Unit Studies Made Easy CD, PDF Edition
This CD-ROM contains printable PDF files of four of Valerie Bendt's previously published books (which are no longer available separately) and one new section. The first of the books is How to Create Your Own Unit Study. This how-to, easy-to-use guide helps you plan your own unit studies, customized to meet your family's needs. The unit studies are primarily based on literature rather than activities, so these can easily be incorporated even by families who don't have much extra time. The second book, The Unit Study Idea Book, is the companion to the above book. It is divided into sections (literature, science, history, fine arts, and general knowledge) which contain actual unit study plans for specific topics (science, for example, contains plans for studies on aviation, astronomy, ants, birds, the human body, and electricity). After using these plans as well as reading through the information in this book you should be well-equipped to plan unit studies on other topics of your choosing. The third book included in this volume, Success with Unit Studies, is a sequel to the first volume, and it picks up right where that book leaves off. Chapters in this book include research, reading, writing, recording, and reporting, all of which are vital to a good study. Methods and suggestions are given, along with specific examples. The fourth book is called For the Love of Reading, and the new section included this book is entitled Homeschooling or Schooling from Home? This CD-ROM contains a lot of information in a single place for your convenience.
What is a "unit study"? Briefly, it's a thematic or topical approach to teaching as opposed to the traditional by-subject approach. Rather than teach each subject separately, a unit study attempts to integrate many or all subject areas into a unified study - usually centered around a particular subject or event. Obviously History (the study of events) and Science (the study of "things") are well-suited to unit studies, and usually form the "core" around which other subjects are integrated. Subjects like Bible, Geography, Government, English (writing), and Reading/Literature, Music, Home Economics, Life Skills, and Art, are usually easy to integrate around a core topics. Remaining subjects (Math, Phonics, Grammar, Spelling) can be integrated to some extent via related activities. Each, however, has its own "system" (progression of skills, mastery of "rules") which must be followed to some degree. Since one of the additional advantages of a unit study curriculum is the ability to use it with students of varying ages and skill levels, these subjects are generally taught apart from the core curriculum. This may be as simple as assigning pages in a grammar or spelling book, or using a separate "program" for Phonics and Math. Unit studies also tend to be more activity-oriented than the traditional approach, a real boon to kinesthetic learners. Advocates of the unit study approach site studies showing that children learn best when learning is unified rather than fragmented and when learning is more participatory than passive.