Unit Studies can be a fun and frugal way of homeschooling your child. Or, if you are not a homeschooler, they can be a fun way to extend your child's learning at home-especially over the summer. But, what exactly is a unit study? A unit study is a theme-based or one topic idea which includes most or all subjects. For instance, perhaps your child is interested in horses. You can use this subject to teach math, science, art, history, and even some language arts. It can take a bit of research to get it started, but once you figure out how to find your info, it becomes easier and easier to plan out the unit studies.
We will look deeper into the theme of horses--we did this when my kids were younger and turned it into a lapbook-I will post about lapbooks later on. But, you can easily make notebooks with your unit study as well. For the horse unit, our math included learning about how horses are measured-by hands. We converted this into inches, and then I measured each child. From there, we converted the inches back into hands and made a chart showing how many hands high each child was. We also used the measuring tape to show how high different breeds of horses were. This math was converting inches, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and just basic measuring :) Lots of math right there, huh? For History, we learning the impact of horses on different time periods. What were they used for? When were the first horses ever used? When were the introduced into the U.S.? How does that compare to how they are used today? Another chart was made and placed into our lapbook. For art, we got the book "Leonardo's Horse". It was about Leonardo DiVinci's bronze horse statue he made. Not only did this book give us art direction-it also provided science on bronzing. And, I suppose it also gave us some historical teaching as well :) See how this works-you start in one area and easily branch out.
Now, not all unit studies will provide you with every lesson-not all will give you a math opportunity. Not all will provide you with history. But, if you plan it correctly, most of them will! And, as I said before, as you do more and more of these, they will come very easy to you. And, don't be surprised when your child comes up to you with their own ideas for unit studies!
To help you learn more, I have found some really great links:
About.com Homeschooling goes right to the unit study page-lots of great info on getting started, notebooking, etc..
A to Z Home's Cool Unit Study links