How to Create a Lazy Unit Study in 5 Steps

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How to Create a Lazy Unit Study in 5 Steps | The Homeschool Sisters Podcast

Written by Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley of My Little Poppies

In a recent episode of The Homeschool Sisters Podcast, Kara and I chatted about trying to get back into the September swing of things.

At the time, we were both knee-deep in interest-driven unit studies. Kara’s kids were all about survivalism and camping, while my kiddos were on a nutrition kick.

As we discussed our respective unit studies, I mentioned how my unit studies tend to be a little, um, lazy.

Yes, I am admitting that I love a good Lazy Unit Study. I’m going to explain why, and then I’m going to share how you can enjoy a Lazy Unit Study or two.

(Because they are kind of awesome. And super easy. And fun.)

Let’s face it- kids are passionate creatures with a wide range of interests.

And those interests sometimes change by the day.

It can be tough to keep up with these kids and their passions.

As a homeschool mom, I know the value of following a child’s lead. I have witnessed the incredible learning that happens when you embrace a current passion and follow those rabbit holes.

And as much as I’d love to fully immerse ourselves in sharks, or Greek mythology, or candlemaking, or Shakespeare, I know that passions and interests come and go.

In the past, I’ve worked like a dog to create an in-depth unit study for a child… only to have that child turn his nose up at it because he had already moved on to the Next Big Thing.

In fact, since the episode aired, we have moved on from nutrition to other pursuits and have enjoyed the following Lazy Unit Studies:

In our homeschool world, one Lazy Unit Study tends to lead to another.

We started off all about nutrition. That led us to hike more than usual. Hiking led to discussions about animal habitats, and that led to an interest in a very specific habitat: the rotting log. This, in turn, led to more hikes in search of rotting logs.

While on one such hike, we met a barred owl.

I have *always* wanted to see an owl on a hike. • We have heard them. We have called to them. They have called back. • But until this afternoon, we haven’t SEEN one. • Sometimes I grumble about how my youngest takes *forever* to complete tasks. • We joke about how he’s so laid back he’s on island time. • But we all know that it is important to take time to smell the roses. To live in the moment and enjoy the little things. • I am not at all surprised that my youngest noticed the owl. Of course he would. It was magical. We had a magical moment with the owl and we would still be there except I have these two other kids who needed to be picked up ? • You can see more in our IG story. (I’m still pinching myself that this ?moment happened!!) • Want to see inside our nature backpacks? Follow the link in my profile! •

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This resulted in an owl unit study and more “owl hunts” while hiking. On one hike, we found bear tracks. This fueled a tracking unit study and an interest in hibernation…

(Can you see what I mean?)

If I planned an in-depth, all-encompassing unit study for every single passion, I’d be completely exhausted!

And that’s why I’ve learned to embrace the Lazy Unit Study. Here’s how you can, too!

How to Create a Lazy Unit Study in 5 Steps

Step 1: Follow your child’s lead

What is your child interested in right now? Trains? Space? Gardening? Tinkering?

Guess what?

You can make a Lazy Unit Study based on that interest.

(And, because your child is passionate about this topic right now, he or she will learn oodles and bunches from your Lazy Unit Study!)

Step 2: Hit the library

I believe you could homeschool with your library card alone.


Whenever my children show interest in a new subject, we hit the library. I grab what I can find, request other books through inter-library loan, and head home to read a stack of delicious books.

Reading aloud to your children is arguably the most important homeschool activity. It levels the playing field so that readers and non-readers can enjoy the same material. Reading aloud sparks fantastic conversation and ideas.

As you read, listen to your kiddos. Think about those questions they ask as you read. Listen to those ideas they share. You might come up with another idea or two for your Lazy Unit Study.

step 3: Don’t forget about those back-pocket gems

I am a huge fan of back-pocket ideas. These are the resources and activities that you save for a rainy day, or a sick day, or a tired day, or a headachy day.

These back-pocket resources are also fantastic for Lazy Unit Studies.

Here are just a few of my favorites:

step 4: add some hands-on learning

Once you’ve read some fantastic books and watched/listened to additional information on the topic, it’s time for something hands-on.

My go-to hands-on activities typically involve art, nature, a field trip, and/or games.

Here are some other ideas:

5: have fun!

Here’s the most important part: Relax… and have fun!

Sometimes, as a homeschool mama, it can be hard to sit back and let learning happen. We want to cross off the to-do list and finish that textbook before month’s end.

The thing is, children don’t follow to-do lists and timelines. They learn at their own unique pace.

Why not embrace it and have fun along the way?

So much learning happens when we just relax and let it!

now, it’s your turn. tell us: do you love a lazy unit study? What are your children passionate about right now? Share here!

How to Create a Lazy Unit Study in 5 Steps


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3 thoughts on “How to Create a Lazy Unit Study in 5 Steps

  1. Laura R Bell says:

    Ya know, some of our best homeschooling days have been when we did just this; I now feel a little more validated that it really does count as school – and a unit study, none the less! I always thought I didn’t like unit studies, but now I know I do! The lazy kind, that is. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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