Igniting Wonder with Unit Studies

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unit studies


Nothing adds wonder to homeschooling quite like a unit study. Well, and some yummy goodies, of course. Unit studies can serve as a terrific remedy for an exciting curriculum that’s suddenly turned tired. Here’s a few ways they can ignite wonder in your homeschool.


Enjoy Freedom with Unit Studies

If you’re not familiar with unit studies, here’s a bit about them. Unit studies are a collection of readings or activities that usually focus on a theme. You can make unit studies any length of time that fits your needs. I often like to plan unit studies around special times of the year such as fall, Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day, or other national holidays.

Unit studies can supplement as an extension of something you’re already learning. They can also serve as a wonderful resource for a “break” in your normal school day. This year, we paused our history and science studies to enjoy a two-week unit study on Johnny Appleseed. We baked pies, tried several different apples, planted seeds, and read a variety of picture books.


Learn About Historical Figures

Whether you’re studying about American history or ancient history, unit studies help you take a break and learn at the same time. It’s good to take a break from your normal routine and deeply explore subject matter that interests your children. For example, if they’re learning about the Renaissance, pause your studies and explore figures such as William Shakespeare or Leonardo da Vinci.

Go outside and practice drawing some sketches from famous paintings or put on a Shakespeare play. Visit the library and check out stacks of books. Allow your children to ask questions and interact with their curiosity.


Explore Nature

Spending time in nature ignites wonder in many ways for children. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what area they’re learning about. If they’re out in nature, children will find a way to connect the subject matter with a visual in nature.

Last year, we did a short study on butterflies. It was the start of spring and seemed like a great time. We’d seen butterflies in nature and in books, but we’d never really interacted with them. So, we ordered them in the larva stage and watched them grow. Reading The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle has never been the same since.


Dive Deeply into Literary Characters

Do you have a designated literature time in your homeschool? Literature unit studies work well at this time or even as a great addition to your morning time. You can study a specific author or even a time period that you’re reading. This works for any age level. Whether you simply read novels or use a literature curriculum, engaging in a unit study will give a fresh perspective on the book and the author.

  • Read short biographies on the author’s life
  • Talk about some simple literary elements
  • Make real-life connections with the characters
  • Consider cooking or baking some food from the book
  • Watch the movie

I’ve found (through a series of experiments) that taking a pause with a unit study stirs wonder and a love for what we’re learning. Keep unit studies unrushed and enjoyable. You’ll find that your students will make many connections with the material on their own.


Danielle is a former classroom teacher turned “work-from-home” and homeschooling mother of two. She now spends her days teaching her children, reading numerous books, and sharing her gifts with others. She blogs about her adventures at


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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).