Wednesday, February 11, 2009

6 Steps to Creating Your Own Unit Study!

Most children learn better from using a variety of senses -hearing, seeing, and touching - than they do from reading textbooks and filling in worksheets. This is not to say that textbooks and worksheet should not be used. Rather, a good textbook and appropriate worksheets are essential for learning math, phonics and handwriting skills. But the use of hands-on activities, visual and audio materials, and good books make teaching and learning much more effective. Literature-based unit studies are an excellent way to incorporate enjoyable reading and activities that use all of the senses. You can buy Unit Studies already prepared or you can create your own to suit the needs of your family. Here's a simple way to create your own unit study on any topic you wish:

1. Pick a topic - any topic!
2. Read books on the topic: Spend 20 or 30 minutes reading nonfiction, historical fiction, or biographies. 
  • Read above-reading-level books to your children.
  • Assign your children books to read on their own that are below level. This will improve their reading speed and inspire them to read more! 
  • Use on--reading-level books to practice reading - take turns!
In this particular situation, by reading level, I mean whether or not your child can read the book easily. This has nothing to do with the books "official" reading level. Have your child read a paragraph or two. If it's too difficult for him or her to read, use it for family reading. If it's easy, use it for assigned reading. If it's in between, use it for reading practice. 

3. Do some research on the Internet related to the topic.

4. Spend another 10 - 30 minutes either on hands-on activities related to the topic or composition projects related to the topic. Alternate throughout the unit. 
  • Use the internet to locate activities. Type into your search engine terms such as "civil war and music" or "planets and coloring page"  or "Ben Franklin and worksheet." 
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5. Visit places related to the topic - take a field trip or a virtual field trip!

6. Take photos of your activities and field trips and collect in a portfolio. This is the record of what you are studying. This takes the place of report cards!

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