Teaching Science | Unit Study or Single Subject?

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teaching science unit study or single subject | Whether you're teaching science as a single subject or unit study, the key would be to get out and do experiments and activities that tie in with the topic, no matter what the approach. Have fun!

Teaching Science | Unit Study or Single Subject?

“I like the ideas of using a scope and sequence, but how should I teach science as a single subject or as a unit study?” 

There are many ways to teach science, and you need to decide which is best for our family. Let’s look at some examples, starting with science as a single subject.

Teaching Science as a Single Subject

I could look at a scope and sequence and find that a single subject, say Astronomy, is one of the topics to be covered this year. Under this subject, I could choose a subtopic, such as astronomers, stars and constellations, galaxies, etc.

If I were to emphasize the single subject approach, the children would take turns reading the books containing the topic we were studying, discuss the book, and supplement with activities tied to the topic. Other subjects, such as history, would be done separately.

Teaching Science as a Unit Study

Emphasizing the unit study approach, we would read as many library books and do as many experiments dealing with the topic as we could find. We would tie as many subjects together as possible. We’d plan to spend four to eight weeks on the unit. It’s ideal to cover as many subjects as possible, and science easily fits with history.

You can study the history of the subject, people, places, and even science tools as part of your science unit study. This lets children see the bigger picture, rather than learning things in isolation from one another. I’ve found they really enjoy making the connections themselves and having those aha moments.

Teaching Science to Multiple Ages or Grade Levels

If you are teaching a variety of ages, having more subjects overlapping makes your job much easier. A Unit Study truly unites the family!

A unit study is taking a topic and incorporating as many of the following school subjects as possible:  science, history, math, reading, language arts, spelling, grammar, creative writing, art, and music. New skills can be taught as old skills are reinforced. While our family chose to do phonics and math as separate subjects, you can easily incorporate those as well.

Multiple Level Teaching Example

Let me give you an example. We studied a geology unit. It took eight weeks to complete. You can decide how you want to lay our your day- who you work with when, what grade-level to “teach to”, and which activities you’ll directly supervise.  Teaching to the oldest is a popular way of teaching a variety of ages.

Let’s pretend you’re teaching four grade levels. Ages 2, 5, 9, 13, and 16 years of age. Watch how many subjects can go together.

  • Bible – read the Bible selection aloud. Discuss difficult words.
  • Reading – assign separate reading for the readers, have a read aloud, and read books to the youngers—all on the same subject.
  • Spelling – create an age appropriate word list from the reading selections
  • Grammar- ages 5 and under could use simple copywork, nine year old can identify parts of speech, and the older can diagram sentences from the reading selection
  • Science- a group experiment plus the 5-9 year old could work on a hands-on project together, giving the toddler a “helper” role. The older can do topic specific research with parent approved research tools, such as the internet.
  • Creation camp- hold a creation camp at home. Get everyone involved!

Whether you’re teaching science as a single subject or unit study, the key would be to get out and do experiments and activities that tie in with the topic, no matter what the approach. Have fun!



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