How to Create and plan a DIY Unit Study for Homeschool + Free Planner Printable
We love unit studies! Creating a DIY unit study for homeschooling can be a fun and engaging experience for both you and your child. Plus, it can be an affordable option vs. buying pre-made units for each new topic you want to incorporate. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how I easily create and plan successful and relaxing unit studies:
Pick a unit study theme
Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when picking a topic…
1. Consider your child’s interests
Choosing a topic that they are interested in will keep them engaged and motivated.
2. Pick a topic that can easily span multiple subjects.
For example, Volcanos can be incorporated in many different subjects. There are major volcanic events of history, the science of volcanos, spelling of volcanic terms, writing stories about volcano eruptions, the geology of volcanos, famous volcanologists , volcano arts and crafts and the math behind the Volcanic Explosivity Index. There are historical fictions and lots of picture books, documentaries and YouTube videos about volcanoes. This makes it an easy theme to put together.
3. Think about the length of time you want to spend with this unit study.
Is this a week long unit where you will study nothing else or is this a month or multi-month unit that you will be coming back to here and there? Knowing how much time you want or need to get through the unit will help immensely with your planning.
Research and gather material
1. Start with Books
Book gathering is my favorite part of building a unit study!
I like to start by googling childrens historical fictions and pick one or two read alouds that pertain to our topic.
I will read one to two chapters a day and and find vocabulary words and phrases that we can use for copy work and dictation as we go.
Then I google picture books for our topic and cross reference with our library catalog as to which I can borrow for free and which ones I might like to buy…if any.
I usually just go with the books I can get for free from the library to keep costs down and I usually find that this is enough.
2. Head over to YouTube to make a playlist of relevant videos on your unit study topic.
Having a playlist of ready to go videos is so much easier then going through a bunch of videos with your kids until you find a good one. You can build a playlist easily and be ready at any moment.
3. Next, find shows and documentaries on Netflix, Disney, Amazon Prime or another streaming service.
Just like with YouTube, you can build watchlists of relevant shows. My kids don’t watch a lot of television but they really enjoy documentaries so I always have a few at the ready.
I love to incorporate boardgames or card games in the topic we are studying. There are so many subjects when it comes to board games that there will most likely be one regarding your topic or one related to it.
It’s the best way to learn without feeling like you are learning!
5. Head to Pinterest and find one or two hands-on projects related to your topic
I like to have one big hands-on project or experiment with each unit study. You can only read and watch videos so much. Your children will want to get busy with their hands to show off their new knowledge. I will sometimes even let them pick what they would like to do from Pinterest.
6. Find online printables
This is the last step of resource gathering. Homeschool moms are amazing and many have created useful and wonderful printables on every topic imaginable. Many you can find for free but I also like to support my fellow homeschoolers by purchasing ready made material that I can use to supplement our books and videos.
Now let’s put the unit study together
1. Write it down in a planner
I created a unit study planner for my own use and share it here. You can also download a free sample here
OR you can grab the whole planner pack here
Writing everything downs the best way I’ve found to stay organized.
2. Gather your planner and materials
Gather all your materials, resources and planner pages. I like to keep my planner in a binder and my materials and resources in a basket. That way, everything is all in the same place and I can just grab and go.