Creating a Unit of Study Step One: Figure Out What You Want to Teach

First let me start out by saying that I am a big proponent of studying in big blocks that are called Units. That just means that you pick a topic and you study it for a certain amount of time. I preferred this when I was a professional educator and even now working with Charlie–I just don’t see the point in sitting down and planning just one day–not to mention shopping for supplies, getting out my laminator, etc. Yes, I have a laminator, and yes, I realize how ridiculous that makes me sound. Please forgive me–old habits die hard.

So, you decide on a topic. How do you decide? This is pretty easy. If you have a young child, look and see what topics are being covered by Elmo, Rachel Coleman, or even your local library. If your child is older, your state should have a list of standards for each grade level. The Common Core initiative actually has a list for every grade level in a variety of subject areas. I purused the Kindergarten list and got some ideas for things to do with Charlie.

Maybe you’re still not sure. Here are a few questions to help you figure out what you want to teach your child:

  1. What are they already interested in?
  2. What types of things would you like them to know?
  3. What are typical kids doing?

So are you excited yet? Do you know exactly what you want to teach your child? If not, here are some suggestions for Units for young children. Please keep in mind, if your child isn’t young physically, but is young mentally, then you might want to start with these things as well:

  • Breakfast foods
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Plants
  • Barnyard animals
  • Jungle animals
  • Pond animals
  • Animals around the house
  • Ocean animals
  • Transportation (we’re starting this one tomorrow!)
  • Opposites
  • Action words
  • Shapes
  • Colors
  • Seasons
  • Body parts
  • Bed time
  • Bath time
  • Clothes
  • Family
  • Instruments
  • School
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  1. hey Katy! I love the Unit study Idea! We have followed a vague line around this often and i think that this may be our course of study starting this fall! I always think "Gosh, I wish they did that when I was in school, I would have loved that! Immersion"

  2. Oh, thank you for this idea so much! I really want to do some stuff this spring/summer to get Addy ready for preschool (gah: I thought preschool WAS the getting ready part of school, but now I'm feeling concern that there's so little true "learning" routines in our day that even preschool might feel daunting to her.) I love these ideas. So much more fun than "Come on Addy, let's practice writing your letters again!"

  3. Kristina says:

    Good tip. And, I have a laminator, too, and use it liberally!!!

  4. I love this post…and I've been thinking along these lines recently. I'd like to start something with sadie….. I just need to decide where to start.

  5. blogzilly says:

    Looks like I need to pick myself up a Laminator.

  6. Oooh, I envy you that laminator.

    South Africa is currently busy with outcomes-based education – which has many many drawbacks. But one advantage is that they are using unit studies.

    If we do water as a theme we go and look at sources of water – like a river and dam, show them clouds over the mountains. We also play in water, let things float and sink, let them see how water adapts to the shape of anything it is poured into, we draw pictures related to water, we show them how water boil, play with ice, show evaporation and condensation etc. Makes a lot of sense to me.