UNIT STUDIES are an excellent way to implement
curriculum connections. Typically one theme or topic is selected and researched in depth for a period of time. While most
unit studies are planned for 5-6 weeks of study, a mini-unit can last only 1-2 weeks. A book series unit study such as the
Further Up and Further In, based on the Chronicles of Narnia series may last 28 weeks or the Prairie Primer, based on the Little House on the Prairie series may last 40 weeks.
year, as our catalyst, we used Jeff Cavin's The Great Adventure: A Journey Through the Bible timeline with chronological reading of the Old
Testament. The unit study developed as we read... we studied crafts of the Bible, music of the Hebrews, the languages of Greek
and Hebrew, astronomy, Ancient Egypt and Greece, the History of Math and Language, Greek literature, and even did a study
on war elephants. As we had questions about what we read, we researched the related topics. It's a wonderful way to learn.
The key to a unit study is to integrate several school subjects into a connected whole, pulling in related topics.
It is a very family-friendly way of educating children of multiple grade/age levels. Montessori educators do not typically
use the term, but the impressionistic presentations of the Great Lessons lead right into the "unit study" concept.
The purpose of the Cosmic Education approach of the Great Lessons is to engage the child in stories of life beginning
with the big picture of creation, and to inspire the child to eventually find his place and purpose in the universe. As the
children get older they are encouraged to do more independent research, i.e. unit studies. "When students are initiated
into the context of the universe before they study such traditional subjects as physics, chemistry and biology, they can then
see these studies as vital parts of the overall story of the cosmos. This is Cosmic Education." (from Children of
the Universe: Cosmic Education in the Elementary Classroom)
Catholic Unit Study Starters
The Catholic Church contains a wealth of Truth and wisdom. Unfortunately, there are not many resources
available for Catholic Unit Studies. I am working on a series of Catholic Unit Study Starters with a variety of
Catholic topic studies and resource suggestions for research. Our first unit study starter will be Heritage and Heraldry:
A Genealogy of the Catholic Church in America. With this approach, American History and Geography will be studied in
light of the timeline development of the Catholic archdioceses in the United States.