Each year as I plan for our new homeschool year to begin, excitement fills my mind as I fill pages and pages of my homeschool planner with plans…MY plans. Each year, I know this year is going to be better because my children are a little older and their mama is a little wiser than the year before.
This year, we will enjoy our days and have more structure (because we always need more than last year). Each year, my planner reflects all kinds of amazing curriculum choices and lesson plans that we will undoubtedly be able to get through…now that life is settling down after a very trying season.
And then, life never quite settles down.
Can you relate? Have you ever had all your plans laid out and then suddenly, you know they’re just not going to work for whatever reason? You need to pivot.
We can’t predict what may or may not happen just around the corner, but we can still have peace-filled days if we’re willing to surrender those plans to the Lord. So, I pray and asked God to show me what to do.
When this recently happened, I was led to try doing unit studies.
Unit studies often require minimal effort on the teacher’s/parent’s part but have maximum impact on the children.
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Magic Tree House Unit Studies
Have you ever read any of the Magic Tree House series books by Mary Pope Osborn? There are 52 of them to choose from! Most (if not all) of them can be checked out from your local library if you don’t want to buy them.) We purchased them because they are that good and my children want to read them over and over. But it’s not necessary to buy them.
Part of what I love about these adventurous books is their titles….Pirates Past Noon, Vacation Under the Volcano, Tonight on the Titanic, Christmas in Camelot, Carnival at Candlelight, and High Time for Heroes. Don’t those just grab you?
Each book follows the amazing adventures of siblings, Jack and Annie, who travel through time to different cultures and during different times in history.
This series is a favorite of ours, as we’ve already read quite a few of the books. These books are geared for children between the ages of about 5 to 11 years old. (But, honestly, even as an adult, I love them!)
I love how beautifully the stage is set and young minds are primed and eager to learn when the content of a story is so well presented.
Magic Tree House Unit Studies
And then one day, I happened upon the Magic Tree House website for this series–which led me to an incredible resource: Free Lesson Plans (I call them unit studies) for each one of the books. I was blown away and as I pored over these lessons. I realized just how well put together they really were.
Each book covers many topics relating to the adventures written about. Here is an example of what subjects you’ll cover as you read and do the unit study for each book.
- language arts
- social studies
- science & technology
- nature & conversation
- animals & wildlife
- character building lessons
- visual arts
- theatre arts
And my very favorite part is that all four of my children (ages 3 – 9 at this time) LOVE these stories, which means I get to teach all of them TOGETHER.
The lessons are laid out well, flow naturally, and really cover a wide array of subjects. And you know how homeschooling goes….there are rabbit trails, always rabbit trails.
When we read about Jack and Annie going up into space in Midnight on the Moon, of course, we checked out all kinds of other books from the library that led to many conversations about space travel and how God created the universe.
In Carnival at Candlelight, my boys learned all about Venice. We touched on Greek Mythology, studied two famous painters, learned about the significance of Carnival and the importance of many character traits and virtues highlighted within that story.
Non-Fiction Companions to the Magic Tree House Books
There are also some non-fiction companions to the Magic Tree House books. They are called Magic Tree House Fact Tracker. Not all of the Magic Tree House books have a companion Magic Tree House Fact Tracker book, but many of them do. It’s worth taking a look to see if there’s one available for whatever book you’re reading.
Don’t be afraid to add your own ideas and explore your kids’ rabbit trails and interests!
Any time you read books with your children, it’s a great idea to explore their own ideas and allow them to go down rabbit trails to learn more about particular topics that interest them.
If you’re reading, for example, Mummies in the Morning, look for:
- an activity or tutorial showing you how to create a cartouche (basically an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic nameplate that was often included in the coffin to indicate who was inside)
- books and activities for learning more about the Egyptian pyramids
- even more books for your Ancient Egypt book list
- instructions and information for learning to play Egyptian Senet
- or instructions for creating your own mummified apple
Your kids don’t have to all be the same age/grade level to be able to enjoy reading the Magic Tree House book series and to learn from doing all kinds of related fun, educational activities in your homeschool! Just choose a book or two, look at the Magic Tree House website, and do a quick Google search to find more ideas and activities. Then have fun working and learning together!
If you haven’t tried the Magic Tree House series with your elementary-level students, you should! They are a fun way to teach all of your children at the same time and have a great time reading and learning together!