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Copyright 2002
The Teaching Home
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"Treasuring God in our Traditions and Other Specials" is the
subject line of the e-mail accompanying and sponsoring this newsletter.

     You are welcome to forward this newsletter in its entirety.

     The Teaching Home E-Mail Newsletter #56
     Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement

      November 19, 2003  /  Cindy Short and Sue Welch, editors

Table of Contents
Unit Studies: Your Versatile Teaching Tool
6 Steps To Planning Your Own Unit Study (Continued)
     Step 3.  Gather Your Resources
     Step 4.  Cover Your Subjects with Various Activities
     A Checklist To Use for Any Unit Study
     Step 5.  Organize Your Plan and Conduct Your Unit Study
     Step 6.  Finish Strong
Recommended Resources
     Marvelous Math for Windows
     Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting Series
     Family Time Movies
Sunny Side Up: Humorous Anecdote


     In our last issue we discussed the valuable and versatile
teaching tool -- unit studies -- and the first two steps for
planning your own unit study.  You can see that issue at
     In this issue we complete this series on unit studies.
Especially valuable is the extensive list of activities that can
be used for any unit you plan.
     We hope that you will enjoy planning and conducting a unit
study with your family in the near future.

Pat, Sue, Heather, Holly, and Brian Welch
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Unit Studies:
Your Versatile Teaching Tool, Part 2
     Before beginning step 3, you will need to clarify what you
hope to accomplish during your study.

Goals and Objectives
__ Consult your scope and sequence or list of educational goals
for your children, and select topics from each subject area that
relate to your unifying theme and fulfill some of your listed
__ List your objectives for this unit study -- everything you
want your children to be able to do (experiences and skills) or
know (knowledge and concepts) by the end of the unit study.

Step 3.
Gather Your Resources
     First research your possibilities, next decide which meet
your needs and fit together best, and then gather your resources.

What To Look for
* Materials on several different levels of depth and/or
* Encyclopedia, dictionary, and other standard reference books.
* Unit study guides.
* Christian textbooks or worktexts, junior high or high school level.
* Resource books such as Eyewitness, Usborne, Dover, or Reader's
   Digest's illustrated nonfiction books.
* Reading and literature books. (See "Reading and Literature"
   under "Step 4" below.)
* Audio tapes of recorded lectures, books, and music.
* Video tapes of classes, experiments, documentaries, or movies.
* Art books and supplies.
* Science books with projects and experiments.
* Activity or coloring books and educational games.
* Educational software.
* Information about field trips, local events, community
   resources, and museums.

Save Money
* Check for discounts, free days, or group rates for field trips.
* Shop thrift stores for games, activities, costume pieces, and
   craft supplies.
* Look for used books at thrift stores, used book stores, or online.
* Ask if the book store or educational supplies store gives a
   teacher's discount for home teachers.

Where To Look
     You might want to get a good Christian resource for the
foundation of your study and fill in with activities and related
resources from the following.
* Libraries: public, church, college, Bible school, or support group.
   * Use interlibrary loan, catalog search, and library staff.
* The internet.  Do a topical search using key words from your
   topic for information, games, interactive sites, printable
   worksheets or coloring pages, and virtual field trips.
* Retail or used book or learning stores, mail order, or online.
* Government agencies.

Your Home Library
* Build your home library with some of the materials listed above.
* It is very helpful to have access to an encyclopedia and
   reference books at home in print, software, or online.
* Set aside a large box and/or shelves to assemble all the
   resources for your current unit study.

A Set of Teaching Home Back Issues
Makes a Most Appreciated Gift!

   Order online before Dec. 5
   and we will gift wrap and
   include a card at no extra cost
   if you indicate this is a gift.

     The practical how-to articles, teaching tips, encouragement,
and inspiration never go out of date in these back issues.
     Buy Teaching Home Back Issues online at

Step 4.
Cover Your Subjects with Various Activities

     Use this activity checklist for any unit study, selecting
those activities that are most appropriate for your topic, your
family, and your goals (spiritual, character, and educational).
     The following list of learning activities are grouped
according to their primary subject areas.  However, any given
activity could cover two or more different subjects (e.g.,
history and writing, literature and language, or science and
     Include as many or as few subject areas as you need or wish,
choosing areas of each subject that coordinate smoothly with your
main unit study topic.
     Remember to check your scope and sequence chart or list of
educational goals for important concepts related to your study.

Research and Study Skills
__ Teach your children how to research, evaluate, and gather
     materials and information from a variety of sources during
     the planning stage of your unit study.
__ Teach your children to take notes for reports or review.
__ Have each student and teacher keep a notebook on your topic,
     adding information, completed assignments, notes, pictures,
     resource lists, etc., as you go.

Bible / Christian World View
__ Use a Bible concordance, topical handbook, or online Bible
     search to look up words and find passages related to concepts
     or character traits included in your study.
     * Write out, discuss, and memorize selected Scripture passages.
__ Evaluate whatever you study from a biblical view-point:
     * Truth (consistent with God's Word)
     * Morality (upholding Godly standards of behavior)
     * Accuracy (correct factually)
     * Realism (portraying life as it really is)
     * Validity (arguing logically without fallacies)
     * Value (important, helpful, relevant, edifying)
     * Excellence (skillful, thoughtful, thorough)
     * Beauty (the choice and arrangement of words, images, and
        ideas are attractive, touching, moving, appealing to the senses,
        emotions, and mind)
__ Include character training by pointing out good and bad
     examples and how to follow or avoid them.
__ Show how a Christian should apply and use in a practical way
     the knowledge and information you are studying.
__ When not using materials from Christian publishers be careful
     to identify atheistic slants.
__ You can use a topical Bible study or a Scripture passage as
     your main topic.

Reading and Literature
     See newsletter #25 for more ideas and resources (such as
Christian literature study guides) for doing literature-based
unit studies.
__ Assign topic-related reading for each child at his reading
     level.  Include:
     * Historically correct fiction and good literature.
     * Poetry.
     * Nonfiction (essays, biographies, histories, diaries, etc.).
__ Choose good books to read aloud together as a family.
__ Set aside a daily time to read aloud together, either taking
     turns or listening to mom or dad read.
__ Discuss what you have read.
     * Ask comprehension questions about facts, inferences, and
     * Teach related concepts and life values that you want to
     pass on to your children.
__ Use a Christian textbook or literature guide to define and
     discuss the literary elements of your book such as allusions,
     characters, dialogue, imagery, plot, poetic form, point of view,
     setting, theme, and tone.
__ Choose at least one piece of good literature to go with your
     unit study.
__ Describe the main characters and your opinion of them.
     * Show when and how a character's attitude or behavior
__ Describe the setting: time and place.
__ Write a short summary of the story.
__ Discuss the conflicts and solutions of the story.
__ Describe a beautiful, humorous, exciting, happy, or sad part.
__ Did the author write to share an experience, information, or
     an opinion?
__ Research and give a brief biography of the author.
     * List his other books.

__ Write a poem on your topic.
__ Add an original stanza to a poem you are studying.
__ Recite or read a poem with appropriate expression.
__ Set a poem to music.

Language Arts
     Although grammar concepts and rules need to be taught
systematically, you can use your unit study topic for practice of
these skills.
__ Assign reading, comprehension, spelling, grammar, and
     penmanship exercises, using passages from books on your unit
     study topic for copywork, dictation, identification of parts of
     speech, sentence diagramming, spelling, vocabulary, etc.
__ Various kinds of book reports can be used to develop and
     practice specific language arts skills.

__ Do a parent-supervised internet search on your topic and write
     a report with links to e-mail to your friends.
__ Write a letter to a friend or relative about something you
     have learned; stamp or decorate stationary to match your theme.
__ Write a newspaper article about events you study.
__ Write questions and answers on your topic; try a riddle too.
__ Write a diary entry as a person you are studying about or who
     lived in that time period.
__ Make a simple illustrated book for children or a longer one
     for young adults telling about some facet of your topic.
__ Write essays, poems, stories, reports, plays, book or movie
     reviews, etc. related to your topic.

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Step 4.  (Continued)
Cover Your Subjects with Various Activities

Speech and Drama
__ Give an oral report using flannel board figures, puppets,
     pictures, charts, or other visual aids.
     * Dress up as a character while giving your report.
__ Write and act out a pantomime, play, movie, or radio broadcast
     on your topic.
     * Create costumes and sets for your play.
__ Make a video of your report or dramatization of a scene.
__ Read aloud an exciting, interesting, or amusing passage from a
     book about your topic.
     * Tape record your reading, complete with sound effects.
__ Watch a video, movie, or live play on your topic and critique
     it as to historical accuracy, biblical truth, and literary merit.
__ Give an illustrated travel lecture or design a travel brochure
     on settings and points of interest in your area of study.

Vocabulary and Spelling
__ Start with a short list of key words that define or outline
     your topic, and add new or significant words as you encounter
__ Verbally test your students by asking them to spell and define
     the words and use them in a sentence.

__ Have children copy or write as you dictate passages from books
     on your topic.  Assign a couple of sentences for younger
     children; a couple of paragraphs for older ones.
__ You can also use these passages for typing practice.

__ Use pencil, charcoal, colored pencils, pastels, paints, or
     chalk to draw or paint a picture related to your study.
__ Draw a humorous or political cartoon.
__ Draw, label, and decorate a map.
__ Make and illustrate a timeline of events.
__ Create original illustrations for a story.
__ Paint a portrait gallery of people studied.
__ Design a poster or a bookmark summarizing key concepts.
__ Make a mobile or construct a diorama.
__ Make soap, playdough, clay, or balsa-wood models or
__ Make a collage, mural, or seed mosaic.
__ Use chalk, dry erase, overheads, or a Powerpoint presentation
     (computer graphics program) to make a report or to teach
     someone else what you have learned.
__ Make and dress a doll, or a paper doll, with costumes of a
     character or period, or buy a paper doll set.
__ Display a collection of items relevant to your topic.
__ Make a scrapbook of your unit study activities, including
     photos and descriptions.
__ Copy and decorate beautiful passages of literature or related
     Scripture passages for framing.

History and Geography
__ Use a Christian history textbook or other resources on the
     time period(s) and place(s), noting:
     * Influential people and events.
     * Political highlights.
__ Read historically correct fiction.
     * Characters should also act and think as people did then,
     not as they do now.
__ Research the art, music, and literature of the period.
__ Study the religion and philosophies of the period and their
     influence then and now.
__ Locate your topic in time and space on a timeline, globe,
     and/or wall map.
     * Use a master timeline on which to record events as you
     study them for an overall view of the flow of history.

__ Study famous scientists, discoveries, and inventions of the
     era you are studying.
__ Teach how things work in both technology and nature.
__ Do experiments, read about them, and/or watch them on video.
__ Be sure to include creation science, or use it for one of your
     main topics.
__ Make specimen collections of rocks, leaves, insects, etc.
__ Record observations of plant or animal life, etc.
     * Add your own sketches.
__ Make a chart showing the branches of science with subdivisions
     to give an overall view of scientific knowledge.
     * Include studies from one or more branches of science.

Arts and Philosophy
__ Teach art and music history and appreciation along with the
     time period, geographic area, or other topic you are studying.
__ Include biographies of famous composers and artists and
     selected examples of their music and art.
__ Use Francis Schaeffer's "How Shall We Then Live" book or video
     series for the relationship of each age's philosophy to its art
     and music.

Cultural Elements
__ Explore or make food of the period or place.  (Be careful to
     follow sound guidelines for food safety.)
__ Look for cultural cookbooks for children, cookbooks that go
     with your storybook or that contains recipes for the foods that
     would have been eaten by its characters.
__ Research to find what clothing would have been worn by the
     people you are studying and dress the way they would have.

__ Play educational table games, online or software computer
     games, or make your own games.
__ To use any game as an educational game: a child must first
     answer a question related to your topic before taking his turn.
__ Use vocabulary words in hangman games, word searches, and
     crossword puzzles that you make yourself.

Field Trips
__ Your family can go alone or with others.
__ Field trip ideas can be found in the yellow pages of your
     phone book and the events pages of your local paper.  They
     include museums, community events, historic sites, commercial
     sites (e.g., dairy or factory), or natural sites.
__ Short, informal trips can include:
     * The foreign foods section at your grocery store.
     * An antique shop (take grandma to tell you what you're
        looking at).
     * Normal errands to the post office or library.
     * Spontaneous, informal field trips that appear to you along
     your way.
__ Family trips and vacations can provide extended educational
     field trips.

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Step 5.
Organize Your Plan and Conduct Your Unit Study

__ Make an outline of your topic, as detailed or generalized as
     you desire, based on and including resources and activities you
     have chosen to include.
__ Divide your outline into weeks and days.
__ Make flexible guidelines for each day's lesson plans.
     * Adjust as you go by reassigning, adding, or dropping
        activities as needed or desired.

__ Build interest in your upcoming unit by talking about it
enthusiastically, asking questions, assembling resources, etc.
__ A dramatic introduction (video, special activity, or trip) can
set the tone and stimulate interest in learning.

Group and Individual Study
     A study group can include just your own family, one or two
other families, or a group of home-school students.
__ Use both family and individual activities for variety and
     effective learning.
__ Include a regular daily or weekly time for family members to
     share, discuss, and review what everyone is learning.
__ Add the "whys" to the basic "who, what, where, and when"
     questions.  These include causes and effects, motivations, and
     "What do you think would have happened if . . ." questions.
__ Oral reports, speech, drama, science, or art projects can be
     done together.
__ Have a group discussion or a quiz on your topic.
__ Play the Ungame (check thrift stores) and answer as a person
     in your book or study.
__ Set up learning stations -- areas or boxes containing
     materials needed for different activities that your children can
     take turns doing such as computer work, picture books, art work,
     and games.

Use All Learning Styles
     Incorporate three important teaching/learning modalities:
__ Hands-on activities for kinesthetic learning.
__ Reading and observation activities for visual learning.
__ Listening and verbal activities for auditory learning.

__ Be flexible with your schedule.  If you're really into a
     project, don't cut it short just to keep on the schedule.
__ Respond to questions and interests in related areas.

Step 6.
Finish Strong

     You might need to keep a record or a portfolio of your
studies to comply with your state's laws or an umbrella
organization as well as for your own benefit.  Choose from the
following alternatives.
__ Record the dates and students' names after you finish each
     concept on your scope and sequence chart or list of educational
__ Use your lesson plans, checking off and dating each objective
     as it is done.
__ Keep track of hours spent by subject if you are required to do
     so by your state law or wish to for your own information.
__ Copy your records for each child's file.
__ Keep a journal for each day of your unit study briefly listing
     books read or activities done.
__ List all books read by the family or individual students
     including the title, author, and publisher.
__ Place artwork and writing assignments in a notebook or file.
__ Take photos of art, craft, and science projects and activities
     such as plays, costumes, and field trips.
__ At the end of the unit study, place your records in a labeled box.

     If you assign grades for your children's work you might:
__ Give an oral examination by asking your child to tell you what
     he learned or by asking questions about main points of the study.
__ Assign a grade based on the degree of mastery for each of your
     major objectives.
__ Reward your children by giving extra credit for exceptional
     work, good attitudes, or progress in character development.

End with a Bang
__ End your unit study with the presentation of reports or an
     exhibit of projects that wraps up your study and shows what
     your children have learned.
__ Go on a field trip or outing.
__ Celebrate with a dinner or party that reflects your unit's theme.
__ Have a Book Report Party. Each child gives a 5-minute report
     dressed and acting as a character in his book.
     * Refreshments can include some suggested by the books.
__ Set up a table to display projects.
__ Invite family or friends to any of the above.

     Please Thank & Support Our Sponsoring Advertisers!
          These free newsletters are made possible financially
     by the fine suppliers who advertise in them.
          Please remember those that have advertised in our
     last issue (below) as well as the ones in this issue.

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Sunny Side Up:  Our Son, the Guinea Pig
     I recently had to take our son to the doctor. He had learned
to read since his last visit, and as we pulled into the parking
lot of the clinic, he began to sound out the words on the
     "Ea-st Side Fam-i-ly Prac-tice." At the last word, his eyes
grew large and he exclaimed, "Practice? You mean they're just
practicing in there?!"
     Contributed by Margaret B., Portland, Oregon
     You are also invited to submit your humorous anecdote.

God Loves You.
     Because we were separated from God by sin, Jesus Christ died
in our place, then rose to life again.  If we trust Jesus Christ
as our Savior and Lord, He will give us eternal life.
     "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of
works, that no one should boast" (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

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