Unit Studies Eclectic Style


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During the early years of our homeschool existence, we used unit studies exclusively. These days, our very eclectic selves pull from a variety of resources, but I am still very unit-study-minded. I love when something can me taught in a very cross-curricular kind of way, whether I plan it that way or it just happens. This week, it’s just happened, and it’s been fun!

We’re just getting into the Renaissance (which I am going to learn to spell without spell check before the year is over!) in history and we’re studying astronomy in science. We’ve found ourselves learning about the life of Prince Henry the Navigator, which is really cool because do you know what the early explorers used as their primarily navigational tool?

That’s right! The stars.

So, we’ve had great fun studying the constellations and studying the phases of the moon, while reading about how Prince Henry loved to pick the brains of astronomers, navigators, sailors and so forth. In light of our studies, I chose to skip our regularly scheduled art lesson on Wednesday and, instead, do some theme-related painting. The kids could either choose to paint a few of the constellations — adding some glow-in-the-dark acrylic for a fun effect — or try their hand at The Starry Night, by Van Gogh.

They all chose to paint constellations, with Megan and Josh painting the lines to show them while Brianna painted only the stars themselves. I tried my hand at A Starry Night.

constellations
starry night 1
starry night 2

We really had a great time tying our history and science together (which I think may happen a lot during this particular time period). Some resources you may enjoy, if you choose to look at some of these themes, are:

Prince Henry the Navigator by Leonard Everett Fisher

The Glow-in-the-Dark Night Sky Book by Clint Hatchett

Constellations by Chris Sasaki

The Moon Seems to Change by Franklyn Mansfield Branley

The Moon by Robert Louis Stevenson

Have you had any studies lately that have fallen together in a fun, unit study kind of way?

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16 Comments

  1. I think I say this every time I read about someone doing Unit Studies. I SO wish I could do that! It's just not how I'm wired though. ๐Ÿ™

    As for spelling Renaissance, I always pronounce things funny to help me remember things. Maybe think of the words as spelling this sentence: Rena is sance. I know it doesn't mean anything, but might help you remember how to spell it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I hope y'all were able to observe the meteor shower tonight as part of your study. We did and my kids are so excited to be learning about astronomy now! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Thanks so much for that book list. We're doing astronomy this year, kind of as a year round theme, and I think that Henry the Navigator will be a great starting point.

    And I LOVE the idea of copying Van Gogh. I can't wait to do that!

    Annie Kate

  4. Hey, Joy, that really might help me remember how to spell it! My step-mom's name is Rena and that's how she spells her name, so that *should* make it easy to remember.

    Samantha, thanks for mentioning the meteor shower. I didn't know anything about it, but that would definitely get the kids excited. I'll have to see what I can find out about it.

  5. Annie Kate, I hope you all have fun. I had a great time attempting to copy Van Gogh…and the kids just loved the glow-in-the-dark paint. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Actually, we use the Charlotte Mason method. Although this isn't "unit studies" per se, we do meld together cross curriculum. If we are, for instance, studying world history and the century is 1900's. We also study art, composers, music, artists, etc from that time period as well.

  7. I LOVE your blog title! So funny! I am thinking about homeschooling my son when he gets to that point…I have a while since he is under a year still. Just stoppin by from SITS and thought I'd say hi!!!

  8. I was hoping your kids would try Starry Night, so I was really glad to see your rendition. Great job!

  9. Great post! I have to admit that I've never done a unit study…at least not an independent one. Can you believe that? I guess we technically do some with Sonlight but I've never organized one (blush).

  10. Since your kids did some art this week, I was wondering what you think of the "mess-free" materials that seem to be popular now. For my daughters 2nd birthday she got a "mess-free" painting set. I have mixed feelings about it, although I understand the need to control the mess sometimes. Have your kids used them and what do you/they think? thank you, Addie

  11. @ Addie – I've never used any of the mess-free products. If I understand correctly, you have to use special paper for the products to work correctly. Special paper = added expense, so we've just skipped them. My kids are 14, 9, and 7, so by the time the mess-free stuff came out, we were pretty much past having to worry about it.

  12. Love your unit study. Liked the art work, especially your Van Gogh. Glad to know I'm not the only one who paints along with the kids! I must be weird and unsocialized, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. i also love tying science, art, music, etc into our history studies– or i should say, i love the *idea* of doing that :-). i don't actually plan it nearly as often as i would like to, nor do i actually practice it nearly as often as i plan to! but i love it when it does all come together like that.

    last year we were studying the late-19th/early-20th centuries and i managed to get in a little bit of science history (pasteur, etc) and quite a bit of art history (impressionists). of course, it takes a lot longer to get through a "unit" of history that way, but that's ok.

    if you want to tie in art history with your renaissance studies, here is a good (and simple!) book for doing art projects based on the work of artists:
    https://www.amazon.com/Discovering-Great-Artists-Hands-Children/dp/0935607099

  14. @ 40 Winkzzz Yeah, I've seen that one. It is good. We are actually going to be tying in art as much as possible this year, but we'll be using a book that I've drooled over the entire time we've homeschooled and finally bought this year: God and the History of Art, by Berry Stebbing. So far, we're just in the "art basics" part, but I hope to get more into the Renaissance part in the next couple of weeks.

  15. CM didn't like unit studies. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    I think her issue was when it goes overboard and mom/teacher tries to over analyze and force connections that aren't there for the sake of the theme. But what you've shared are natural connections. Things that flow. It works. And I think CM would like it.

    Anyway, I do! ๐Ÿ™‚

    And BTW, I love, love, love stars. And we never see them in China. Never. Not once. Ever. In seven years. ๐Ÿ™
    Cities and overcast skies. That's why. So, so sad.

  16. Do any of your local community/state colleges near you have a planetarium or an observatory? When we were back in NJ, there was a nearby planetarium which would seasonally change their kids programing (and only charge $2 per child.) Then there was a state college nearby that would open their observatory up to the public once a month for free.

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