Thursday, March 12, 2015

Unit Studies Made Simple (For Newbies)

Today I want to share an easy approach to homeschool lessons that has worked very well for me many times. As you may remember, I am a fan of keeping it simple.
If it requires too many steps or too much gathering of materials, or if it costs a big fat wad of moolah, I am not gonna do it...just sayin'.

I am a work from home mom and I also have some health issues that we have to work around. Severe migraines and sometimes fibromyalgia type crud have been trying to get in my way for quite a few years .(I've been working to correct my health imbalances naturally, but it's a slow process). I often have to "do school" with the kids while  propped on the couch with pillows and quilts.

I would just like to point out that this kind of lesson is not only for special situations. I started using this method when my oldest (now 24) was only 6 years old. Whether you have many itty bitty kids that require lots of attention or you are a work at home, work out of home, or even a single mom, these ideas an be utilized with great success!
This beginner guide is only a guide. You can simplify for younger kids or add higher level stuff for older kids. Also, the crafts can eventually evolve into fancier things ( like homemade sun dials or whatever). The sky  and your imagination are the limit. But don't overdo it. Remember that the goal is simplicity.

Enough chit chat. Lets get to the steps:

First (and this is the most important step): Choose a topic.
   Any topic will do. The main requirement here is to make sure your kiddos are interested in it. You can tackle those less than interesting topics later, after you've gotten the feel of this thing.

Second: Get books.
   Head to the library, or the thrift store, or even the computer or Kindle, and find some books on the chosen topic. A good rule of thumb is to find 3 kids books and one grown-up book and a reference work (wiki or encyclopedia, etc).

Third: Find a video or two. I like to choose one educational or documentary style and one fun or story style.

Fourth: Look up a craft idea that relates to the topic. I prefer simple things or printables from sites like: Itsy Bitsy Fun . There are tons of free printables and or craft ideas available online (or even printables that cost a little bit ( go for whatever your bank account is comfortable with). Back in the old days I made up my own ideas with materials at hand. The kids don't really care if it's Pinterest pretty or not. They just want to glue something. No, seriously. This is not a mommy contest. Just relax and let them have fun. No pictures required.

Fifth: Arrange all the above in any order you wish, schedule it out over about a one week period and add in whatever other subjects you want. 

For example (If the topic is hot air balloons):

Day One (for us this is a Monday but you are the mom and can choose any day you want)
Go to the library, check out the books and videos.
Come home and read one of the kid books out loud.
Look up hot air balloons in a reference (wiki?) and read about the HISTORY of the hot air
balloon. Did any famous people or events use them?
Color a picture.

Day Two
Read another kid book
Read a little from the grown up book and discuss (mom would do this one).
Look at pictures online (with mom, of course)
Do a MATH lesson that includes hot air balloons (counting, adding, multiplying...whatever...and   older kids can apply algebra or whatever they are ready for).

Day Three
Read another kid book.
Look at the reference book again and talk about the SCIENCE. How do those things work?
Write some vocabulary words (or say them if the child is not yet a reader). This is ENGLISH.
Watch a video.
Do the craft as ART.

Day Four
Read a kid book.
Make a play or song or story (your call, you are mom) about hot air balloons. Put on a show for yourselves.
OR play a game. We have made up so many fun games through the years. ("Don't fall out of the basket!" might be a fun one.) You get to think it up.
OR play dress up and act out a scene on the spot.

Day Five
Ask each child what was the favorite thing they learned this week or have them give an oral                 report to the family.
Review new words and terms and talk about the stuff you did this week.
Take some pics to remember,
Watch the last video and eat snacks.

And there you have it. A full week of school without any added headaches or expense. Just the way I like it. If you are new to Unit Studies (or homeschooling) leave me a message or comment and let me know how it goes for you!
 Shared with Fellowship Friday
and Friday Flash Blog

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