How to Create an Amazing Homeschool Unit Study in 5 Simple Steps

how to create a homeschool unit study

Creating an awesome homeschool unit study can be easy with these 5 simple steps!

Creating a homeschool unit study may seem like a daunting task, but it certainly isn’t impossible! In fact, when you use our 5-step plan, you might even be surprised by how easy it is!

Positive things about unit studies:

Before we get into the nitty-gritty about how to design your first homeschool unit study, let’s really quickly cover why many homeschool moms love them! 

Unit studies are a great way to:

  • Teach multiple ages or grades at once
  • Cater to your kids’ like and interests
  • Incorporate lots of school subjects under one large topic

Related article: What is a Homeschool Unit Study? And Why Do Homeschool Moms Love Them? 

Really, the only downside to using the unit study method is that it often requires more work to plan and carry out than other homeschool approaches. 

But when you follow these 5 simple steps, creating your homeschool unit study can be so much easier! 

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Step 1: Choose a broad topic 

To begin your unit study preparation, it’s important to choose a broad topic.

Start by thinking about what particular interest you or your children have. Do you have a child who loves airplanes? You could design a unit study about flight. Or does your child have a passion for animals? This could become a great unit study about the animal kingdom. 

When you choose a unit study topic that is based on your kids’ interests, it’s likely that your kids will be more attentive to the material they’ll be learning. 

Before you start creating your unit study, you could have a brainstorming session with your kids to get a good feel for what they are interested in learning.

At this stage, don’t worry too much about various activities and assignments for your kids to do in association with the unit study. 

Just choose a broad topic and we’ll go from there! 

Free printable Homeschool Unit Study Planning Sheet

To make the process of creating a homeschool unit study as simple as possible, download and print our Homeschool Unit Study Planning Sheet right here! It’s free!

free unit study planner

Here’s a list of common unit study topics to get your mind going: 

History-based unit studies

  • Ancient Egypt
  • Ancient Greece
  • 7 Wonders of the Ancient World
  • Ancient China
  • Ancient India
  • The Middle Ages
  • Renaissance
  • The Crusades
  • World Explorers
  • American Revolution
  • The Industrial Revolution
  • American Civil War
  • Presidents of the United States
  • The Gold Rush

Science-based unit study topics

  • Dinosaurs
  • Solar System/Universe
  • Human Body
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Botany/Gardening
  • Oceans 
  • World Ecosystems
  • Weather and Climate
  • Flight 
  • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Natural Disasters
  • Geology
  • Transportation

Literature-based unit study ideas

  • The Chronicles of Narnia 
  • The Little House on the Prairie series
  • The American Girl series
  • Charlotte’s Web

Geography-based unit studies

  • Continents
  • U.S. States
  • Any specific country (ie: France, Italy, Japan, China, etc.) 

Biography-Based unit studies

  • Choose any historical figure and learn about his or her life

Step 2: Gather resources 

After you’ve chosen your homeschool unit study topic, it’s time to gather resources you can potentially use. 

Before you feel the need to start buying anything, look for free resources that are available to you. 

Where to find resources for your homeschool unit study

The best place to start collecting resources for your homeschool unit study is your local public library. Start by looking for books, videos, and periodicals about your topic. 

the library is the best place to start creating your homeschool unit study

There are sure to be plenty of online resources for you to use when you create your homeschool unit study, but having a tangible book for your kids to see and hold is often very helpful.

Many public libraries have a hold system that may allow you to specify which books you want, so you can quickly pop in and check them out. Then when you’re creating your homeschool unit study, you can sort through the books, keep the best ones, and return the others to the library. 

As mentioned briefly, looking online for resources for your homeschool unit study can yield tons of results. 

It’s helpful to add words such as “for kids” or “unit study” to any informational search to pare down your results.

How many resources will I need when I create a homeschool unit study? 

The number of resources you’ll need for your unit study will depend on several things:

  1. How many kids you have in your homeschool
  2. Their grades and learning abilities
  3. How long you want your unit study to last

For example, if you have 3 elementary-aged kids, you’ll need far fewer resources than a homeschool mom with 3 kids who are in high school, middle school, and 3rd grade. 

Additionally, it’s common to need a larger number of shorter books if your kids are young, whereas if your kids are older, you may need fewer, more in-depth resources instead. 

Humorous homeschool mom moment

One evening a few years ago, I was at our local library gathering resources for a new homeschool unit study about the American Revolution. It was only a few minutes before closing time, and the custodian had just begun to vacuum the children’s section. 

He saw me loading book after book into my cavernous library bag. Promptly, he turned off his vacuum and said, “You must be a homeschool mom!” 

To which I replied, “I am, but how did you know?” 

Smiling he said, “Well, all homeschool moms have a giant bag and they come in here and load it down with so many books they can hardly carry it. It looks exactly like you’re fixin’ to do that too!” 

He was 100% right, and I sure did!

funny homeschool mom moment

Step 3: Gather ideas

After you have a broad range of resources, it’s time to start searching for ideas for lessons and activities. 

Pinterest is a fantastic place to start! Simply type in your topic, plus the words “homeschool unit study” and you may be amazed at what you’ll find! 

To make it even easier, you can check out our Homeschool Unit Study Pinterest Board right here to see tons of great ideas for homeschool unit studies! 

You’ll want to look for ideas that would work for lots of different school subjects, such as writing, history, science, art, handwriting, literature, and possibly even math!

Be sure to use our free Printable Homeschool Unit Study Planner to record your favorite ideas as you go!

Finally, if you don’t want to put a ton of time and effort into planning your homeschool unit study, you can purchase a pre-made unit study or buy a guided unit study or project ideas book! 

Some of our favorites are:

Pin the image below to save this article to your Pinterest!

how to make a homeschool unit study

Step 4: Choose 3 or more subtopics 

Once you’ve gathered books and ideas for lesson plans and homeschool activities, it’s time to organize what you’ve got! 

The easiest way to plan your homeschool unit study is to break your large topic down into three or more subtopics. 

For example, if your unit study is about European Explorers, you could break it down into several subtopics, such as:

  1. Christoper Columbus and the early explorers
  2. Magellan and circumnavigating the globe
  3. The Spanish conquistadors

If your unit study is about the Human Body, you could divide that into subtopics for each of the major systems, such as:

  1. Respiratory system
  2. Cardiovascular system
  3. Skeletal system
  4. Nervous system
  5. Digestive system
  6. Reproductive system

For a biographical unit study, you could divide your unit study into stages of the person’s life. For a unit study about William Shakespeare, you could try using these possible subtopics:

  1. Shakespeare’s early life and influences
  2. Beginnings as a poet
  3. Major plays 
  4. The Globe theatre

Once you’ve decided on your subtopics for your homeschool unit study, you’ll be ready to start scheduling it! 

Step 5: Schedule your unit study

The last thing you need to do to create your unit study is to schedule it out! 

Most unit studies last from 2-3 weeks, but some that are very broad may last as long as six weeks. 

use a pencil to schedule your homeschool unit study

Having subtopics makes it a lot easier to schedule your unit study. 

A very simple rule of them is to give each subtopic one week of focus. Of course, this can vary widely depending on your needs, so feel free to adjust as needed! 

To schedule your unit study, you’ll need a blank calendar or homeschool planner and a pencil. 

(You’ll definitely want to use a pencil during this planning stage so you can make changes as needed. You can always go back and color code subjects later if you’d like!)

Write in each subtopic and then each day’s activities, books, or resources on your calendar. You’ll want to make sure to have a variety of different subjects each day to keep it balanced. 

Once you have your unit study scheduled out on paper, it’s time to let the learning begin!

Tips for planning a homeschool unit study

Here are a few more tips to help you create a homeschool unit study that’s a great experience:

-Be sure to have all of your website links, books, supplies, etc ready to go in the morning so you’re prepared and ready 

-If your kids get particularly interested in one of your subtopics, don’t worry about spending some extra time! The beauty of a unit study is that it is a great opportunity for you to cater your homeschool learning to your kids’ interests. 

-There’s no need to rush a unit study. While many public schools focus on teaching a broad range of topics, Harvard researchers have recognized the benefits of teaching fewer subjects more deeply. 

-Be open to adding extra books, activities, etc as you go. You may find out about a great field trip opportunity or come across the perfect activity book that you didn’t know about when you planned the unit study.

-Consider taking a field trip at the end of your unit study to reinforce all of the things your kids have learned

How to learn more about how to make a homeschool unit study

For an even deeper look into how to create a homeschool unit study, these books were my very first homeschool purchases and have proven invaluable in planning our unit studies:

Unit Studies Made Easy by Valerie Bendt – This was one of my earliest homeschool purchases (in 2013!) and it was and is incredibly helpful. No longer in print, you can find an inexpensive used copy that’s in good condition or better. 

Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp – This book is filled with over 500 pages of information about what your kids should be learning in each year of school, from preschool through high school. If you are seriously thinking about using the unit study approach in your homeschool, this book will be a treasure trove of ideas and possible unit study topics! 

Books Children Love by Elizabeth Wilson – A fantastic guide to finding great literature selections for any homeschool unit study! 

Final thoughts about how to plan a homeschool unit study

Planning a homeschool unit study can be a daunting task. At first the planning a preparation may take a long time. 

But as with so many things, the more practice you get, the easier it becomes! And once you complete your first homeschool unit study, you just might be hooked!

Don’t forget to grab the free homeschool unit study planner from the Free Resource Library!

Related articles about homeschool unit studies:

-What is a Homeschool Unit Study? And Why Do People Love Them?

What are your thoughts on how to create a homeschool unit study?

Pin the image below to return to this article in the future!

5 simple steps to learn how to create a homeschool unit study
How to Create an Amazing Homeschool Unit Study in 5 Simple StepsHow to Create an Amazing Homeschool Unit Study in 5 Simple StepsHow to Create an Amazing Homeschool Unit Study in 5 Simple StepsHow to Create an Amazing Homeschool Unit Study in 5 Simple Steps

Hi there! I’m so glad you’re here! I’m Jen, a former reluctant homeschool mom who is ready to help you actually enjoy homeschooling too. Read more here…

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