Easy Homeschool Unit Study Planning 101

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One of the most popular homeschooling styles is Unit Study! Planning and scheduling a homemade unit study homeschool curriculum doesn’t have to be hard or overwhelming. 

The number one reason why homeschoolers shy away from planning their own unit studies is the big T-I-M-E factor. Most homeschool parents are crazy busy running a household, raising kids, and possibly working a job in the crazy mix. Life can just swallow a homeschool parent up between work, household responsibilities, nurturing relationships, and other ongoing obligations.

The thought of creating a homeschool unit study from scratch can easily overwhelm a homeschool parent sending them running for the hills.

I can help you with that and avoid the whole "running for the hills," feeling.

Why Learn to Plan Your Own Unit Studies - #1 Flexibility & Freedom to Learn

The fundamental reason a homeschool parent would want to learn how to plan and do the homeschool unit study approach is #1, for the flexibility and FREEDOM of learning the what and how tailored precisely to their kids top learning curiosities.

Yes, there are TONS of free unit studies all over the Web. But, what are the chances that you'll find freebies for EVERY topic your kids are super into? Not likely, right?

Therefore, you want to BE empowered to create your own short and long unit studies both in-depth and on the fly. I teach you how here at NatureGlo's eScience!



FOR JUST $25 $10!

Unit Study Planner BUNDLE
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#2 - Gain Sweet Liberty from Unwanted Curriculum Through Unit Studies

The #2 reason that homeschoolers would want to do unit studies more regularly or full-time, is the sweet LIBERTY from unwanted curriculum. Unit studies CAN afford the freedom to follow every child's top learning interests making their interests your homeschool curriculum rather than running the homeschool curriculum gauntlet every year.

Over the years, as both a classroom teacher and online homeschool course creator and facilitator,  I’ve learned to streamline the unit study planning process. This has enabled my homeschool online course planning process to flow with ease and fun!

A Brief Unit Study Definition

Let's recap what a unit study is. I created an article called, "What is a Unit Study", where I go into more detail about what a homeschool unit study is. 

A unit study is a focused topical study of high child interest that connects multiple subjects all relating back to the main topic. 

Recap - How to Create A Homeschool Unit Study in 5 Easy Steps 

In my post on How to Create A Homeschool Unit Study in 5 Easy Steps, I talk about the 5 steps below in greater detail. 

Here are the 5 easy steps for creating a homeschool unit study in order:

  1. Unit Study family discussion
  2. Planning & Scheduling (use NatureGlo’s Planner)
  3. Research & Gather Resources
  4. Look for Subject Connections
  5. Record Learning Journey

Now, we are on step #2 in this series, Planning & Scheduling a unit study. 

In NatureGlo's Unit Study Planner BUNDLE, there are templates with plenty of digitally fillable space to both plan and schedule a unit study. Yes, you can type right into them! Alternatively, if you want to handwrite into them, of course you can print them out and do so.

I'll back up a little to step #1.

In step #1, during your family discussion, narrow down several topics that your children are interested in studying this homeschool year. Be sure to use Google to help you all during your family brainstorming session. Therefore, bring your phone, laptop, or other device or computer for your Google searches.

How to Use a Unit Study Brainstorming Template

Watch the video tutorial below about how to use NatureGlo's unit study brainstorming template.

Below is a sampling of what your family's topical brainstorm discussion template could look like using NatureGlo's Unit Study Brainstorming template found in NatureGlo's Unit Study Planner BUNDLE.

Say your family is really into skateboarding. Thus the red arrow pointing to the main learning topic of skateboarding in the brainstorming template below.

TIP: You can use multiple brainstorming template copies for additional topics.

Skateboarding unit study brainstorm

1. Red Arrow - Main Topic. - Choose ONE topic that your child(ren) is/are most interested in learning about and write/type it into the circle. See my skateboarding topic example above.

2. Pink Arrow - Unit Study Books. You and your kids would come up with skateboarding book titles off the top of your head or via Google searching, and jot them down in NatureGlo's brainstorming template. This book list can include books from your local library, eBooks urls found online, or books you already have at home or ones that you could borrow from friends or family.

As you and your kiddos get into the unit study learning experience, you'll want to find one MAIN book or visual encyclopedia about the main topic that satisfies multiple curiosities your kids have and use it as a main reference or "spine." Many topics that your child could adore may have an entire encyclopedia dedicated to it. My personal favorites are the visual encyclopedias from Dorling Kindersley, Smithsonian, and Usborne, all found at your local library or easily ordered via Amazon.com. These main "spine" books can be your strong unit study jumping off point (pun kinda intended) for naturally finding your other core subject connections.

3. Green Arrow - Movies/Shows. - Look together for movie ideas online or you and your kids may already know of some movie/show ideas. 

4. Purple Arrow - Unit Study Online resources. Simply look for online resources related to skateboarding. Use keywords or keyword phrases in your Internet searches that match your kids' specific interests.

For example:

  • Skateboarding tricks
  • Skateboard art
  • Skateboard physics etc. 

Search for those terms and either copy/paste or write in the urls into the brainstorming template.

5. Aqua Arrow - Unit Study Activities/Projects. - Brainstorm skateboarding activities the kids would love to do. Consider experiments, building projects, and arts & crafts.

6. Yellow Arrow - Unit Study Field Trips. Brainstorm all the possibilities and opportunities there could be in your local neighborhood and surrounding area of skateboarding related field trips you can do. My personal favorite is visiting a skateboard factory, if such a place existed within a driveable distance.

7. Peach Arrow - Unit Study Materials. After you and your family have brainstormed all of the other resources, coming up with a list of materials should be simple. Think about the activities you want to do and come up with a rough draft of materials you'll need to do those activities.

After your family unit study brainstorming discussion, now you'll have a superb jumping off point to sit down in a quiet place, to plan out the rest of the unit study.

The rest of the planning process doesn't have to take hours and hours to do, unless you want to and have the time. 



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Unit Study Planner BUNDLE
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How to Plan a Mini Unit Study Using a Seashore Sample 

Watch the video tutorial below about how to use NatureGlo's unit study brainstorming template.

Here's an example, using NatureGlo's Mini Unit Study Planner template, on what planning can look like with all the major unit study resource planning categories found on one page.

This time, we'll use a sampling of the Seashore Unit study, of which the full version is included in NatureGlo's Unit Study Planner BUNDLE.

Let's have a look at the Mini Unit Study planner template partially filled in using a seashore unit study as our example this time.

Mini Unit Study Seashore Plan

Planning a mini unit study is great for when your kids have a fleeting interest in a topic. If their interest grows during a study, however, you can always graduate to using the longer unit study templates found in NatureGlo's Unit Study Planner BUNDLE, which divides up each resource type into its own dedicated page.  

As you can see, with this Mini Unit Study template, you have much more space than you had with the Brainstorming template to write or type in more Book & ebook titles/authors. Same thing with the Videos/Websites and Games/Activities/Field Trips spaces. If you write or type small enough, you can squeeze a lot of resources in those spaces.

NatureGlo's Longer/Spacious Unit Study Templates

Here are 4 templates, 1 per major planning category, below. 

4 Spacious Unit Study Planner Templates

The major unit study planning categories include:

  • Books & eBooks - both physical and digital books
  • Websites - urls for your topic's web resources
  • Videos - including TV shows, YouTube videos, any online videos, or regular television shows
  • Games, Field Trips, Activities - which can include things such as science experiments, outdoor nature connection, travel, arts & crafts, board games, and more.

  • How to Use a Homeschool Daily Unit Study Plan 

    Next, you can use the Daily Unit Study Planner template and lay out as many days as you want ahead of time.

    1. Main topic. You would add your main unit study topic at the top with the day's date. This can flex as you may have enough content to cover more than a day.
    2. Materials needed. Here you would add your books titles, ebook urls, projects/activities physical materials
    3. Subjects covered. Use this space to add in all the core subject connections. Example: Seashore math - collect seashells and make patterns. Language arts - Read the story of Sally Playing with Seashells at the Seashore (I know...a silly example). You would do that for each core subject you're covering that day.
    4. Next Day Prep. The best time to plan that is at the end of any activity that you know will carry over into the next day. PRO HOT TIP: While it's fresh in your mind, jot down what you might need for the next day's activity in this space.

    Running Short on Unit Study Planning Time?

    If you're running short on time, you can always dive into your homeschool day just using your unit study resources on the fly following your kiddos interests. When in doubt, do a read aloud with them including discussion and journaling with sketches. Read alouds are one of my favorite go-to fall-backs either to prevent or gently steer kids away from or out of chaos.

    At the end of your homeschool unit study day you can record what you covered in the Daily Unit Study Planner alongside writing about your day's adventures in NatureGlo's Unit Study Planner Journal. 

    NatureGlo's Unit Study Journal

    Here's NatureGlo's daily journaling template. Use this for recording the events of the day in a "journal" storytelling fashion so that you have something fun to remember your years of learning by.

    Finally, you'll want to set aside and keep these sheets in a folder or a binder. I highly suggest hole punching all of them (that is, if you're printing them out) and saving them in a 3-ring binder. This will become your content saved for your homeschool record-keeping and reporting.

    Lastly, after you start completing unit studies with your kids, you can use NatureGlo's Unit Study Record of Completion. See the sample below.

    Unit Study Record of Completion Example



    FOR JUST $25 $10!

    Unit Study Planner BUNDLE
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    Planning a unit study doesn't have to be hard, terrifying, or overwhelming. I've created NatureGlo's Unit Study Planner BUNDLE aiding you for making your next unit study planning process easier, more organized, and aimfully, more fun, and enjoyable than ever before.

    Once you get into the groove of planning your own unit studies focused on your kiddos top learning interests, you'll never look back.

    WARNING: Unit study planning can get addictive. You begin to see all of the creative possibilities that your kids will love and adore. You might even start to fall in love with the research process like I did.

    Imagine you and your kids jumping up out of bed in the morning, putting your feet on the floor ready to run, no dive into your learning day because you're excited about your unit study topic!

    Finally! This is real!

    This can be you!

    You've got THIS unit study thang!

    Go ahead now and toss down a comment.

    Tell me, do you feel better equipped now to jump into your first or next unit study discussion with your kids followed by unit study planning?

    Share in the comments below.

    Talk soon!

    Gloria Brooks aka NatureGlo