In my post Homeschool Unit Study Textbook Tips – Uh? I wanted to encourage you to take a no holes barred attitude toward unit studies by even using textbooks. Creativity in planning can be nurtured by anything and a textbook is no exception.
Today, I want to show you how to bring to life a unit study using a textbook by going from textbook to homeschool unit study starter.
Remember, normally at the beginning of a topic is where you decide if you are just going to do child-led interest on one topic as enrichment or if you are going to do a full-blown unit study.
Right now though for the sake of showing you an example, I am going to use a textbook page below and we are not going to worry about making that call right now.
Too, I took this page of a chapter because it is a great example of information that can be extracted to start your own study.
The copy is from a page about the French Revolution and actually when planning my unit study for the French Revolution, I gave it a glance.
Right away on Number 1, it gives you an idea of a time period to cover.
Textbooks cover broad strokes and this page is no exception because it gives you a longer time period to study about than just the French Revolution.It also includes the life of Napoleon Bonaparte.
For my unit study needs, I preferred a more narrow time period so I chose only the period of the French Revolution, which was from 1789 to 1799.
Here you have several choices for your own unit study and questions I would ask myself when planning are: What interests my children? What topics have we not covered? What topics can I connect to previous unit studies?
All of these questions help me to narrow my topic to just the French Revolution so that I could focus on that significant event in world history.
How to Create a Unit Study Outline in 10 Minutes
Another way to grow this page into a unit study is if you wanted to do a unit study based on a historical figure like Napoleon Bonaparte.
Then you could zero in on the years of Bonaparte’s lifetime and use the events on this page of the French Revolution as significant events in his life.
Overlapping events is a strong point in unit studies.
To keep from being overwhelmed with events and information, focus on ONE main topic either the French Revolution or Napoleon Bonaparte and then use the other one you did not choose as a sub-topic. Both of these topics are connected and you want to introduce them to your children.
The difference in a unit study is that you will work your way from the inside (or main topic) to connect it the outside (sub-topics) and sub-topics will normally have less focus or information.
Key is deciding which main topic is important to your family so that not all information gets the same of time and attention.
Number 2 or Key Events gives a starting point as to what sub-topics to include under the topic of French Revolution.
To use my choice of focusing only on the French Revolution as an example, I could use only the first two events as sub-topics to read more about or to learn about because they pertain to just the French Revolution.
When I research about those two sub-topics, other sub-topic will emerge. But using two of the points under this sections gives me a point to begin.
Number 3 or The Impact Today gives you a starting point to making a connection today. It is not always necessary to make a connection to present time. This is a feature of a textbook because it gives you a lot of information to gulp.
You will want to decide with each other unit study whether or not it is necessary to make information connect to present day. You may think that making a connection to present day is always a good idea but I have not found that to be so when teaching a unit study.
Because I kept my unit study of the French Revolution on a middle school level, I didn’t want Tiny to have to make a connection to present day.
Our French Revolution was his first introduction to it and I wanted Tiny to lounge in the time period for a while. I created a board game so that he could become familiar with that time as well.
In other words, I am giving you ideas as to what goes on in my mind as I look at resources and weigh them against my objectives or goals.
There was no need for me to push Tiny to weigh all the political issues because this will be presented again in high school and at that time we will look at a connection to present day.
Too, if I was doing this unit study with my highschooler, I may grab one of the points to assign a persuasive writing paragraph or two to my highschooler.
The topics under this area are a natural fit for writing why my highschooler may agree or might not agree with one of the ideas. In addition, if you decided to make a connection to present day, you could still use one of these ideas for a language arts assignment.
Number 4 or the timeline I would eyeball as making a helpful printable to remember some of the key events for my middleschooler.
Too, the events on the timeline could also be used as sub-topics to cover or if one of them interested my children, we could take our time reading about one of the events or key persons.
In addition, the timeline is helpful when deciding what topics to choose to write about.
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From the timeline, I created a board game so that Tiny became more familiar with the events of the French Revolution.
Also, creating cards for memorizing these events, making a visual timeline, writing about the life of King Louis XVI, making French bread, making a French pastry, studying French fashion are also a few more ways to bring these events alive for this time period.
All of these ideas can be a springboard from this timeline.
Even the picture of the globe or Number 5 could be helpful here.
Taking out our atlas, we could look up this area and label the countries to get our geography bearings about where this significant event in world history took place at.
Creating a salt dough map (always a favorite of ours) can be another hands-on activity. Also because geography includes modern day issues a country may be facing, we did make a quick connection to modern day France by highlighting one of their issues about energy by creating a solar oven.
Too, the solar oven craft would also be part of a science related topic for this unit study.
When looking at how to include geography remember that geography is not just about labeling maps.
Geography involves the culture, religion, food, present day problems and issues a country may be facing and products made by that country.
If you find a list of products made by a country, past or present, the list could be used to give you ideas for relative crafts and hands-on meals. For example, when we studied Africa, we made a meal.
When studying about the country of France, this unit study could be extended to make a French crepe, study wine making or making a French meal.
To cover art, focus on famous French artists from that time period or architect designed during that time period.
As you can see, a textbook page just starts the ideas flowing for a unit study and your creativity is the only thing that will handcuff you in any unit study.
Once you start the creative juices flowing with a unit study, it becomes easier to do the next one. Like anything, every day use of the lesson planning muscles strengthens with use.
Using something you have like a textbook not only lessens the lesson planning stress, but it is a frugal idea when you are a beginner at unit studies.
Planning unit studies from living books is always a great start but not having one should not hold you back from trying a unit study or two.
How about you? Have you tried making a unit study come to life through resources you already have?
Hugs and love ya,