November 20, 2010

Making a Preschool Unit of Study

For most of our preschooler's day, he engages in everyday kids' activities of play and exploration without structure.  We are fine with this.  We feel the home is the best learning environment and a typical family day is the best schedule.  At this age, we want his learning to be natural, fun, and just part of life.  He has learned numbers, counting, letters, and sounds in this informal way.  However, he asks to do 'lessons' like his three older siblings.  He has his own miniature table and chair in our homeschool room, and likes to be taught there from time to time. At other times, he wants to do his lessons snuggled up on the sofa.  It is important to note that if he shows no interest in a particular project or book, then I set it aside.  He has plenty of years to learn. 

As our preschooler has just recently turned four, we have opted to create relaxed preschool units rather than purchasing a structured program.  He has completed a unit on farms and a tree and forest unit.  These have been super easy to put together and implement into our days.  As I have been sharing about them, I thought it might be beneficial to share how I put a preschool unit together.  This is just one method of combining resources, and I'm sure there are many others. 

To begin, I chose a topic.  Usually the topic is relevant to our current season, activities, or preschooler's interests.  I start to think about activities, field trips, and books that relate to this topic.

Next, I search the house for resources that we already own.  These resources are gathered in one location.  I, personally, need to see them all at once.  Other people may be fine with a written list.

The next step is a trip to the library.  We use our library regularly and are generally able to find resources easily.  When our own searches fail, as they sometimes do, our library has a wonderful computerized search program, and even better librarians who willingly help in our searches.

After the trip to the library, I search the computer for free coloring pages or simple lessons to supplement his daily activities.  Usually the resources and books from our home and library offer key words and subjects to use as searches on the computer.

After this research, if need be, I will add art projects that I devise based on the topics we will cover in the unit and the materials we have available.  This happens to be an interest of mine and I enjoy doing this.  However, this step is not really necessary.  There are plenty of arts & crafts idea books that could be utilized to find a project idea if you want to add a project to your unit study.

After combining all our personal resources, project ideas, the library's resources, and computer search finds, I reorganize the materials into 'subjects.'  Our subjects are usually Bible, Math, Literature, History, Science, Cultural Studies, Art, Poetry, and Music.  Sometimes, a unit or our resources do not cover every subject.  We are OK with that as the next unit will most likely cover that subject. 

Then the 'schedule' is made.  If there is a field trip to be scheduled, then I am sure to schedule this for a time before, during, or right after the unit.  Our books and projects are really not scheduled, but are just put in an order of what I would like to do first, second, etc.  When we are done with the resources they are returned.  His completed projects are always displayed for everyone to see.  His worksheets are kept near his little table in our school room.  He has a nice little pile of past work that he looks through and plays with from time to time.  It serves as an excellent review.

I hope this information encourages you to make your own unit study for your preschooler.  You probably already have most of what you need available to you, and by combining these resources in different ways, you can create free customized preschool units of study that you will both enjoy.

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