This weeks topic for our blog cruise is “How to”. I have to admit, I racked my brain for a while to come up with something for this. I am not exactly known for my creativity. In fact, most of my best ideas come from the internet!! However, there is one thing I do like to do, and that is make my own unit studies for my kids. We love unit studies. Usually, I choose a topic they enjoy, then create activities for each subject based around this topic. For this post, I am going to tell you how I made a unit study about one of my sons favorite topics: CARS!
My older son (9th grade) loves cars! So for this unit study, I started with my local library (I use the library a lot). I did a search for books about cars in general, the history of cars, specific types of cars etc. etc. Using this search, I narrowed down which books I wanted to use, and built my unit study around them. I also did a web search for these same topics, and bookmarked ones I thought would be useful (like the Ford website for instance).
After that, I decided on a length of time for my study (usually I do them in 2-4 week cycles depending on how much information I can gather on a topic). Then I set my mind to deciding what types of activities to do. Keep in mind, these are just examples, you could certainly study whatever you wanted within a topic!
For history (which was easy) I decided to have my son focus on how and why cars were created. What did the first cars look like? How did they run? I also asked him to trace the history of a particular model (like the Ford Mustang for example). As part of this study he read a biography of Henry Ford (reading), created visual models of the different body types of the mustang, and wrote essays comparing the original models to the current models, and a summary of the life of Henry Ford (which covers English!).
For math: we studied and compared the cost of cars when they were first created to the cost of cars now, we talked about inflation, compared gas mileage, created graphs compaing the mileage of different cars, used the Kelly Blue book website to calculate the value of our current cars. We also talked about dealer mark-ups and compared the cost (and value) of used versus new cars.
Science: (this is an area where I am a little weak) We read about and discussed how cars are crash tested and talked about safety ratings. We also discussed velocity and speed and how they factor into car crashes. My son and my husband researched and compared tires and how they type of tires you have on your car effects how you drive. They also discussed gas-saving measures ( a pertinent topic for my boy who will soon be driving!!).
English (writing/reading): Throughout the study my son read many books, and I had him write a summary of each. He also wrote several types of essays: compare/contrast, narrative and argumentative (we even had a debate about what kinds of restrictions we each thought should be imposed on younger drivers!!)
Presentation: I think public speaking is important, so my son was charged with creating a presentation of some kind to summarize what he had learned and present to the family. He chose to make a power point, and use his graphs to give a lecture on cars, and it was good!!
Of course, you could take a topic like this and go in so many different directions. I think when you are creating a unit study, the more general the topic the easier it is to find activities to build into it. The thing I like about unit studies is that kids can use their different strengths throughout the study. If you have a creative child (like I do) you can ask them to design their own car (which he did!). If your child is the read and recite type, they can do that too. For us, unit studies make learning more interesting and fun. When I first started homeschooling, the thought of creating my own study seemed very daunting, but I have found it to be rather easy. As the parent, you know your child best, why not build their education around the things they love??
Have you created your own unit study? I’m always looking for new ideas!! Leave me a comment if you have any. To see more posts in our “How to” blog cruise, click here: