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Wednesday, June 4

Flowers are Red (Harry Chapin)

Part III of III

We may use curriculum as the backbone of our school, but it is the unit studies that make it memorable and fun.  After all, if all flowers in the world were yellow, it would be a boring place.
Anyone can facilitate learning from a box, but a 'teacher' engages!  Find your child's E-spot, what engages him, and learning will fall into place.  Here are some tips for breaking away from the traditional and creating your own experience.

First, decide what matters most to your family, or where the focus will lie.  My husband and I are both into geography and history, so that's what we chose.  I create units based on our current location (typically ahead of time...if you know me, you know I'm Type-A all-the-way), and our at-home studies are one to two-week units on subjects that the kids choose.  This is how we end up doing seemingly random units on Ancient Asia (Lego Ninjago) and Scandinavia (doesn't everyone think Vikings are cool?).

Next, get a good daily planner, to help you to organize all of the pieces that you pull together.  This comprehensive homeschool planner is broken down by months, weeks, and days.  And don't forget the field trips!  There's nothing like learning through living - here is an easy to use field trip planner

While I'm responsible for doing all of the planning ahead, each of the kids has a daily dry erase chart, ensuring that they take some responsibility for completing their own work.  You can get a free copy of our daily planner over at Educents...we have one for boys and one for girls.

 Until I created a database of our library, trying to keep track of books was the hardest thing about planning unit studies.  I recommend cataloging books as they come in and out of your home.  It does take a few extra minutes, but when you're trying to remember if you have something (or where it is), you will be quickly rewarded.

We use a spreadsheet, but electronic book databases can help to organize and manage your growing library, and they are accessible from anywhere.

If you're not in the mood, or don't have the time, to pull together units, many of my posts have links to the books, movies, lapbooks, etc that we use for each unit.  (Most of the resources are free!)  Feel free to take advantage of these and use whatever you can.  If I don't have it up here yet, check Homeschool Share to see if they do.

Some sites will send out free unit studies on a regular basis.  Christian Home School emails free mini-units regularly and long unit studies monthly.  Homeschool Freebies and Homeschool Giveaways also have wonderful resources.

If you STILL can't find the lapbook or unit study you want, then maybe it's time to create your own.

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