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How to Put Together a Unit Study

Did you gasp?  An unschooler talking about unit studies?  Sacrilege!  No, not really - unschooling has never been about avoiding learning.  It's about being a resource to my kids - whatever they are interested in, I become the docent at this museum we call life - showing them around.

If you imagine for a moment that you are really a docent in a museum, and you have all the resources in the entire world available to you - well, you could just wander the museum aimlessly from time to time.  But when your kids show a particular interest in one area, that's the time to gather the resources and make the most of the learning opportunity.

Sher Bear wants to know about Egypt.  The last three or four times we have been to the library, she has picked out (by the pictures on the covers) book about Egypt to bring home.  So based on her interest level, I have been putting together a unit study on the Ancients.

Thankfully, I have amassed a rather large library over the years.  I always keep my eyes open a yard sales, at the "dump" and at the library when they are casting off the old books for free.  I also never say no to a homeschool friend who would like to purge a bit.

So my big project this week has been to go through all my books, which are now overflowing the shelves, and pick out the resources we will use for this year.  I have also decided that I will be putting books that refer to other time periods away for the year.  That way, I will have more space, and the books will be much easier to get to.

I am also entering all my books into LibaryThing.  It's a free, online service you can use to catalog your books and then to sort them, and keep track of them.

Here's a widget showing my Ancients collection on LibraryThing:

Now, just because I have the books pulled and some projects planned does not mean that I will get all "teacher-y" and make the kids sit down and learn.  Rather, I am tempting them into the subject matter.  We have spent the last couple of days reading books, and for now they are all still very interested in continuing.  We also have some friends who are also studying the Ancients this year (they are using The Story of the World, which I used with Jor Man when he was four).  We will be getting together with them once a week to do crafts and other projects around the subject matter.  Next week we are going to their house where my friend will lead "Cave Painting".  The week after, I will lead "Mummifying a Chicken".

Washing the chicken
Now the chicken, having been dehydrated in spices for 6 weeks, is oiled.
Jor Man wraps the chicken in linen strips coated with glue

Here are some pictures of when Jor Man and I mummified a chicken.  Such fun!  I am also hoping that there will be enough money to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see their wonderful Antiquities collection that even includes an Egyptian Temple.

Hiding "golden" jewels in the wrappings

The finished "mummy"

Following this, Jor Man created a "sarcophagus" for the mummy, and it was buried in our yard.  Because we have since moved, we often joke about the construction project or idle digging in the future which will uncover our mummy and really have people wondering!

Wish you were here!


Mommaofmany said...

I have one child who is extremely intersted in Ancient Egypt. She snags any 'new' books I bring home on the subject. The latest, just found today, is "An Alphabet of Ancient Egypt" by Mary Chubb. She likes it very much. We did the chicken mummies a few years ago, too.

I'm sure you have found this, but it's fun!

Dakota said...

First you move from being a curriculum ______ (I'll let you provide the word at your discrestion) to a curriculum diva. Now you're "tempting them into the subject matter". I've had a feeling for a while that there was a certain "courting" or "enticing" of subject matter going on with homeschoolers (and unschoolers). But that is a post for another day.

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