I love unit studies. I don't care for textbooks, primarily because I like the freedom to teach in the moment, using their interests, following rabbit trails, and moving on when needed. However, I do like the convenience of our language arts books, for example. I open the book to Lesson 27, and we read and copy 4 words. Done! Tomorrow we will open to Lesson 28 and read and discuss a poem. I love the simplicity and ease of use. Well, it occurred to me that perhaps I could apply the same idea to a unit study. So here is what I came up with.
We will be studying weather through the end of this school year, so that is about 70 days. I have about fifteen files on weather on my flashdrive. But many of those files consist of various resources with no order and no lesson plan. I started a document and numbered the left hand side up to 70. Then I started looking through the resources. Oh, here's four poems to copy about the weather. So I spread them out and assigned them to various lesson numbers. Then I found a tornado safety coloring book. I stuck that in. I tried to group by topic, but I didn't do perfectly. I figure that revisiting a topic as we go along will simply serve as review. So I filled all seventy lessons with copywork, crafts, visiting internet sites, experiments, flaschcards, even beginning readers about weather. Each lesson over the course of several days is a little different. Each lesson can be completed in about 15 minutes.
I then went a little crazy. I printed out my list of 70 lessons, and started at lesson 1. I copied everything I needed for lesson 1 for each child. (double sided whenever possible) Then I put a little P by lesson one to show it was printed. I worked through the list, and printed everything, laminated the flashcards, and collected the books we would be reading from. Everything went in a sweater size plastic box with my lesson list on top. Now I can simply pull out our weather box, look at the next lesson, pull out the required materials, and voila! We successfully completed science for the day. The date is then written next to #1.
This is working well for us so far. See, I know myself. If I don't have everything ready to go, it is all too easy to just put it off. I also can be easily scared off by vagueness or lengthy lessons. This method solves all my problems. If unit studies have been a little scary or disorganized for you, why not give this a try? I wrote out the lessons in about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, and took about 2 hours to print everything, but now I am set for the next 70 days.
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