I follow along as she creates it. This is the perfect opportunity to learn exactly how she goes about putting together a study. J

Interested? Just enter your email address below and we’ll send you Tina’s updates whenever they are ready!

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4 Responses to Homeschool Unit Studies: Choosing a Topic & Expanding On It

  1. Pingback: Homeschool Unit Studies: What are Unit Studies? | Living Life at Home

  2. Pingback: Homeschool Unit Studies: What subjects do I have to include? What about holes? | Living Life at Home

  3. Carol Anne says:

    I’m just starting to homeschool my boys and am very interested in unit studies. Am I too late to follow along with the unit study that Tina is writing? I’d love to see how it’s done!
    Thanks so much!

  4. Shannon says:

    Hi Carol Anne – Welcome to homeschooling! Unit studies are fun, especially when you have active boys :) It’s not too later – I’ll add you to the list and email you privately. Have a great day!

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