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Switching from a strictly classical approach to a unit study curriculum wasn’t a quick decision, but it was the best choice for our family. Homeschool unit studies allow us to work on a mastery-based level on topics that fascinated us instead of learning in small bites.
Two things I quickly learned were that prepared homeschool unit study curriculum was not as readily available as curriculum for other homeschool approaches and that not all of my boys wanted to do hands-on activities.
Although there may not seem as many choices for curriculum using the unit study approach, there is still a variety.
Listing some of the ones I’ve used and which ones have more hands-on ideas, I’m hoping one or two here will help you to make the switch to unit studies easier, ease your planning time or just let somebody else take the teaching reins for a while.
Also, where possible if there is a discount available, I’ll point that out because I like to save money too.
Beautiful Feet Books. Beautiful Feet Books is based on history centered literature and I’ve used it for my boys at the middle and high school level. Be sure to grab the coupon at my article Medieval History for Homeschool Middle School and read about using Beautiful Feet Books.
You can add hands-on ideas here, but it’s not required.
Before Five in a Row and Five in a Row are literature based unit studies based on living books and I used them when the boys were young. It’s one of my top choices for the younger years and lot of hands-on ideas are sprinkled throughout which I feel is a valuable component for younger grades.
BookShark. BookShark is the secular version of Sonlight and I classify it as a unit study because of the literature based focused. I love their 4-day a week schedule and this is an all-in-one program or boxed curriculum because it comes with everything you need for a year. I like BookShark because it allows me to add my own Christian view. Too, hands-on ideas are not required but I love the fact you can add your own activities.
GeoMatters. Combining our love for geography, history, living books with a Charlotte Mason twist, makes GeoMatters a fun unit study. We loved doing their Trail Guide to Learning. And this is a nice discount at Homeschool Buyers Co-op. I love the ideas for hands-on activities.
HomeschoolLegacy. This is an all-in-one unit study provider where the planning is laid out for you. I’ve tried one of the history ones and enjoyed how easy it made lesson planning. And it has a nice balance of both laid out planning and hands-on ideas.
Home School In the Woods. If you love history like we do and build a lot of your unit studies around it, then you’ll love the approach taken by Home School in the Woods which is through timelines, lapbooks and hands-on activities.
I love how many ideas are given for hands-on projects, but also a good amount of information is given for background information. If you’re looking for long-term hands-on projects, this is a great option.
In the Hands of a Child. Then this is a lapbook approach to unit studies. The best part besides the fun lapbook is that they can span many ages and there are multiple themes to choose from. This is also discounted through Homeschool Buyers Co-op.
Because lapbooks are hands-on activities, each unit has one for your child to do.
Intellego Unit Studies. I love these unit studies though they are light on hands-on ideas and are secular.
I’ve used several of these studies when I first started because I didn’t want to have to research all the information. I like them because the background information is well laid out. I normally end up adding my own Biblical content anyway and have ideas for hands-on. Also, you get a discount when you buy from Homeschool Buyers Co-op like 45% so I’m giving you the heads up.
There is very little hands-on required.
KONOS. Yes, it’s true they are the absolute granddaddy of unit studies and I used them when I first got started. It is a very comprehensive unit study and you can buy just what you want or buy a laid out curriculum. They have more fun hands-on ideas than most other unit studies.
I love the amount of hands-on ideas for each age given, but again it’s not required because there is a sufficient amount of information given without having to do the hands-on activities.
Learning Adventures. This is one I’ve been eyeballing and would love to try because it includes all my favorites. It’s for upper grades or 4th to 8th grade, it’s based on living books which I try to always use in our unit studies and our passion for history is what is at the center of the themes.
I’ll let you know about the hands-on ideas after I use it, but wanted to be sure you knew about it.
Moving Beyond the Page. This is a favorite when I need a literature based all-in-one unit study. They have rigorous academics and when you need a more rounded out unit study, they are a great choice.
My Father’s World. Incorporating classical education and hands-on, this is a very comprehensive unit study approach.
NaturExplorers. My favorite curriculum for science always uses a living book approach and is hands-on which is why we love NaturExplorers. From Beautiful Birds to the Fungus Among Us, you’ll find a title your kids will love.
There are a good amount of hands-on ideas which I love because science should be about doing and not just reading.
Nia Unit Studies. Though a much smaller company, I love that the unit studies take a notebooking approach and are downloadable as e-books. This is a great choice if you want to get started quickly and inexpensively. I’m hoping to see more titles, but I love mom-and-pop shops.
TRISMS. Having used TRISMS as well, I love the history approach to unit studies. However, it is very comprehensive because it adds in all other subjects. I love the research aspect of it and there are several activity ideas to include for each theme. This was challenging for my middle school boys when we started and I loved that aspect of it. I could make it as challenging as I wanted it to be for them.
Hands-on ideas are offered but don’t have to be done.
Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett. This is another provider that has been around for years and her format is one where the pdfs have research and links in the download. I would consider them a light coverage and more for younger kids.
Weaver Unit Studies. Weaver has been around for years too and gently covers multiple subjects with a Christian view. If you want to take a more gentle approach, add in more information and want more of a Christian view, then you’ll love this one. This is discounted through Homeschool Buyers Co-op too.
There is not an extensive list of hands-on ideas, but some are given.
WinterPromise. This is another wonderful all-in-one program where the themes are based on history using a Charlotte Mason approach.
Free Homeschool Unit Studies
Also, I’ve rounded up some big lists of free homeschool unit studies.
Whether you’re new to the unit study approach or if you’re like me and your needs change each year, I know you’ll like having this list at your fingertips.
Hugs and love ya,
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