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Don’t Be a Ping-Pong Ball: Turning Your Schoolio Units into Unit Studies

Did you know you can turn your Schoolio units into unit studies?

More than one age/grade level child can participate in a Schoolio unit; even if they are outside the grade range, we recommend the unit. This is how I’ve always done it with my kids, and it works great to minimize how much you need to go back and forth between kids who are learning different concepts.

Let’s use my kids as an example; they’re roughly in grades 4 and 6 this year. Now let’s use Science for our example: there are four recommended units for each grade for Science here in Ontario, where I live if I’m following the government expectations, so I have 8 Science units total for the whole year for my two kiddos. All you need to do to make it a unit study is to teach all 8 units to both kids together, one at a time!

Either I will pick the unit order (sometimes it matters what time of year we study something, like studying Plants and Soils in the spring so we can grow things in the garden simultaneously), or I let the kids vote for which units we do and when. It’s all planned out at the beginning of the year in my long-range planning templates, which you can find in the Schoolio Families Facebook group.

Let’s say we are doing Rocks and Minerals, which is levelled at grades 3-5. I put all the other Schoolio units on the shelf for now, and everyone learns Rocks and Minerals. My sixth grader has done this topic before, but that was two years ago when he was in grade 4, and it never hurts to review things. My fourth grader was introduced to this topic when we did it two years ago, and she was in grade 2, but she’s much more capable now of understanding it more completely and on a deeper level.

Our lesson period looks like this: I read the lesson aloud to everyone, we discuss our thoughts as a group, we ask questions, we look up answers, we watch any included media, we fall rabbit holes online, we do any included activities, etc. When it’s time to hit the books for practice work, the child in Grade 4 does the assigned work in the Schoolio unit because she’s perfectly within the recommended grade range. My grade 6 child is either going to do a second copy of the same work (it’s a grade 3-5 unit, and he’s in grade 6, so it’s not a big stretch), or I will give him an extension activity if I feel like he needs more of a challenge.

What are good extension activity options? It depends on the age(s) of the other kid(s).

Here are some options:

1) Have the kids work together on the assigned work (kids work in pairs and small groups at school all the time). This works best if the other children are younger than the grade the unit is designed for because then the older kid takes the lead and figures out most answers while the younger ones are contributing thoughts and learning through listening and watching the older one. If the other children are older, you want to watch this method that the older kid is not just giving the younger ones all the answers.

2) Photocopy the assigned work and work on the same practice work but their own with their own copies. This is a great option if your kids are both in the grade range of the unit (or close) or if your kids don’t work well together; as we all know, siblings have a tendency to not on occasion…

3) Have some different work for the other grade children. This is the most work on your part, but it’s still much easier than teaching multiple subjects to multiple kids all at once!

  1. a) For younger kids, I would go with simple things like colouring pages or even read a levelled reader to you while the older kid works.
  2. b) You can also ask younger kids to draw or write a few sentences (depending on their age) about what they learned in the lesson.
  3. c) For older kids, writing a summary of what they just learned and discussed in the lesson or doing further research or reading on the topic for more depth of knowledge are great options.
  4. c) Older kids can also act as “teacher’s helper” with the younger kids- they can read the questions aloud to them, scribe their answers, and other helpful things like that. Many older kids love the opportunity to act as a tutor to their younger siblings!Creating unit studies is all about each child’s work expectations and making those little accommodations to turn the single unit into a group study. The closer the children are in age, the easier it is, but it is not difficult with children who have wide age gaps either!

Group studies are a fun way for everyone to learn more and for you as a teacher to get that ping-pong ball feeling from bouncing back and forth between children who are doing different work. I hope this helps you make the most of your Schoolio homeschooling journey!

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