Unit studies have always been my jam.
Easy for me to whip up, minimal planning on my part, and we always do half or even less of whatever I come up with. It just depends on what the kids want to do. I just follow them around the rabbit trail as they learn and discover using the resources I’ve found.
But now that my big kid is ten years old, I’m thinking of switching things up, venturing down paths that are wholly uncomfortable or new to me as a homeschool parent—having him do all the planning and researching—giving him complete control.
Is this us entering into the world of Project-Based Learning (PBL), or is it closer to Unschooling? I have no clue!
👉🏼 Give me tips, be my mentor, guide me down this road.
I don’t know what I’m doing, and that’s kinda nerve-wracking. I follow quite a few unschoolers and feel like this is the path we’re slowly moving towards; however, I’m having a hard time finding folks that use Project-Based Learning (PBL) in their homeschool, at least in the sense of how I view the method. If you know any, let me know! I only know classroom teachers using PBL.
What we’ve been studying
Our one-week fall break has slowly morphed into three weeks, so no formal learning for us. We have been reading lots of books (see below), playing tons of games (Catan, Ticket to Ride, The Oregon Trail, and Horrified,) and going on field trips (videos to come soon!)
I’ve also been using the time to work on a couple of new niche blogs while my kids have been planning and filming horror spoofs for their Youtube channel.
So learning is happening, just not in a traditional sense, and this is why I feel like we’re slowly moving towards unschooling.
What we’ve been reading
Beastly Tales – Bookshop.org | Amazon
A classic in our household. After eight years of reading this book over and over and over, we’re finally on our second copy.
Don’t Read This Book Before Bed – Bookshop.org | Amazon
My kids love scary stories, and I know for a fact that they inherited this from me!
Funny Bones – Bookshop.org | Amazon
A great introduction to both artist José Guadalupe Posada and Mexico’s Dia de lost Muertos. The Day of the Dead is a big thing here in Southern California – authentic celebrations and ceremonial processions, ofrendas in both homes and cemeteries, and lots of food! Make Pan de Muerto and Champurrado to celebrate the season.
Creepy Carrots – Bookshop.org | Amazon
Another book we’ve read a million times! I’ve learned to keep all of our Halloween books in our Halloween storage container, that way we don’t read the same books over and over ALL YEAR LONG.
The Spider and the Fly – Bookshop.org | Amazon
An excellent picture book based on the poem by Mary Howitt.
Edgar Gets Ready for Bed – Bookshop.org | Amazon
I’m a big Edgar Allen Poe fan, so I had to add this book to our collection.
Nightsong – Bookshop.org | Amazon
A beautiful coming-of-age story about a bat!
Henry and Mudge: Under the Yellow Moon – Bookshop.org | Amazon
My kids adore the Henry and Mudge series, and they’re constantly asking me for a dog.
In a Dark, Dark Room – Bookshop.org | Amazon
A spooky easy reader for your kids that are learning to read.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Bookshop.org | Amazon
A classic! I read this book repeatedly as a child and introduced it to my 10-year-old last year. He loved it and now wants to see the movie. Hopefully, it’s as good as the book! We’re trying to watch one spooky movie a day until Halloween but haven’t been very good at keeping up.
A World Full of Spooky Stories – Bookshop.org | Amazon
I love this book. We just read a few stories every year in October, so I’m not done with it yet, but my 10-year-old has already read the book from cover to cover. I’m telling you, Halloween and creepy things are big in our house.
Little Blue Truck’s Halloween – Bookshop.org | Amazon
Keeping it light for the littles.
Are you looking for a fun and easy Halloween/Fall activity to do? Last year we did Art History Kid’s Yayoi Kusama Pumpkin Party, and my children loved it. You’ll learn all about the artist, explore her artwork, and then create your own Yayoi Kusama-inspired pumpkin art.
Recently, my 10-year-old asked if we could renew his subscription to The Week Junior, a current events magazine for kids. I’m like, “Yes, of course! 🥳” Listen to your kids, friends. They’ll steer you in the direction they want to learn.
Have you heard of Bookshop.org? It’s an online bookstore that supports local, independent bookstores. I recently opened up my own Bookshop to help promote and support books I love and the independent bookstores I frequent. It’s a win-win situation, and you should check it out.
Anyone else ready to get cozy for the holiday season? The Danish idea of Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is totally my vibe – scented candles, twinkling lights, roaring fireplace, soft blankets, piping hot tea, lots of books, and binge-watching shows with the family. Usually, Halloween is my favorite holiday, but this year I’m already jonesing for winter and can’t wait to make our home smell amazing with a Christmas Simmer Pot.
One of my bucket list items is to see the Northern Lights. Sadly we didn’t get to see them when we were in Iceland a few years ago, but I’m trying to convince my husband that we need to go to Alaska or Canada to witness the Aurora Borealis. In the meantime, I bought this Northern Lights Activity Kit from Tiny Nest Studio. I love the quality and care Georgia put into this kit, and that all my children, ages 3 to 10, can enjoy the activities. Secretly, I’m hoping my kids will get all excited about the Northern Lights, too, so we can convince my husband to take some time off.
Side note: Make sure you snag her Alaska Reindeer Box before she sells out. It was a big hit with my kids last year.
Did you hear that Julie Bogart is coming out with a new book early next year? I can’t wait! The pre-order for Raising Critical Thinkers is now available, so be sure to get yours soon! I love everything that’s she’s shared with the world about homeschooling, and in her next book, she discusses ways we can teach our children to assess information with both an open and discerning mind.
I recently wrote a Guide to Creating a Simple Vincent van Gogh Unit Study if you missed it. Lots of resources, videos, and activities to get you going, and you can download my free Super Simple Unit Study Planner to help you get organized.
On my nightstand
A Season with the Witch – Bookshop.org | Amazon
This was a fun book. The author moved his family of 4 to Salem, MA for the month of October so they could experience all things Halloween that occur in the town. He interviewed historians, citizens, business owners, and tourists, as well as, visited historical sites and attractions during their stay. I recommend that you pair this book with Season 1 of Aaron Mahnke’s Unobscured podcast to get a deeper understanding of the Salem Witch Trials if you are not well-read on the topic, and don’t skip the interviews! To me, those were the most enlightening.
The Five – Bookshop.org | Amazon
I bought this book after listening to the first episode of Bad Women: The Ripper Retold. Both the book and the podcast detail the lives of the five women that Jack the Ripper murdered in 1888. They were more than just prostitutes, and this book delves deeper into who they were as well as the social history of women during the late 19th century. Make sure you check out Season 3 of Unobscured which is also about the women that were murdered by the Ripper and the world they all inhabited.
The Rules of Magic – Bookshop.org | Amazon
I’m reliving my 90s youth with this novel. This is the second book in the Practical Magic series, which until recently, I had no clue there was an actual series. I’ve already put in a library request for the next two books.
How to Raise an Adult – Bookshop.org | Amazon
I want to share this book with so many people, but I’m afraid they would take it the wrong way. We love our kids so much that oftentimes we overprotect and overparent, leaving them to grow up feeling like they can’t handle things on their own. We have to remind ourselves that our job as parents is to raise our kids to be confident, capable adults, and to do that, we have to learn to let go and allow them to struggle and learn from their mistakes.
Now I want to hear from you! Have you discovered any exciting books or homeschool resources? I’d love to know!
Xuan Klevecka is a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and sometimes purveyor of vintage goods. She’s an Enneagram 5w4, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find her looking at road maps and daydreaming about her family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood.