Our Journey Westward Unit Studies

We’re a Charlotte Mason homeschooling family, yet we enjoy learning history and science through unit studies.  Can those two things go together?

If you’re a Charlotte Mason purist, the answer is no.  Remember, though, I’ve said for years that we are “eclectic Charlotte Mason homeschoolers with a dash of Classical education and unit studies thrown in for good measure.”

Links to all Cindy West's unit studies over the years - history, science, geography, government. Includes living literature and project-based learning ideas.

Because our unit studies are based on wonderful works of living literature – historical fiction, biographies and nonfiction – they definitely have a Charlotte Mason flair.  With living books as the backbone, we can add in whatever additional activities that float our fancy – from hands-on activities and project-based learning to field trips and technology.

Unit studies work for us for many reasons:

  • It’s pretty easy to teach multiple ages using unit studies.
  • We can cover a lot of ground in a compact amount of time.
  • We’re able to tailor the studies to specific learning styles, interests and/or opportunities.
  • Unit studies allow us to dive deep in learning.
  • They inherently cover many other subjects without much extra effort.

In other words, unit studies work for our family.  Even though they don’t fit perfectly with the Charlotte Mason method, they do fit perfectly with our family and that’s what matters.  In fact, if there’s anything you remember from this post…

Do what works for your family.  Even if you tend toward a certain homeschooling style, don’t be afraid to tweak things to meet your family’s learning styles, interests and schedule.

I’ve taken some time to pull together all my unit study posts in one handy dandy place for you.  Feel free to pin this post for quick reference.

Planning Unit Studies

But first, you’ll love this four-part series if you’re thinking about planning your own unit studies.

How to Plan Homeschool Unit Studies

History Unit Studies

Middle Ages (Elementary)

Middle Ages (Middle)




Early American Explorers

Native Americans

Colonial Life

American Revolution

Westward Expansion

Slavery and Civil War

The 1900’s – coming soon

Kentucky History

Geography Unit Studies

Around the U.S.A.

Around the World

U.S. Geography

World Geography

Government Unit Studies

Presidents of the United States

U.S. Government

Science Unit Studies





Human Body

Leonardo da Vinci

Light & Sound


Simple Machines

High School Unit Studies

Our high school unit studies don’t look much like traditional unit studies.  They are much more literature and research driven – as compared to a more hands-on model in the earlier years.

American History

Modern America History

Project-Based Learning

Many of these unit studies incorporate project-based learningThis post gives you a great explanation of project-based learning and links to an entire series I wrote on the subject.

How to Incorporate Project-Based Learning Into Your Homeschool

NaturExplorers Units

Did you know NaturExplorers studies can also be used as unit studies?  Yes!

While some people prefer to just grab the creative nature walk ideas, the “other half” of each book includes everything you need to teach a complete unit study!  Depending on how many of the hands-on activities, research projects, writing assignments and other engaging lessons you choose, each unit study could last 2-8 weeks.  The studies were written with plenty of ideas to keep 1st-8th graders busy in not only science, but history, geography, language arts, music, art, Bible and even some living math.  These are FULL unit studies!  (We still recommend you keep up with sequential math and language arts programs.)

NaturExplorers can be used for nature walk ideas or science unit studies.

Now, tell me your thoughts about unit studies!  Have they worked for your family?  Do you think I’m crazy using them in my Charlotte Mason style homeschool?


  1. Do you alternate between science and history? My son is in 2nd/3rd grade and ready for harder concepts and loves history. My daughter is in kindergarten. This is our first year full time home schooling. I purchased curriculum and I’ve been going for two weeks, but I just feel like it isn’t the right fit. I was considering moving to a unit approach. I would love any insight you could share!!

  2. Megan, when I’m doing unit studies, I’ve found it best to focus on either science or history at one time. So…a 3 week science study then a 3 week history study, then on to a 2 week science study followed by a 4 week history study, for example.

    There have been years when we have done science 2-3 days a week and history the other 2-3 days, but my children always seemed to retain more when we solely focused on one or the other for a period of time.

    There is no right way to do it, though. Whatever works best for your children and your sanity is perfect.

  3. Cindy, I use to do unit studies when my daughter was younger. I had the most fun doing this and I have learned that I thrive on unit studies/short projects. This year I plan to focus on incorporating unit studies for history/geography. She will be in 7th grade and I also have a 3rd and 2nd grader. can I plan my unit studies on whatever we are interested in or do we need to plan history in chronological order? have you done both? what was your experience?

  4. Dora, you do not need to do the unit studies in any particular order. The only thing I would suggest is creating a checklist to make sure you cover all the eras of history at some point. 🙂

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