Are you planning for the new school year? Unit studies are a great way to teach little ones about different topics while having fun! Here are some easy ways you can create simple unit studies for less than $5!
How to Create Unit Studies For Less Than $5
When we first began our schooling journey at home I had such a fun time planning all of the activities we are going to do throughout the year with our oldest. We hoped to better understand the learning techniques of our children and how they will do best in school and also show them that school and learning can be fun.
I took a whole summer setting up and putting together our unit studies for the year. We will do one unit each week for 34 weeks (with a few breaks for holidays in between). As I’ve mentioned before, due to their past, our children function best on a schedule and on a routine so it’s important that we have a plan before we get started.
We began this plan when our littles were in preschool but it seems to have worked because now that we are getting into different grades, we still have a deep love for a good unit study. They are just so fun!
Here’s a glimpse at the overview of our Preschool year. We have a fun variety of topics we will be learning about. We only “do school” for a short amount of time each day when they are this age and we are only do schooling 4 days a week because one of our days is usually full of therapies so we don’t want to make it overwhelming.
I organized our units into containers on bookshelves in our schoolroom. Each time I head to the store I pick up a few more. I still don’t have containers for each week (as you can see by the pile of books in the picture) but it works for weeks to come. Each week is clearly labeled so if I find something else that would be fun to add to the week I can simply toss it in the correct box.
The amount spent on each box will depend on the theme but here are some simple ideas to get you started creating unit studies for less than $5.
1. Make a list
I’ve written out the activities planned for each week. They consist of simple crafts made from household items and other crafty things (that I buy from the Dollar Store!) We are using some crafts from a few different books that I have or was given as well as some crafts and activities that we just made up. Each craft/activity goes along with the main theme of the week. Our first unit is Blue Week.
2. Start planning early.
I started planning our school year as early as possible so I could take full advantage of what I could find at thrift stores, rummage sales, and some of those nice 50% off Hobby Lobby coupons!
3. Shop after-holiday sales.
I picked up several things last year after certain holidays. Themed activity books, bowls/cups for stacking and sorting, stickers, or other small items (like pencil erasers) that can be used as math manipulatives are a great addition to your unit study and can be found on clearance.
4. Make a list of books that go with each theme.
One other thing I’ve done is to make a list of books pertaining to each of our themed weeks. Now when we go to the local library (which does not use an electronic system so I can’t look these up ahead of time!) we have a list of books to search for to add to our week. A great addition to our week…for free!
5. Use what you have.
A lot of our supplies and games are some that we already had or were given to us as gifts. I also ended up finding myself with a huge amount of old formula containers so that’s what we used to organize our craft supplies! They worked great and fit perfectly on the cheap shelves we have up right now. Plus they are easy to wash out in case anything spills!
Below are some examples of the fun unit studies I’ve created for less than $5 for our family.
Colors Week Unit Study
Here’s a peek inside of my box for the colors week. This box will actually be used for 3 weeks since we have 3 different color themes planned. The Colors book is a wipe-off book I picked up for $1 at Mardel. The picture of fruit with colors next to them are window clings I found at the dollar store. The books in the picture are ones that we had that happen to be about colors. The Colors book in the box is a magnetic activity book, I found it for $5 from Rainbow Resource. Colors and Shapes is a game I got at the thrift store for $0.50 and the flashcards I found at the dollar store. The bowls with spools is a color matching game I made. I found the wooden bowls at a garage sale for $1 and paid $2 for the spools from Hobby Lobby.
Everything in this box cost me a total of $10.50 or were things I already had, so minus the cost of crafty supplies that would be about $3.50 per week. (since we will use this one 3 times)
Bugs Unit Study
Here’s a sample of our plans for “Bugs Week”. My son loves all bugs so he is going to love this week!
Here’s what I have inside my Bug Unit Box right now. A bug measuring game that we were given. Insect flashcards from the dollar store. Some books about bugs that we already had. A little magnifying glass that we were also given. Some bug shading cards that I found for $0.10 at a rummage sale. And a honey bee wooden puzzle from the dollar store.
Not including the crafty supplies, this box cost me a total of $2.10 to put together.
Valentine’s Unit Study
One more sample week for you to see! This is our “Valentine’s & Hearts Week”. This week is fun because we are going on a “field trip” to the post office to mail off valentines. 🙂
Not much in this box yet but so far I have some heart foam stickers that we will use for crafts. I can’t remember where I got them so I will guess the dollar store! The Valentine’s Day coloring book was from the dollar store as were the Valentines which I had leftover from last year. The heart stamp I used a coupon for at Hobby Lobby and paid $2 and the rest are books that we had on hand about Valentine’s Day.
Minus the craft supplies needed I paid $4 for this box.
My children are always excited to start on school thanks to the fun unit studies that we add into our curriculum! Do you homeschool.. when are you starting?
Looking for more ideas? Check out these fun busy bag ideas out for extra activities to add to your unit studies.
You can learn more about saving money here also: Saving Money on School Supplies.
What are some ways that you save money on school supplies and curriculum?
This post on How to Create Unit Studies for Less Than $5 was originally posted on Little House Living in August 2015. It was updated as of August 2019.