Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How I Build A Unit {virtually for free}

As I'm preparing for Dawson's next unit on Ancient Rome, I thought I would provide the steps I take to build the unit for free (or mostly free).

We are using A World of Adventure by Dorian Holt. It is a unit study based loosely on Charlotte Mason's philosophies of using Living Books. (I don't know if that's what Ms. Holt intended, but it is certainly the way it worked out.)

So to start each new unit I go through the entire 30 days and jot down notes about the topics we will cover, the science experiments she has provided and the Fine Arts projects she suggests. Some we use and some we don't.

Then I do this ...

1.    DVR. The very first thing I do (and I actually do this about weekly) is a DirectTV search on the topic. I just put in "Ancient Rome", for example, and set our DVR to record every show or movie on the topic. I usually end up with about 5 or 6 things for us to watch.

2.    Library. Then I hit our library website. We are part of the Tulsa Public Library system, so we can utilize about 20 libraries in our area. I can simply request what I want online and the selections are sent to my local library for pickup.
    •  I do a general search for the topic, "Ancient Rome", and request any books I think will give us some good general facts about the topic.
    • I do a specific search for military related topics on that ancient country because Dawson is very interested in that.
    • I do a specific search for any arts and crafts from that era to try to incorporate some additional Fine Arts.
    • I do a specific search for books or videos on foods for that ancient country, because Dawson likes to cook.
    • I do a specific Media search for that era to pick up any videos we might not have available through DirectTV.
    • I also try to find him a book or two for personal reading, something more along the lines of historical fiction, from that era.
    • For science I look for books that will have experiments or projects having to do with our unit. With Ancient Rome we will be doing a rock study, including volcanoes, so obviously my search would include these topics.
3.    Online Searches. Then I utilize all of the ones who have gone before me. I do Google searches and blog searches looking for any cool ideas others have found or interactive websites to supplement our curriculum.

Other than supplies for the various projects and meals, I typically do not spend one cent on books, videos or other materials! By saving money in these areas, I can then afford to purchase other things, like a rock set for our geology lesson.

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