How to turn ANYTHING into a Unit Study

Family Homeschooling: Large Families, Only Children, & Multiple Ages!

By Lauren Schroeder From Salt & Light Speed

A long time ago, in a homeschool not so far away...

UNIT STUDIES have emerged as a powerful ally in the battle against mundane education. The Jedi moms of homeschooling have discovered a secret weapon—INTERCONNECTED ADVENTURES that transcend traditional boundaries.

In this epic saga, children take turns leading the rebellion against boredom, exploring their interests like skilled pilots navigating the galaxy!

Ok, enough drama Lauren… But really, it IS pretty epic, so whip out your lightsabers (um… pens?), and let’s get planning an awesome unit study tailor-made for your family!

Step 1: Choose a Subject

Selecting a subject for your homeschool unit study is easier than it seems. I involve my kids in the decision-making process by letting them take turns choosing the topic.

You might think this ends in chaos (the homeschooler’s worst nightmare!), but the beauty of this approach is that everything is interconnected, so you can cover multiple subjects under the umbrella of a seemingly random topic.

Recently, my daughter chose music as our focus, and it has been a fascinating exploration. They really can choose anything: high-heels, Space X, the Rennaisance, why their toe got itchy the other day.

Everything is fair game because everything is related! Don’t forget to give yourself a turn, too, Mamas!!! You know you want one! For my turn, I picked Star Wars (because I’m a grown-up, so there). That’s what I’m going to be planning as I write this.

I just LOVE that this approach provides a unique lens for exploring history without always centering on war and politics.

While these themes may still be touched upon (for example, music's influence on culture and its role in historical conflicts), the primary focus doesn't always have to be on war, offering a refreshing perspective compared to conventional history curricula.

So, got your subject? Great! Let’s move on.

Step 2: Define Learning Objectives

Now is when you sneak in all of the skills and subjects you want to cover in your unit study.

For our Star Wars unit study, along with our usual subjects of math, literature, science and geography, I've set my sights on teaching circuits (um, design your own droid? YES PLEASE.) and exploring world religion (or out-of-this-world religion, in the case of the Jedi) from a Christian perspective. How do all these subjects relate to Star Wars?? I’m glad you asked!!

Math, Social Studies, and Art: Looking through my RightStart book, I see a few lessons about money that I need to go back and do.

I think I’ll combine that with social studies and art and have the kids do a biography of a planet each week. Think beautiful planet finger painting, with any observations about the local economy, currency, and culture.

Circuits: We recently got the “30 Days in Space” circuit kit for Christmas, and we’ve already been going through “Electronics for Kids” by Øyvind Nydal Dahl (both fantastic resources!). They’re both pretty on target for a Star Wars unit study, so I think we can just keep going through them as-is.

I’m pretty loosey-goosy, so if you have any more structured materials you like to use, feel free to incorporate them like I did our RightStart curriculum! Or you can even take a step back from the “Unit Study” and just focus on that subject.

No rule says 100% of your day needs to be the unit study. It’s merely a tool; use it when it works, ditch it when it doesn’t!
Step 3: Gather Resources

I love a good piece of literature and usually use a beautiful book about our subject to form the roadmap for our unit study. We’re using DK’s Music Encyclopedia right now to guide us through our music unit study, for example. 

Star Wars, though, is a bit different. We’re going to use the original three movies (episodes IV-VI) to guide our study. We usually keep screen time to one movie a week, so this will be that movie each week. 

You might notice I just decided how long the study would be. A length of time usually comes to mind and seems to fit naturally during this step.

We’ve done a Mt. St. Helens unit study that was as short as 1.5 weeks, and our current music unit study is 8 weeks, probably the shortest and longest I’d ever make them. Choosing your roadmap—or your spine as some would call it—should help you decide an appropriate length of time.

Step 4: Make your Schedule

With our unit study subjects changing so often, I love to keep a regular rhythm (as much as possible) in our school. We start with Bible study, then a read-aloud or two, a warm-up, lesson, hands-on activity, individual work time, and then close with a devotional. 

Whatever your routine, write it in a spreadsheet, with the days going across the top, then simply fill in the gaps! If you feel overwhelmed (as I tend to do), just look back at your objectives. One by one, add each objective or project idea to a week that would make sense.

For me, I know the World Religions writing project will need at least one day per week of dedicated work, so I added those in. Then I added in my RightStart lessons, weekly planet profile art/economy/math project, and my coding lessons. By tackling one objective at a time, your chart will be filled out in no time!

Don’t forget the living books; I found some pretty sweet “Making of Star Wars”-type books, and I’m going to find some more that would point to why Star Wars was (and is) such a big deal!

Step 5: Add in more fun!

Is there anything you wanted to add in, any idea you had that just didn’t fit in with the objectives? Now’s your chance to add them in! I’m going to take a bit of each Friday and dedicate it to trying to reproduce some of the special effects from the movies.

I’ll have the kids use tiny models in a black box with holes poked in it to be the stars to do a cool space-panning effect, for example. Luckily I’m super nerdy and already have mini Star Wars ships all around the house!


Remember that the force of homeschooling is strong with creativity and flexibility. Unit studies provide a dynamic way to delve into diverse subjects, allowing your children to explore their interests while mastering essential skills.

Choosing a subject, defining learning objectives, and crafting a schedule are the warp and weft of this educational tapestry. Embrace the adventures that unfold, and don't forget to give yourself a turn in the captain's seat. 

May your homeschooling endeavors be as epic as a galaxy far, far away, and may your unit studies be filled with discovery, excitement, and the thrill of exploration!

How to turn ANYTHING into a Unit Study

Lauren Schroeder was a Boeing Engineer who moved overseas and became a homeschool mom and university educator. Excited to share her passion for coding with her kids, she pulled together her experience coding, teaching, and momming; she wrote her own curriculum which can be found at

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