Free Mini Unit Studies
We post free mini unit studies to give you the ideas and resources to use the Charlotte Mason method at home in your homeschooling. We offer a topic for study and break it down for you into age ranges and provide you with suggestions for “living books” for reading and narration, copywork, and dictation. A number of reading materials and activities can be used with all of your children or combinations of age ranges within your family.
We supply you with links to notebooking pages on which to write the narration or copywork and activity ideas to add some unit study fun to do along side your Charlotte Mason homeschooling. If we know of lapbooking resources or worksheets that fit with the topic that we feel adds to the study, we supply those as well.
We hope you find topics and materials here that will enrich your homeschooling experience. Remember to check back often for new topics and materials, as we are always updating our materials.
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Celebrate Pi Day with these Activities
March 14 is coming quickly! Make your plans now to celebrate math with Pi Day using some of these neat resources, books, and ideas. We have links to tons of websites with activity suggestions for all grades. We also have a list of books that you can read and follow up with notebooking pages or lapbooks.
We have started out our day with headbands. On the front of the headband we attached a triangle resembling a slice of pizza pie or a circle resembling a whole pie. The kids colored in their favorite pizza or pie. Then wrote the word “Pi”, underneath that “3.14”, then “(the pi symbol).” We wore our headbands for the rest of the day, so that whenever we looked at one another, the “visual” learners had a reminder of Pi throughout the day.
We read a variety of stories involving the use of measuring a circle and all its measurements. At the same time, we happened to be studying ancient Egypt, so that we were reading a book about Archimedes at the time. Here is a list of books that relate to the study of Pi:
- Sir Cumference and Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander
- Sir Cumference and the Isle of Immeter (diameter of a circle) by Cindy Neuschwander
- Sir Cumference and the First Round Table (circles) by Cindy Neuschwander
- Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone (cone’s dimensions) by Cindy Neuschwander
- Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick (the chapters near the end of the book look at Archimedes’ mathematical studies)
- Piece of Pi: Wit-sharpening, Brain-bruising, Number-Crunching Activities with Pi by Naila Bokhari (activity book)
- The Joy of Pi by David Blatner (middle to high school range)
- A History of Pi by Petr Beckmann (high school) (reference to million years old earth on first page)
Part of our day we read books, writing a notebook page summarizing what we learned about Pi on the bottom half of a notebook page and on the top half, drawing diagrams and examples of using Pi in a formula. My younger son had a worksheet with a table to fill in as he measured the circumference, diameter, and radius of objects around the house. My older son had a similar table to complete, but had an extra column where he had to use Pi to calculate the different dimensions of various circular objects around the house. Some Pi activity worksheets can be found at http://search.enchantedlearning.com/cgi-bin/uncgi/search?key=pi and edhelper.com.
To obtain different notebooking pages to write your findings of Pi, go to http://www.notebookingpages.com/index.php?page=free-lined-paper-pages.
Other Pi activities can be found at the following websites:
If you want to have your kids do a Pi lapbook, join Live and Learn Press’s Yahoo group and receive a free wonderful lapbook at liveandlearnpress.com.
You can end your Pi Day celebration like we did, by making a pizza (or ordering one) and taking its measurements using the formula. Enjoy your day making memories no one will forget!
If you would like to be notified of newly posted study units, please subscribe to Katie’s Homeschool Cottage newsletter (link found in the top left corner of this page.) If you enjoyed these ideas, please share with friends! Thanks.
Abraham Lincoln Mini Unit Study
Read Abe Lincoln’s Hat by Martha Brenner – your child can read to you or you can read aloud.
Meet Abe Lincoln by Barbara Cary
As your child narrates to you the events of the story, you can write it for him/her on a notebooking page to place in a notebook. (See notebooking page links you can choose from below.)
You can have your younger child listen to some of the reading suggestions listed below for the older child and have them narrate to you events from these stories as well, while the older children write their own narrations.
Make a hat and have the child put notes in it and wear it just like Abe Lincoln. Make a donut shape out of black posterboard that fits over the child’s head, roll th top part of the hat and tape it and attach to the inside of the donut shape to stick up like Lincoln’s hat. Then cut a circle out to tape to cover the hole at the top of the hat.
Your child can also make a log cabin like the one Abe lived in when he was a boy. Cut out of a cereal box or light weight cardboard the sides and pointed roof of the cabin and tape together in the shape of a cabin. Cut out a door or any windows you wish to add, and glue craft sticks to the cardboard cabin to completely cover the cardboard. When the glue is dry, paint the craft sticks with brown paint.
If you would like some worksheets and more information to read with some unit study activities, click on the following link from School Express http://schoolexpress.com/ishop/software/lincoln_dg86.pdf
Intermediate and Junior High and High School Ages
Read any of the following living books:
Abraham Lincoln: Lawyer, Leader, Legendby Justine and Ron Fontes (younger readers)
Abraham Lincolnby Ingri and Edgar Parin d’ Aulaire
Abraham Lincoln by James Daugherty
Abraham Lincoln’s World by Genevieve Foster (this gives you a world view of Lincoln’s time)
Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln by Jean Fritz
Abraham Lincoln the Writer: a treasury of his greatest speeches and letters by Harold Haolzer (for older students, a great resource for primary documents for study, copywork, dictation, memorization, and analysis)
After reading any of these living books, have your students narrate the events from chapters as you read them together aloud as a family or individually and then have them write their narration on any of the notebooking page options listed below.
You can copy nicely worded or key sentences from the books for copywork for the children to write on any notebooking pages. After they have studied these sentences and copied them, you can dictate any sentences to them at the end of the week while they write them down.
When there are key events mentioned in the books from his life or from events occurring around the world, put these into a timeline. (an example of a timeline notebook page can be found here http://www.notebookingpages.com/index.php?page=Free-History-Notebooking-Pages )
Copywork can also include lines or the entire text from the Emancipation Proclamation or the Gettysburg Address. You can find these online or from the collected works mentioned in the book above.
A unit study for Abraham Lincoln for elementary age students can be found here in lapbook form http://www.homeschoolshare.com/abraham_lincoln_boy_who_loved_books.php
For more activity ideas, read Abraham Lincoln For Kids: his life and times with 21 activities by Janis Herbert
Have your older and high school students write an essay or prepare a persuasive speech for debate about Lincoln’s actions and reasons for instituting the Emancipation Proclamation. Did he do it for the slaves or save the union? Look at this link to analyze and prepare for this discussion and write your position. http://www.billofrightsinstitute.org/pdf/liberty_and_justice_for_all.pdf
Notebooking links to choose from
http://www.homeschoolshare.com/docs54367/AbrahamLincolnNtbkpgs.pdf (this one is written to work with the
d’ Aulaire book)
http://homeschool.consumerhelpweb.com/basics/notebooking-pages.htm (you can use the blank biography notebooking page or the 1/2 inch Abraham Lincoln page)
http://www.notebookingpages.com/index.php?page=Free-Biography-Notebooking-Pages (a variety of blank biography notebooking pages to choose from)
An Insect Mini Unit Study
To start off your unit with Insects, a couple of online books in Charlotte Mason style worth looking at and using for narration, copywork, and dictation would be The Insect Folk for little ones up to fourth grade and Insect Adventures for upper level grades.
Some useful readers for younger children would include Christian Liberty Press’ Nature Readers. These are great! If you want to read some fun and quality picture books, try Eric Carle books with all the different kinds of insects who live in them – like The Very Hungry Caterpillar. That’s a great book for looking at metamorphosis as well as beginning counting skills and days of the week for those preschoolers listening in.
A great book for the older kids that I found at my library and is a one of a kind is DK Google e.guides: Insect. This is a great general resource packed with information and online links just about insects.
Let C.P. Ant teach you about insects at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/insects/index.html. This is a fun site with a teacher’s guide.
A fun outdoor activity to try and soon would be planting free sunflower seeds in your garden to attract some bumble bees and then participate in a bee count here http://www.greatsunflower.org/. Sign up soon so you can be part of this activity.
Something we do every year which we never grow tired of is ordering caterpillars to watch while they grow into butterflies. We keep an observational journal and mark down any changes we see from day to day. We label our pictures with the appropriate terms during the metamorphosis. We have a ceremony to release them into our garden and take pictures as they fly off.
To have a fun snack during your unit, try ants on a log or create some of your own bugs out of twinkie snacks or moon pies!
A great set of lapbooks and other resources to tie into your reading and writing can be found here http://www.homeschoolshare.com/connections__insects.php.
Remember to get outside for that nature study, observe your surroundings, and draw what interests you. My younger son only showed signs of any interest in writing when we would go for our nature walks and he drew something that caught his attention. Afterward, he wanted to write the name of it underneath his picture. He would practice sounding out the word and write the letters in his journal. Until that moment, he resisted holding any kind of writing instrument!
Our Charlotte Mason Version of the Middle Ages
The foundation of our reading was based on the books The Story of the Middle Ages, Story of the World, and the Child’s History of the World. From these readings, we would orally narrate and then make notebooking pages. For our family read together time, we enjoyed reading aloud A Door in the Wall and Adam of the Road for two stories to get the feel of the time period from a child’s perspective and attain some background knowledge of what life was like. While reading A Door in the Wall, we came to the part where the author discussed the monastery and the monks illuminating their scripts, so we decided to be monks. Aside from copying and transcribing Bible passages, we decided to make an alphabet book about the middle ages. We wrote down 3 or more words associated with the time (people’s names, events, things, places) next to a list of the alphabet starting with each letter. We then made a fancy looking letter at the top corner of 26 pages, one for each letter of the alphabet. Looking at some examples of illuminated pages in some fairy tale type books at home and the Book of Kells on the internet, we started putting decorative borders around the edges and coloring the large letter and the borders with rich colors, including gold, silver, red, green, glittery gel pens.
The pages were now ready to be written on a topic starting with that letter. A couple of times per week the boys would sit down with stacks of books on various topics about the middle ages we would get from the library and read. They would discuss with me what they learned and then write a summary about it for their alphabet book on the correct alphabetical page and then draw a picture in a picture box for their book. When they were all done, we took an extra large piece of paper to fold it over in half and with one of us holding the book pages tight against the fold, the other took a tapestry needle with off white tapestry thread and sewed the book binding, just like the monks. Afterward they practiced calligraphy (as close as they could get) to write the title of their books.
My older son is still finishing listening to Ivanhoe and reading A Connecticutt Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, laughing outloud while he reads and telling his younger brother what just happened.
For copywork, my younger son wrote down passages from A Door in the Wall, and my older son (a big Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fan) decided he would choose elaborate passages from those books. The boys also studied the history of chess and read about each piece, its history, and strategies to use when using that piece. This was a wonderful book called Illustrated Chess for Children with lots of interesting information for the names of the chess pieces, their moves, and strategy of the game. Alot of pictures helped the boys follow along with the discussion. They would read and play a chapter at a time.
We also enjoyed Howard Pyle’s King Arthur and Merry Tales of Robin Hood. We read Beowulf and The Song of Roland. We haven’t gotten to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight yet, but we will. We enjoyed a children’s version of The Canterbury Tales and read Chanticleer and the Fox, after reading Saint George and the Dragon. That book has some wonderful illuminations in it.
We looked at David Macaulay’s books, Cathedral and Mosque, among other titles to get a feel for art and architecture and the spread of different cultures and beliefs of the time. Each of my boys chose a person to read books about and write a research paper on – one chose Kublai Khan, the other chose King Richard the Lion-Hearted. They also read aloud a biography on Marco Polo and we mapped the Silk Road.
We would periodically stop and put time line figures on a very long roll of butcher paper, one for each boy, that we made into timelines we have been working on for several years. We add to it every year. The top half of the line is for the history of the Western Hemisphere. The bottom half of the timeline is for the Eastern Hemisphere. This way we can see what is happening concurrently on different sides of the world in a chronological manner.
We enjoyed watching a video by Sister Wendy on the art of the period and listened to various kinds of medieval music and chants.
We also listened on CD to several G A Henty stories for this period which have always been a hit with us. We were fortunate enough to see the extensive collection of armor, including samurai warriors, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That is going to have to be a repeat visit some day.
We did an extensive study of knights, chivalry, their crests and their meanings. This led us to what crests do our family surnames have. We did a search and conducted family interviews to learn more about our family’s history. We found the correct crests for each half of the family, found out the meanings behind the names and symbols on the crests, and we put this information and the pictures on notebooking pages. The boys, of course, wanted to invent their own crests and meanings after that and then wrote out a descriptive paragraph of their respective kingdoms that led to the creation of their crests.
Being boys, they enjoyed a study of the weaponry and their uses of the time and the role of the castle.
After a study of the crusades and why they happened, we wound down our study and got ready for our feast. The boys read books on the feasts, so they would have the proper mannerisms, food, and entertainment for the occasion. They prepared a play (which wasn’t a miracle or mystery play like they would have had at the time about a Bible story) but one based on Beowulf which they had enjoyed reading so much. We prepared bannock bread, mentioned in A Door in the Wall, beef stew, and blueberry pie, served with a fruit and cheese platter with grape juice in goblets. The stew was served on bread trenchers as was the custom at the time with each setting having a finger bowl and a cloth napkin. My husband was a bit surprised when he sat down and found out he had a wooden spoon and a dull knife with which to eat and was told not to talk about any electronic devices or he would be regarded with suspicion as being a sorcerer. Everyone had to speak with thine, thy, and thou. As my sons, in a king and a knight costume, sat by candlelight at the table, they discussed who was really in charge, the Britons or the Franks.
After dessert was served, my husband narrated a lively rendition of Beowulf as the boys acted it out, changing costumes several times. Thus, the middle ages has ended and we are entering the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration with great expectation of what we will read, learn, and who we will become this time. I know we will be recreating some of Leonardo DaVinci’s inventions and lying on our backs under the kitchen table painting the next Cystine chapel for starters.
Our Medieval Feast