Homeschool Unit Studies: How to Put it All Together

Part 4 in our How to Write Homeschool Unit Studies series by Tina Franks

So how do you put it all together?

The thought of writing a unit study was terribly overwhelming when I first began.  After all, how can you possibly take one small topic and create an entire course of study around it? 

That task can easily seem daunting and strike fear into the hearts of even the most seasoned of homeschoolers.  But, it doesn’t have to. 

Take it one step at a time and you’ll breeze right through the process.  In the first three sections of this tutorial alone, you’ve already made quite a bit of progress!

Now is the time to grab a piece of paper and create a good, old-fashioned idea web.  Here’s a good link, if you need a refresher. 

So take one of those topics you came up with earlier and just brainstorm. 

Or, if you’re more of a research-minded bookworm, go to the library and pick out a few books on the topic first and use them to help you brainstorm.  (Don’t go crazy and get 20 books on the subject… just a few will suffice.  We’ll discuss that more later.) 

Once you’ve gotten your idea web down on paper, you can lay it out into a more useable outline.  From the ideas that you listed, categorize them under the major curricular areas where they belong. 

This outline will help you to discover any areas you might have wanted to cover but haven’t included or areas in which you’ve just got too much going on. 

It will also help you to uncover rabbit trails… those little learning detours that flow naturally from the study of your chosen topic.  Take some time to make sure you are happy with your outline.

From here, it shouldn’t be difficult at all to flesh out your unit study, if you choose to do that. 

Depending on the ability level of your student or students, you might choose to do either a unit study starter or a complete unit study. 

What’s the difference? 

For an older, more independent, student you might simply do a study starter.  This is where you would simply turn your outline into a list of expectations for your student and let him do all of the research. 

Likely, you’d want to do the research beforehand for a younger student or for multiple age groups.  So follow your own outline and fill in the blanks. 

  • Get those books from the library, if you haven’t done so already, and answer your own questions. 
  • Write out any hands-on activities or projects that you have in mind. 
  • Print out any worksheets that you want to include. 
  • Compile a list of any web links you want to follow or any extra reading you want your child to do (again with those library books!) and include that as part of your unit study. 

When finished, a complete unit study should ideally contain all of the information you’ll need to learn about the topic you’ve chosen.

Shannon’s Note:

If you prefer to create that Idea Web on your computer instead, I really like FreeMind mind mapping software, it’s free and fairly easy to use. I have it on both my netbook and my main computer and use it for unit studies, planning out the year, to do lists, when I’m stuck on a writing project ….you get the idea.

Coming Next Week: Homeschool Unit Studies: All Those Library Books

Until then, enjoy!


P.S. If you need help with FreeMind or want some great tips for using mindmaps, I highly suggest checking out Bob the Teacher’s step by step video training – Discover Freemind.  You can also get the Freemind software free there too.

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One Response to Homeschool Unit Studies: How to Put it All Together

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

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