Creating an Integrated Unit of Study

One of the things I love about homeschool is you get to study anything you want. I mean, the ADULTS do. Yes, I love to learn alongside my son. We have learned about some interesting things over the last two years.

When I work with teachers, they struggle to “fit it all in,” and science and outdoor exploration get pushed to one side, because they need to spend large blocks of time on language arts and mathematics. I wanted to develop a unit which integrates these topics into a nature study or science topic, so that teachers could feel comfortable that, through science, they were adequately addressing both science concepts and core skills in language arts and math. One topic that we revisited a number of times last year was the topic of ants.

My first step in the development of this unit was to brainstorm all the connections to the topic of ants, making sure I included science, social studies, math and language arts, as well as the arts, and health and wellness. I love to use Inspiration to do this (you can download a 30-day free trial, and the full program  is around $65, which includes an instant download and a CD for back up).

Here are sections of the “mind map” that I developed. Remember, these are not meant to be exhaustive: rather, they are springboards for more research, and ways to make sure that all avenues are explored. From these ideas, I will select the ones that best fit the grade-level expectations for my target age group of students.


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Based on the brainstorm, I identified some key topics for this integrated unit:

  • communities and interdependence (including families, towns, countries and the world)
  • multiplication, including the multiplication/addition relationship, and functions involving multiplication
  • symbolism – ants in poetry and prose
  • anti- and -ant affixes
  • social insects (bees, ants, termites)
  • preventing and treating insect bites
  • marching/military music


View the full Inspiration map for ants here.


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