Homeschool Science Unit Study: Need inspiration finding a science topic to study? You have come to the right place! This is a HUGE list of homeschool science unit study topics organized by scientific branch to help you find a study area quickly and easily.
What is a Science Unit Study?
Unit studies in general are an alternative approach to the traditional classroom textbook/worksheet/test method that most of us are familiar with.
The Unit Study method of homeschooling (also known as “Thematic Studies”) examines one topic extensively across a diverse set of academic subjects.
A Science Unit Study takes you deeper into the subject and attempts to take your child away from textbooks, worksheets (although they do have their place!), repetition, rote memorization, tests, boredom and drudgery. Instead, this method relies on living books, read alouds, hands on experiments, real world experiences, observation, creative projects, documentaries, field trips and activities that aim at fostering a love of learning.
You are not just teaching Science because many subjects are involved.
A Science Unit Study infuses the topic of choice with literature, writing, field trips and projects, history, art, music, poetry, social studies, reading and sometimes math, phonics, grammar and spelling, if applicable.
It is a beautiful, gentle, and fun way for children to learn. In fact, most of the time it doesn’t FEEL like learning at all.
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Check out the comparison below to get a better idea of what a science unit study on clouds would look like vs. a traditional method:
- You open your science curriculum and read the chapter pertaining to clouds, their formation and the different types
- You hand your child a worksheet and ask them to answer the questions.
- You supplement the chapter with a short YouTube video, documentary, picture book or art activity.
- Maybe you take it another step further and do an experiment with them.
- Tomorrows lesson…something new.
Your child has been introduced to clouds and has scratched the very surface.
Long term retention is generally low.
You have decided your next science unit study topic will be clouds for your elementary child. You want to go beyond the science and weave clouds into as many subjects as possible. You will have your child start a “Cloud Notebook“ so that the unit and its activities can all be kept in one place for documentation, progress and even as a keepsake.
- Literature, Picture Books and Read Alouds. Your first stop is the library. With your child you load up your bag with as many books as you can on the subject. You let your child pick out which science books on clouds, rain and meterology they like best and also pick out engaging picture books that will read more like a story. You spend the next couple weeks reading aloud the books of their choice.
- Science Observations. You spend time on the first day going on a nature walk and talking about the clouds you see above. Or you spread a blanket on the grass and watch the clouds go by, all the while, trying, with your child, to identify the types you see. You help him create a visual chart showing the different types of clouds and hang it next to a popular window. Your child will spend the next two weeks keeping a daily record of the cloud types and the weather of the day so they can start to see a connection between the two. You are hoping that by the end of the unit your child will be able to identify 2 or 3 clouds by their proper name and what type of weather they are associated with.
- You find videos on clouds from YouTube, documentaries, short clips and other media to supplement your child’s observations. You can choose to have them create a simple notebook page after each video, draw something interesting about what they watched or simply narrate back to you what they watched.
- History You pick a living book about the history of clouds or find information on the internet regarding what the ancients believed about clouds, what their words were for them and how they wove them into their belief systems, as well as how they used them to predict weather before modern meteorology. Cloud mythology can combine history with literature. The Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Native Americans have beautiful myths regarding clouds. Fun and engaging stories that create a sense of wonder for your child. You also find information about the scientist Luke Howard or read aloud The Invention of Clouds by Richard Hamblyn little by little over the unit. Luke Howard was an amateur meteorologist who made influential discoveries about clouds that affect modern meteorology today. Your child creates notebook pages based on history, scientists and mythology and adds them to their notebook.
- Hands on Science Experiments. The options are endless and can be tailored to your child’s age and ability. Pinterest is an awesome source to find specific cloud related experiment ideas. You choose two or three and your goal over the next 2 weeks is to pepper them in here and there so that they can all be completed.
- Reading and Writing. For daily copywork practice you have your child write vocabulary words, cloud quotes, passages from your read aloud or picture books or important things to remember about clouds. For example, today you have asked her to copy the following quote from Luke Howard. First, they read the passage back to you and then write to the best of their ability.
“The wispy, white ones like pulled cotton candy
are called “cirrus.”
The thundery ones that look like piled scoops of
dark ice cream are “cumulonimbus.”
You can also have your child do crossword puzzles, word searches, word mazes, make flip books or another language art based activities all within the cloud theme.
- Memory Work Your child will spend the 2 weeks memorizing the poem Clouds by Frank Dempster Sherman and will recite for you at the end of the unit.
- Music Yes! There are songs about clouds, weather, the water cycle, hurricanes, storms, wind…you name it. You can find one to practice with your child on YouTube or you can enjoy them all by creating a playlist and listening together during certain times of the day. Just like with poetry memorization, song memorization can be included in their studies. Its fun! They don’t even realize how much they are learning!
- Art. Painting! Drawing! Creating! So many options!! Art can be infused with their science experiments. Whatever you choose to do (or give your child the choice!) add it to their cloud notebook or take pictures, print them out and add those instead. If the weather is nice, set a piece of plywood up against a tree, tape a large piece of paper over it and ask them to paint what they see in the sky today.
- Math You can choose to stick to your usual curriculum or you can find ways to infuse your cloud theme into math time as well. Counting activities with cloud printables, cards and manipulatives for little ones. Pinterest has a plethora of options for younger children. Older children can be introducted to cloud cover percentages and how high in the atmosphere each cloud type is then convert those figures into different forms of measurements. For example. “cumulonibous clouds can be found at altitudes ranging from 500m to 16,000m in the sky. Show these altitudes in miles and feet.”
Your child has been immersed in clouds and weather for the last couple weeks.
Long term retention will be higher.
As a bonus, your child has had lots of fun learning and will probably approach the next science unit study with excitement.
Remember that unit studies can be simple and short or in depth and of longer duration. They can last a week or a year.
It is all up to you and your childs interest level. Either way, it is a more interesting, engaging and immersive form of learning that any homeschool parent can do. (You probably already do it informally at some level and just didn’t realize there was a name for it!)
Why Teach a Science Unit Study?
Science topics are easy to start with. In fact, science is one of the BEST subjects for your first foray into this method. Why? Because science can be really, really dry or really, really interesting depending how it is presented.
I like to make this subject come alive as much as possible and to feel less like learning. It’s easier on us parents and the kids LOVE it. Plus, it is fun learning right along side of them!
Here are a few reasons why you should consider a science unit study in your homeschool.
Science Unit Studies are Interesting
By using a variety of resources like living books, field trips, outside activities, hands on activities and experiments, projects, board games, puzzles, art, building toys, your own backyard, museums and manipulatives you encourage creativity, critical thinking and self discovery. Unit studies can be perfect for the child who learns differently, has trouble sitting still or just plain glazes over at the sight of a textbook.
Science Unit Studies are Flexible
Since unit studies take us away from the traditional way of learning, they can take us away from the traditional schedule as well. You and your children decide how long to study a unit based on interest levels. There are no time restraints! Unit Studies work really well for families that have work limitations, military families in the middle of a long and disruptive move, families who roadschool, families with multiple children at different learning levels, and families who want to keep learning during school breaks but not with their usual studies.
You can keep everything you love about homeschool in your Unit Studies (field trips, nature study, art, music, hands on activities, read alouds and living books) and eliminate everything you don’t. (textbooks, worksheets, rote memorization, tests). Because Unit Studies are highly adaptable, children can learn at their own pace, at their own level and all within a very gentle setting.
Science Unit Studies are Great for Families with Multi-level Learners
Are you a large family with children at different levels doing different things? Are you bouncing back and forth between the youngest and the oldest, constantly shifting gears to help with their needs? It is incredibly time consuming for YOU to be everything to everyone as well as having to stay on top of your childrens different curriculums.
For me personally, it is a recipe for burn out. I just can’t do it ALL THE TIME. When I try, I go crazy, become hurried, cranky and forgetful. Trying to keep up with everyone individually is one of those aspects of homeschool that I don’t enjoy. Since I’m always looking for ways to simplify, discovering unit studies has been a life saver. With several children you can all study ONE topic together.
Within that topic there are many activities, field trips, read clouds, and projects that can be done together as a group. Then, unit studies are individualized for each student by giving them a variation of the same activity based on their level. Little ones join in too! They feel included in the learning and you are freed from having to squeeze things in during nap time. Plus they benefit immensely by being surrounded by topics, vocabulary and activities that are generally thought to be to advanced for them. Group work, yet individualized….all happening at the same time. SO. MUCH. EASIER.
Science Unit Studies Avoid Brain Dumps
There is a type of magic that happens when you dive deep into a subject. I call it the “Homeschool Secret Sauce”. Children who are “living” a topic in a fun, engaging and hands on way rather than just reading about it typically have higher retention. Also, because the goal is to inspire a love of and an excitement for learning we have a better chance at sparking unforgettable learning experiences that stay with our children as treasured memories.
What is amazing about Unit Studies is that much of it doesn’t even feel like learning, but the learning is DEEP and REAL. Children in school become experts at learning which important facts, figures and dates they need to know to pass the test. After the test, that information is dumped to make room for the next. No teaching to the test here. You are teaching for true connection, discovery and retention.
Science Unit Studies are Individualized
Unit Studies are highly adaptable and can be individualized to specific interests and learning needs. By stepping outside the box, they can be perfect for children with different learning needs, who are advanced for their age, who are kinestetic learners or who simply hates bookwork. Unit studies can be tailored to suit any type of learning style. Children are able to learn at their own level, at their own pace and all in a gentle, effective setting. You control what is presented and how it is presented, tailoring the learning experience based on your unique child or family.
Science Unit Studies are Cheap
Because you are not having to purchase expensive curriculum and you are usually finding free and cheap resources online, it can be a really inexpensive way to homeschool. Perfect for those on a tight budget and those with large families where school can get very expensive very fast when having to purchase curriculum for each level. I feel broke just thinking about the cost associated with multiple children!
Unit studies have allowed us to keep our money and use it for enriching travels, field trips and museum and science center memberships instead. The whole family benefits from these experiences together! The only things you really need to start a science unit study are a library card, an awesome microscope (we use this one and really love it) and art supplies. The rest can be purchased here and there and as needed.
Homeschool Science Unit Study Topics
I put this list together for myself so that I could have topics to choose from all in one place and seperated by scientific branch. I keep this list in my homeschool planner and mark off topics as we study them.
This list is separated by the 3 main branches of science: Physical, Earth and Life.
Within each branch the topics are separated again by field of study: Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry and so on.
Science is so hard to box in since many of the disciplines are studied in multiple branches. There is also some repetition as some topics can be studied from different perspectives. For example, a study on the atmosphere can be included in astronomy or weather. I have tried to limit the repetition and will let you decided which branch the subject fits best in for you and your family.
When found, I have included links to free or cheap unit studies, lesson plans, or resources guides as STARTING POINTS to help you design your own study. If you know of an awesome unit study for one of the topics below, let me know and I will include a link in the post!
Earth Science Unit Study Topics
- Careers in Geography
- Careers in Geology
- Caverns and Caves
- Coastlines and Beaches $
- Composition of the Earth
- Continental Drift Theory
- Dams and Reservoirs
- Earths Crust and Landforms
- Erosion and Weathering
- Geological Time Scale and Processes
- Glaciers, Ice Sheets and Icebergs
- History of Geography
- History of Geology
- Latitude and Longitude
- Layers of the Earth
- Magnetic Poles
- Maps, Map Making and Map Reading
- Modern Day Geology
- Plate Tectonics
- Pacific Ring of Fire
- Rocks, Minerals and Crystals
- Rock Formation and Layers
- Rock Cycle
- Rocks in Architecture
- Soil Composition
- Time Zones
- Underground Water
- Waterfalls, Rapids and Whirlpools
- Careers in Paleontology
- Ancient Life Forms
- Evolution $
- Fossils (Animal and Plant) $
- Geological Time Scale and Processes
- Prehistoric Life
- Prehistoric Time Periods
- Cenozoic Period
- Mesozoic Period
- Paleozoic Period
- Air Movement and Pressure
- Careers in Climatology
- Careers in Meterology
- Climate Change
- Climate Zones and Biomes
- Dangerous Weather
- Greenhouse Effect
- Meteorological Tools and Instruments
- Northern Lights
- Predicting Weather
- Rain Cycle
- Weather Fronts
- Weather Patterns
- Weather Safety
- Weather vs. Climate
- Cephalopods, Crustaceans and Other Shellfish
- Coastal Ecosystems
- Currents, Gyres and Eddies
- El Nino
- Marine Mammals
- Ocean Fishes
- Ocean Floor
- Ocean Life
- Ocean Zones
- Rivers, Estuaries and Deltas
- Sea Turtles and Reptiles
- Sharks and Rays
- Underwater Volcanos and Vents
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Life Science Unit Study Topics
- Arbor Day
- Balance of Nature
- Biomes of the World
- Carbon Cycle
- Careers in Ecology
- Climate Change
- Coastal Erosion
- Earth Day
- Endangered and Critical Species
- Energy Sources
- Clean vs. Dirty
- Renewable Energy
- Solar Power
- Wind Power
- Wave and Tidal Energy
- Biomass Energy
- Geothermal Energy
- Food and Agriculture
- Food Chain and Food Web
- Forest Fires
- Global Warming
- Ice Age
- Life Cycles
- Natural Disasters and How They Effect Nature
- Nitrogen Cycle
- Oxygen Cycle
- Ozone Layer
- Sustainable Living
- The Environment
- Types of Pollution (Air, Water, Ground, Acid Rain)
- Waste Disposal
- Water Cycle
- Water Treatment
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Careers in Biology
- Epidemics and Pandemics
- Human Body
- Infectious Disease
- Living Organisims
- Marine Biology
- Single Cell Organisms
- The Five Senses
- Careers in Zoology
- Amphibians and Reptiles
- Sea Creatures
- Taxonomy and Classification
- Vertebrates vs. Invertebrates
- Veterinary Science
- Careers in Botony
- Medicinal Plants and Herbs
Physical Science Unit Study Topics
- Big Bang Theory
- Black Holes
- Celestial Navigation
- Day and Night
- Gravity and Orbits
- Historical Astronomy
- Meteors and Comets
- Natural Satellites (Moons)
- Radio Waves and Dishes
- Space Exploration
- Space Shuttles and Rockets
- Telescopes and Observatories
- The Milky Way
- The Four Seasons
- The Seasons of the Night Sky
- The Solar System
- The Space Race
- The Universe
- Acids and Bases
- Careers in Chemistry
- Chemical Bonding
- Chemical Reactions
- Compounds and Mixtures
- Organic Chemistry
- Periodic Table
- Radioactivity and Radiation
- Careers in Physics
- Electric Motors
- Laws of Motion
- Mass and Weight
- Nuclear Physics
What topic did you choose for your next Science Unit Study?? How did it go? Let us all know in the comments!
Also, please share in the comments if you know of a cheap or free unit study on one of the topics above and I will link to it in the post.