Friday, September 11, 2009

Dinosaur Diggin'

Unit Studies are a bit too structured for me. Looks like our "unit studies" might take a good three weeks to finish up since we are out and about a lot more than we are at home in order to "school". But this week we have managed to stick with a general theme of dinosaurs. We excavated dinosaurs (I used plastic toy dinos in a pan and froze them in water so that the Donut could excavate them while brother did his kit. Turned out that the frozen one was more popular than the kit!) We watched a dinosaur movie, did dinosaur game online, read some dinosaur related books, and made dinosaur salad. We also made dino tracks in our Playdoh, listened to a dinosaur related "Magic Treehouse" book, and printed out some dinosaur material for a lapbook that has yet to be started.

Next week I hope to get to the dinosaur workbook, coloring pages, egg hunt and hatching experience, dino bingo, writing a dinosaur poem, reading more books, watching another dinosaur movie, and using the dinosaur stamps that our friends let us borrow.
But we might not get to much of that since we have so many other things to do... like play dates with friends, homeschool book group at Barnes & Noble, baseball, music class in Franklin, a trip to the Discovery Center, and whatever else catches our interest!

EDIT: I wrote this a few weeks ago. I have found, thanks to this experience, that we are not Unit Study people. While we were learning about dinosaurs, we got bored with it occasionally, wanted to learn about other things during that time, could never develop an interest in the lap book, etc. So, thanks to this experience, this next "unit study" we are doing is on elephants... and it's so far consisted of one late night documentary (Donut said, "Isn't that what Steven on "Family Ties" does?" and, as you may recall, he did, in fact, make documentaries for public television), a couple of library books, and a printed curriculum which we might eventually look at.


  1. Sometimes we can overload our kids (and ourselves!) with info. If they are asking about a topic, sometimes watching one YouTube video or reading 2 library books is all they need to get the answers they are looking for. Sometimes if the interest is there, it would takes months to read through every good book on the planet about the subject. Sometimes subjects that I thought would take 2 weeks, took 2 days, and what would take 2 weeks, took 2 months! That's the beauty of unit studies (or interest-based learning) in the home vs. school--we can take as much or as little time as our kids need.

    Lapbooks are certainly not for everyone. Sitting down to "do" a lapbook can be overwhelming. If you really want to give one a go, but just haven't figured out how to work it in, my suggestion would be to offer some of the components you've found separately (this is how it works for us). For example, if you found a cool printable mini book about dinosaurs, sit down and talk about it together. Another day, offer something else like those printable dino dominoes, or whatever. If or when you get enough to fill a folder (& this could take months), then spread it all out and glue it have a lapbook.

  2. Nodding my head.....I realized that we are not unit study people either ;)

  3. LOL. Thanks for sharing this even though you don't think you'll keep up with "unit studies." I think my Littlest could do nothing but dinosaur stuff most days -- but totally on his terms, of course. He's watching dinosaur videos on YouTube right now -- there are a TON! I have some lapbooking materials, but I haven't gotten them out for him. Pretty much any book he lets me read to him right now has to be dinosaur-themed, so it's a good thing we have a bunch!

    But I think all three boys would love the dinos on ice excavating project! That's just fun! What did they use to break the ice?

  4. It is so great that you figured this out!

  5. Sherry, I think you are exactly right. Clearly if we only "did" Wall-E occasionally then that would make He-Man miserable. I think I made myself nuts by saying that we were doing a unit study and therefore I felt pressured (by my label) to make sure and fill up enough time with things worthy of being considered part of the unit study. So, again, it's all about figuring out what works for your family and I think that taking it day by day is our best bet by far!

    Really, you could freeze any little plastic toys! We used a butter knife, a hammer and eventually hot water to help us dig out the dinosaurs.


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