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What is a unit study?

A unit study is defined as an in-depth examination of a topic (space, trees, cars, etc.) that approaches the topic from many academic disciplines—geography, science, history, art, etc. It is a complete immersion into the topic so that the student will see things as a "whole" instead of as disjointed bits and pieces learned throughout his education.

Unit studies encourage the use of imagination, creativity, and analytical thinking. In a typical textbook curriculum, the “facts” are simply memorized and regurgitated, only to be forgotten soon after the test. Unit studies teach children how to find the answers to their questions of how something works and why it is that way. They learn to seek the information that satisfies their need to know. They learn how to learn.

I plan unit studies so that while the child is learning the basic material, he is also reinforcing other academic skills. Reading skills are emphasized with the various books read. Writing skills are developed through writing assignments, copying and dictation, and journal writing. Thinking skills mature through hands-on activities and problem analysis.

Another advantage of unit studies is that they can be used by the whole family, teaching all of the children the same topic simultaneously while varying the assignments based on each child's capabilities. This saves the parent time and money, not having to buy, assign, teach, and check separate workbooks and text materials for each child.

While unit studies are a terrific and effective way to learn, they do not replace a systematic and progressive program for math, phonics, and grammar. It is my opinion that these disciplines have to be covered separately, using other curriculum, to give the child a solid foundation in these areas. They can be reinforced and applied through the unit study to increase the child’s proficiency.

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What is lapbooking?

Download N Go™ and Passport Geography™ Scout level studies incorporate lapbooking, in addition to the wealth of content you’ve come to expect from an Amanda Bennett unit study.

Why is lapbooking a great choice for learning?

Lapbooking brings a lively, creative project appeal to these series in a simple, ready-to-use format. Daily lapbooking templates are ready to just print and use. Have you ever created a lapbook with your child? These activities are made to be easy enough for a beginner, but "meaty” enough for children who have been lapbooking for a long time.

  • It’s an inexpensive, enjoyable, creative outlet.
  • Children learn by doing something with the information they are studying. Creating a lapbook allows a child to display what he has been learning, working especially well with unit studies. (And it’s practically clutter-free!)
  • It’s a great fit for kinesthetic learners (including those who may not grasp ideas through ordinary teaching methods), and children with other learning styles will enjoy a welcome break from their regular routine.
  • Lapbooking encourages interest and motivation levels by using bite-sized pieces of information at a time. Shorter units help kids stay focused and provide them the thrill of completing their project. (Time to show Grandma as they excitedly tell all about each of those parts in their colorful lapbook masterpieces!)
  • It’s a wonderful learning tool—great for review and a treasured document of each child’s learning.

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Why use unit studies?

According to Bloom’s Taxonomy, a study of learning objectives, there are six levels of learning:

  1. Knowledge – the ability to repeat something back, which was learned but not necessarily understood. Memorization of facts.
  2. Comprehension – understanding the meaning of facts or other information.
  3. Application – the act of putting something to use that has been learned and understood. Hands-on learning.
  4. Analysis – association of what has been learned, understood, and applied with other situations. Ability to see the basic parts or components of a whole item or topic.
  5. Synthesis – ability to put together various ideas to create, or synthesize, a new idea or process.
  6. Evaluation – ability to assess or judge an idea or process based on the lower five levels of learning.

Unit studies lead students through all six levels of learning by presenting the topic as a whole, rather than as bits and pieces of history, geography, or science scattered throughout different textbooks. All facets of a topic are covered, not just “important” names and dates. Students’ understanding of the subject can then be easily applied to other areas and topics, and they develop a much broader, more unified, and usable base of knowledge that they keep for a lifetime—and isn’t that what we want for them?

Unit studies are perfectly suited to families with several children, since all ages of students can be taught simultaneously. Older students will have more difficult assignments and will be expected to learn at higher levels. Younger students will pick up what they are ready to learn, and their assignments can be adjusted accordingly.

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Can I use unit studies with several ages of students?

Many of us have a broad age range to consider when teaching our children, and unit studies work well with all ages. The whole family can work on a unit study together, studying the same topic but varying the assignments based on each child’s abilities. While the youngest child might draw pictures of the story, the oldest child might be writing a brief summary of the book and its author.

When everyone in the home is pursuing a common topic, dinner conversation is never dull, and the ideas the kids come up with are priceless. I will never forget some of the daily stories the children shared with Dad at the dinner table . . . like the time they told him about their lesson in the phase change of metals—learned as they watched me melt a pot through an electric burner when I forgot I was boiling water for tea! Learning together as a family can provide a wonderful experience for everyone, and memories that last a lifetime.

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What grades are the studies designed for?

I currently write three series of unit studies: Unit Study Adventures, which are four-week studies designed for elementary through junior/senior high students; Download N Go™ studies, which are one-week units written for grades K–4; and the newest Passport Geography™ series, which are one-week, K–12 studies that take children on a virtual tour around the world.

The Unit Study Adventures are designed for all ages from early elementary through young adult. Each day has a basic, structured learning plan for elementary grades (Lower Level) and one for junior/senior high grades (Upper Level). Depending on the ages and needs of your children, you can choose to use all or just a few of the daily assignments. For example, a six-year-old student might be assigned only one or two spelling words and perhaps just one of the Read and Discover questions, while a ten-year-old student might do most of the Lower Level assignments for each day.

The same holds true for junior/senior high students. While most high school juniors or seniors should be able to complete all of the daily assignments in the Upper Level, a fourteen-year-old might not be ready to handle that much work in a day. Use these lessons as a tool, and customize them to fit your family and your children’s needs. What doesn’t get completed this year can be left for further study next year.

Download N Go™ studies are written specifically for the younger set (grades K–4), although they may also be used with younger and older children with just a bit of tweaking, and include daily lessons and lapbook components. These studies, like the Unit Study Adventures, are interactive and ready to use as soon as they are downloaded—no further preparation is required!

The Passport Geography™ studies are written for K–12 students, with varying levels of assignments for different ages.

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Are all UnitStudy.com studies in electronic form?

Yes, all studies purchased from UnitStudy.com are in electronic form (PDF files) and immediately downloadable. The Internet is used as a primary resource in all USAB studies, making their content incredibly rich and perpetually up-to-date. These studies will be just as current and relevant a year from now as they are today.

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What technology do I need to use these studies?

Internet access and use of Adobe Reader are required to fully utilize the study content on a computer (PC or Mac). You can also use USAB studies on mobile devices such as the iPad, Kindle Fire, and Nook with simple apps like GoodReader (for iOS devices) and ezPDF Reader (for Android devices). Give it a try today! Using USAB studies on your mobile device allows you to take your learning adventures wherever your busy life leads. If you're interested in even more info about using USAB studies with mobile devices, check out our Gizmos page.

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Do I need to print the entire study?

No, USAB unit studies are designed to be interactive with the Internet. They are most beneficial in E-book form right on your computer. We recommend you print out the lapbooking pages and other hands-on activities your child will be writing or drawing on. To save on printing, your student can use a notebook for journaling or answering questions.

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Can I purchase USAB studies on CD?

Yes. If you would like to purchase Amanda Bennett studies on CD, they are available at the following retailers:

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Do I have to prepare anything to use with these studies?

No! These unit studies have been written in simple, ready-to-use format, just for you! The research and preparation work have all been done; all you have to do is open the study and begin!

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What other books do I need for this study?

You will find that these guides use the Internet as a primary resource*. This has been done for many reasons, which include the wealth of information now available online for in-depth studies, the ease of accessing this information for most parents and teachers, and the fact that it is affordable and much simpler than numerous trips to the library or bookstore. The studies include book suggestions for those who enjoy weekly library trips, but the books are not required to complete the study.

*Easter and Christmas use the Holy Bible as the primary resource.

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How will I know what to do each day?

The daily lesson plan and assignments are all laid out for you, ready for immediate use. No further planning is required. Written with you and your family in mind, just read to find out what to do each day and what is important to learn about the study topic. The research and preparation have all been done for you.

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What is covered in the unit studies?

The studies include history, geography, reading, science, writing, art, and much more. Your students will be involved in interesting investigations into the topic—reading, researching, and learning throughout each day. Instead of saying, "Do we have to do school?" they will look forward to the next day's investigation.

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How long does it take to do the unit studies?

The Unit Study Adventures are designed to cover four weeks, with daily lesson plans for the topic. The Patriotic Holidays unit has four separate, one-week studies for the four main patriotic holidays: Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day.

The studies in the Download N Go™ series are designed to last one week, with daily lesson plans and lapbooking components for each day.

The Passport Geography™ units are one-week studies.

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What other resources do you have available?

You can visit the USAB blog, where Amanda shares tips and tricks from her own homeschooling days, as well as weekly contests, giveaways, and fun freebies.

The USAB Facebook page offers another opportunity to take part in lively discussions with other users of Amanda Bennett unit studies, find out about special offers, and fun content to enrich your studies.

You can follow USAB on Twitter for up-to-the-minute information related to USAB studies.

The USAB Yahoo group is also available to help you stay informed of the latest USAB news and offers.

Whatever your preference for staying “in the know,” USAB is there.

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Can I see some sample lessons?

Sure! Check out this sampler: Unit Study Sampler.

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Can USAB studies be used in co-ops?

Sure! Check out our Multi-User program.

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What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started homeschooling?

  • The things that count can’t be counted.
  • Time goes by too quickly to worry about or obsess over small things, like whether or not my child can read by the time they are five years old, etc.
  • Live today as if there were no tomorrow.
  • We don’t get a second chance to say  "good job" or "I am so proud of you" at the most important moment of accomplishment.
  • Words of encouragement last a lifetime and then some.
  • Share your legacy—your life—with your children.

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Open the WORLD up to your child.
Encourage thinking skills as well as imagination.
Build a strong tree of knowledge.
Help develop lifelong learners, thinkers, wonderers.

What are you waiting for?


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"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." ~Hebrews 11:1 NIV