What is a Unit Study?
A unit study is designed to dive into a topic in a fun, creative, hands-on way. The unit study teaching method is effective for a variety of learners as it incorporates differentiated learning styles while integrating multiple subjects.
The themed unit study approach explores a topic through the lens of multiple subjects. The study may weave together science, history, arts & crafts, reading, writing, geography and more. This learning approach can help children develop into self-motivated learners as they become captivated and want to dive deeper into a topic to learn even more.
Unit studies are typically interactive and hands-on, making this a great option for incorporating various learning styles. And the unit study method helps children understand the pieces of a whole as they fit together.
For example, during a Planet Earth unit study kids might learn the names of continents and oceans, the locations of continents and oceans on a map, how explorers traveled the oceans and discovered new land, why the ocean is salty or how deep is the Earth’s core. They begin to develop critical thinking skills as they see how things work together in the world.
How to Create a Unit Study:
Learning Unbound unit studies were designed for pre-K to 3rd grade — a childhood stage all about learning through play! Because of that, this is one of the easiest and best stages for implementing unit studies. Have fun exploring a topic your child is interested in! Here are some tips for creating and implementing the unit study learning experience:
1. Choose a Unit Study Theme
There’s no limit to the topics you can choose for a unit study! Is there a subject your kids are especially interested in? What about a season/holiday, period of history, or a science topic you’d like to dive into?
Here at Learning Unbound, we like to choose a unit study topic based on the educational standards and goals set for our kids — whether we’re following state standards or our family’s homeschooling goals.
2. Create a Book List
Search for themed books that fit the age and interest level of your kids, as well as cover the topics you’re going to explore throughout your unit study.
For example, if you’re doing a unit study about Planet Earth, you may look for books on continents, oceans, ecosystems, landforms, caring for the planet, and more. Look for colorful picture books and interesting chapter books — both non-fiction and fiction, which will help you dive deeper into the topic.
And don’t forget coloring and activity books! They can also add a lot of fun to the theme!
Our Book Recommendations
One of our favorite features included in Learning Unbound unit studies is a suggested book list of our favorite unit-themed picture, chapter and activity books — both fiction and non-fiction.
Once you’re ready to gather the themed books for your unit study, check your own bookshelves, the library, bookstore, or online shopping sites. Our go-to favorites:
- AMAZON: Of course! Search “children’s books about….” Once you find one good book, you’ll see the related suggestions underneath (which can take you down a whole rabbit hole of books about the topic!).
- BOOKOUTLET: So many gems (and deals!) at the gently used online bookstore. Never shopped there before? Use our link to get $10 off $25! And at these used prices, that’s a whole lot of books!
- USBORNE BOOKS & MORE: We’re obsessed. Seriously — some of the best quality non-fiction books out there. They’re the books our kids reach for most often and WANT to read over and over. And that feels like a win all.day.long.
3. Watch or Listen to Unit-themed Media
While we suggest books as the basis of your unit study — videos, music, and podcasts have their place and can really enhance a theme! Search for kid-friendly videos that educate, entertain and bring another level of interest to the topic. Documentaries can often be useful, as well as short clips on YouTube, episodes from educational shows, and more.
Learning Unbound unit studies often include links to mom-previewed videos or songs that are accessible with a convenient QR code or tested internet link.
4. Assemble a Sensory Bin for Small World Play
We are ALLLLL about sensory experiences as a hands-on way to learn, and we especially love incorporating small world play into our unit studies!
Small world play is all about creating a life scene for a child to play with. The goal is to set up tangible opportunities to act out ideas or stories from real life. Often, sensory elements are included in these small scenes. This kind of sensory and imaginative play can be rich time of learning, language building, and subject/story comprehension.
One unique feature of Learning Unbound unit study kits is that we send you all the supplies you need to set up a small world sensory bin experience. Kids LOVE incorporating this creative small world play into their day.
5. Create an Art, Craft, or Science Project
Pinterest can be your best friend when searching for fun projects to go with your unit study. Incorporate themed art projects, crafts, science experiments and more. Visit our Pinterest boards to see a collection of curated unit study ideas.
6. Go on a Field Trip
It can be really fun to wrap up a theme with a field trip to a museum or other location that supports the unit study topic. Go big, or keep it simple — the location isn’t what matters as much as the memories you create and the opportunity to connect and apply your book studies to the real world.
Go bird watching after studying birds, to the beach after an ocean unit, or a space museum after exploring the moon. Take lots of pictures and celebrate the learning opportunities you’ve just experienced.
7. Rinse and Repeat!
Choose the next theme, and start your new unit study and learning fun, all over again!
Download a FREE mini study and explore PLANET EARTH with two printable activities, a sensory experience, a sweet treat, and a recommended book list.