In Search of a Unit Study for Children

My unit studies are a way to combine education plus fun. They start with an interesting topic, and then as the child learns more about the topic they will also learn aspects of English, Art, Math, Geography, Science, and more. The idea is to get kids interested in learning by making learning fun.

I started writing unit studies when homeschooling my youngest son. He was not the type of child who likes to sit and read. It was a bit more of a challenge teaching him as his attention span was not long. So at first, I created a unit study about Pirates.

He was thrilled to learn about pirates, to read about Blackbeard, figure out weights according to cannonball size, draw a wanted poster, and even learns map and compass skills. And so, we continued with Soldiers through Time which was a seven module unit study that ranged in history from Ancient Roman Soldiers to Soldiers of World War II.

After helping my son get interested in learning I thought maybe the unit studies could help others enjoy learning too! And so come a unit study on Spies, one on Cowboys and Superheroes as well as a three-part unit study on Forts across Canada. These unit studies became known as Education with a Bang series to help add excitement to education, specifically for boys.

Fashion through Textiles, a four-part unit study featuring wool, silk, cotton, and linen as well as the unit study on Herbology is part of the new line of unit studies that would be more appealing to girls but equally combine fun with education.

I continue to create unit studies and have many ideas in my head for new ones but sometimes I am not sure which one to start next. Constellations and the Mythology behind them sound very interesting. What about the History of Pets and how they became domesticated? Or what about Biomimicry – technology inspired by nature?

I just love to research the various topics and put them into a fun and interesting unit study that will help inspire children to learn. One 11-year-old boy who was reviewing Science Inspired by Superheroes was blown away by the fact that you could learn science from superheroes and chose to do the unit study instead of play on the Wii! What a great reward!

And so I continue, finding interesting topics to put into the fun and educational unit studies – always on the lookout for new ideas!

Sandra Wilson is an experienced home educator that is dedicated to putting the fun back into education!


The Northgate to Consider Elementary Alignment in Education

The Northgate School District is investigating the possibility of reorganizing its two elementary schools so that one building is used for K-3 students while the other would be used to teach students in grades 4-6. This Monday, January 26th, at 7:00 there will be a meeting at the high school to discuss the feasibility of such an idea. I would like to briefly discuss my thoughts on the matter.

First, it seems to me that moving to a K-3, 4-6 model makes a lot of educational sense. Some teachers and administrators have noted that having all teachers of a particular grade teaching together in the same building would enable more collaboration and help with curriculum alignment.

Some people have also mentioned that such a move could bring greater unity as a district. Another educational benefit would be the possibility of having smaller class sizes due to being able to evenly distribute students in each grade level.

I think this is not only the greatest benefit, but for me, it is the reason why the district needs to continue to pursue this option. For the past two years, elementary class sizes of been considerately higher than many would prefer, and in both years, the district made the decision to hire additional elementary school teachers months into the school year.

Several students have had to move back and forth between elementary schools, on occasion more than once, so that class sizes could be made somewhat manageable. I feel that it is imperative that we stop moving children back and forth between elementary schools in such fashion.

Some people have also noted some cons to such a move. The biggest one that comes to mind is that some students that walk to school may now have to walk a greater distance. Families with multiple elementary school-aged children could have added complexity in getting there kids to school if they attend two different schools.

Safety patrols are comprised of fifth and sixth-grade students so they would only exist at one school. Also, there would likely be some cost in preparing the buildings for such a transition. I think these issues are significantly outweighed by the education benefits previously discussed. I also think many of them can be solved or worked around.

It is possible that there are other benefits\problems that I did not discuss. If you would like to learn more or would like to add to the conversation, please consider attending the meeting this Monday. As I have said, it is my belief that reorganizing the schools would be very beneficial.

I would take that a step further and would say the district MUST proceed with such a move unless doing so presents a far greater problem that has not yet been discovered. It is imperative that we stop shuffling students between schools and do what is best for all the elementary school students.


The Importance of Education Home or School and a Book

Educational importance before the industrial revolution was tied to:

1:- Learning.

2:- Preparation for wise leadership and personal achievement.

3:- Opening your mind to new ideas.

These are the requirements we can assume from all education. If these steps are not being achieved than a change in how children are taught is required.

When a child does not want a particular food then we suggest they just try a bit to taste it before they decide. So can be said for educational subjects Instead of assuming a child won’t like a subject or need a subject, we should let them try it – he/she may just like it.

I have always wondered how we can determine the career that will carry us through our life with only a few courses of introduction. I was very excited about studying Archaeology, then I took the first course and found that the preliminary work, gridding and such was not something I would enjoy doing endlessly. But I went in with an open mind and learned that that was not the path for me.

I am not a fan of the variety of requirements needed in order to receive enough credits for a high school diploma. Something from this group, two from that group, etc. Although it offers the choice to the student, it also limits choices and opportunities for them to excel at the subjects they enjoy the most.

Often, courses that are not suited to the student, but are required for a diploma can discourage learning and create avoidance of that class, or school altogether. As a homeschooler, I have been able to offer my children a variety of lessons, determined the ones that are not suitable, and finish them up early so as not to prolong the agony of an unwanted subject.

Students with choice, variety, and the ability to switch out of a lesson that is not working for them are learning, opening their minds to new ideas, and preparing the best base for personal achievement. Fulfilling all steps in the importance of education helps fulfill the student as well!

DiDi LeMay offers a heartwarming story of a little girl who sets out on a journey to feed the winter animals, and possibly see one or two while she walks in the woods. After exploring the forest for a little while she experiences a talking encounter with a squirrel. Although she tries to leave the forest she discovers that she is lost. She stumbles across a meeting of forest animals, some, not so friendly.

The little girl finds herself amidst an argument about humans and their disrespect for the environment, the animals, and the world around them. Then the girl begins an adventure that proves to the animals that not all humans disrespect nature, and she can help them. While rooting on this little girl on her quest it is a celebration between animals and humans that should be emulated around the world!


You Should Know About Childbirth Education and Education Fun

Strong Sexy Birth (formerly known as Biodynamic Childbirth), is a wellness-based and holistic approach to labor and birth that focuses on using the least amount of intervention necessary to maintain the well-being of both mother and baby. This modality of childbirth preparation encourages the birthing woman to be in the driver’s seat of her own birth experience.

Mamas and their partners learn and create their own “birth toolkit” of comfort techniques and coping strategies to naturally encourage the production of the hormones that will enhance the labor process and result in a more comfortable, positive, and empowering birth experience.

I believe that every woman should have the birth she desires, whether it be at home, in a birth center, or in the hospital, and Strong Sexy Birth techniques and philosophies can be used in any setting. When empowered, informed, and prepared, it is possible to have a confident and empowering birth anywhere, even if medical intervention is necessary.  It is important for you to feel safe and confident in your birthing environment and with the people surrounding and supporting you.

It is also very important for birth partners to feel well-prepared and confident in their abilities to support their birthing mamas both physically and emotionally throughout the birthing time. My goal is to help women and their partners to have the most satisfying birth experience possible by sharing the knowledge and tools I have gained through my life experiences and formal training. Giving birth is a normal, natural, challenging, and magical life event that will have a profound effect on your family.

Childbirth education empowers you with information to make informed choices regarding your care during this important time and increases your trust in your body’s own primal and innate ability to bring your baby into this world in the way you desire. My childbirth and postpartum classes will reduce your fear and anxiety surrounding birth and increase your confidence as you approach parenthood.

The big thinkers in education emphasize customized or individualized learning as the wave of the future

This is not a new concept to homeschoolers who teach individualized learning every day. One of the great methods to customize this individual learning is through unit studies. With a unit study, the concepts of English, Maths, Science, Geography, History, and Art can be reinforced, while the student is learning about a subject they really enjoy.

If the subject is interesting and enjoyable, it will be easier to learn and the student will be more willing to learn. Unit studies focus on a specific topic; they can create an introduction to that topic and inspire further study.

They can supplement other educational resources to provide a bit of learning on their own, or even on the go. Unit studies are adaptable to a child; you can use only the activities/lessons that fit your child’s learning level or interest level rather than using everything and possibly causing a student to not have fun while learning.

You can create your own unit study about a topic that interests that child right now. Maybe your son wants a pirate birthday party – why not spend the week before on a pirate unit study that teaches as well as adds some fun. In the spring you can start a garden, keep a garden journal, learn about plants, etc. in a unit study based on the wonders of the garden.

There are so many unit studies available for download or in magazines and books that you could find one for almost any topic of interest to your child. Why not try your hand at putting one together. Search for worksheets, reading comprehension, crafts, and science experiments that fit into that theme.


The Love of Learning and Children is Different So It Should Be How We Teach Them

Recently I just read about a charity that is helping to supply books to homeless shelters, battered women’s shelters, etc. in order to give the kids there something to read. Imagine the gift these books will be to allow kids to soar away with their imagination and leave behind the cruel world around them.

“I met a child who loved to read but didn’t own a book. I found a lot more like her when I took a closer look.

I rallied troops to help me and we sought books by the heap. And now we find the kids in need and give them books for keeps!”

This is the motto for Books for Keeps which I think is worth all of us adopting.

Another great way to help give books to others is through Book Mooch. This is a book swap site in which you post books you wish to give thereby earning points. You can then use your earned points to choose books you would like to mooch from others.

Your only cost is the shipping cost of the books that are mooched from you! I often have people ask if I have a certain book, and if I can find it on there for free I will pass it along to them! You can also donate your points to a charity that can then acquire the books they need.

This month Usborne books are offering to donate one dollar in books to Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada for every dollar of books purchased Usborne Books at Home.

Our online educational thrift store is also sharing the love, and with every $10.00 order, a book will be donated to a local charity that gives books to kids in shelters at Christmastime.

Many local libraries also collect new books in order to give the gift of reading to those less fortunate. Books are such an integral part of learning, and learning is an important part of life. So giving the gift of reading is necessary so that there is at least one book for all!

Anyone with more than one child can compare and contrast their children. They may have similar mannerisms yet opposing interests and sometimes you may wonder how two could have sprung from the same womb! Children are different; they have different interests, different focuses, and different learning styles. So too, must the teaching style for them be different.

My first child was pretty easy to homeschool. He was a book kid, loved worksheets, and would sit for hours working on a project. My second child is not as keen of a reader, would prefer not to have to write, and won’t sit for hours to do anything. These differences are not a variance in intelligence, just in how and what they learn.

With both children, one of the main things I did was teach what interested them. My eldest son studied Medieval history at least five times. Each time had a different focus, an increased measure of learning and new projects to work on. The younger son enjoyed Medieval History as long as he was reading about knights, catapults, and the siege of a castle, but really only wanted to study it once.

And so, while one child created graphs about the plague, the other crafted medieval weapons from cardboard, tinfoil and duct tape. Since each activity was premised with a discussion or reading about the time period the history lesson was still being taught, just in different styles.

The older child struggled a bit with math, but when lessons involved money, things made sense! And so, many math lessons allowed counting, converting, and problem-solving with money. The youngest struggled with geography but enjoyed cooking. So, we traveled the world learning about common foods and recipes found in various countries.

Free yourself from the “typical” school regime, especially with a more active, reluctant student. Create lessons through field trips, music, crafts, athletics, and unit studies that fill the needs of each student. This encourages them to learn because they enjoy the subject and the manner with which it is taught!