• Free Pirate Unit Study Resources - great for talk like a pirate day
    history,  unit studies

    Pirate Mini Unit Study Resources

    One of the units I had on my list to study this year was pirates. And since September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day I thought we would learn about them leading up to that day.

    We’ve only done a few unit studies so far this year but this one was our favorite one yet.

    Pirates are a fun topic to study but it does involve a fair amount of weeding through fact and fiction.

    The kids totally got into pirate mode and dressed up in some old Halloween costumes.


    Free Pirate Unit Study Resources - great for talk like a pirate day


    There are so many great books, videos and resources for a pirate study, we could have studied the topic all year!

    But since there are other topics we want to study it can’t last forever.

    Today I want to share some of the resources we used for this study. We actually will continue to learn about it all this week yet so if I come across any more as the week goes by I’ll add them in here.


    Free Pirate Unit Study Resources - great for talk like a pirate day




    I like to do my own version of strewing* when it comes to our unit studies.

    *Not sure what strewing is? It is simply just laying out a number of materials for your children to discover and letting them pick up the ones they find most interesting.

    The evening before (or in the morning before the kids are up) I get a lot of our resources out and display them on the table along with a fact related to the topic.

    Like this:


    Free Pirate Unit Study Resources - great for talk like a pirate day


    Then I see what peaks their interest first.

    This time it was the fact that I had displayed:

    Pirates actually wore eyepatches.

    I explained to each of my kids (separately because they wake up at very different times) that they did not wear an eyepatch because they were missing an eye but I would explain to them later the reasoning behind it.

    Well, that piqued their interest!

    When it came time for our unit study I explained that pirates actually wore an eyepatch to help with fighting in the dark, like at night or below deck.

    Mythbusters even tried this out and found it to be very effective:



    Of course, when you happen to have an actual eye patch from the days of correcting your son’s eye muscles, it not only becomes a great addition to a costume, it also helps in testing the theory.


    Free Pirate Unit Study Resources - great for talk like a pirate day


    My intention behind strewing with out unit studies is just to lay out a number of different materials on the topic and dive into the ones that interest them the most. I often get resources from the library and just search our house for books and items on the topic.

    Here’s a list of the different books I had out:


    Tough Boris – our favorite Mem Fox picture book!

    Boris von der Borch is a mean, greedy old pirate–tough as nails, through and through, like all pirates. Or is he? When a young boy sneaks onto Boris’s ship, he discovers that Boris and his mates aren’t quite what he expected.


    Small Saul – another ones of our favorite pirate picture books (also, I love that the French version is Petite Paul).

    When Small Saul joins the crew of The Rusty Squid, it doesn’t take long for the other pirates to notice something is very different about this tiny fellow. He was born to sing sea shanties, bake pineapple upside down cakes and redecorate, not to hold a sword and plunder. Being rough and tough just isn’t in his nature.


    Pirate Handbook – this was one of our favorite books, we read through most of it, learning about different ways to be a “good” pirate, some of the myths and truths and some information about actual pirates.

    This is a humorous guide to life on the high seas packed with intriguing historical detail that no self-respecting sea-dog should leave port without. Young landlubbers can become the fiercest of pirates by finding out how to keep their ship in tip-top shape, the best way to settle an argument with a shipmate and how to survive a storm at sea. It reveals the true nature of piracy to be more fascinating than the myths of peg legs, eye patches and parrots.


    Free Pirate Unit Study Resources - great for talk like a pirate day


    Pirates Past Noon – my kids love all things Magic Tree House, this book included!

    It’s a treasure trove of trouble! Jack and Annie are in for a high-seas adventure when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to the days of deserted islands, secret maps—and ruthless pirates! Will they discover a buried treasure? Or will they be forced to walk the plank?


    Usborne Illustrated Unabridged Treasure Island – I love the books in this series!


    Usborne Abridged Treasure Island – I couldn’t find this one to link it but I think it’s a good chapter book for kids to read on their own if they are interested in the book before they are ready for the full thing.


    Free Pirate Unit Study Resources - great for talk like a pirate day


    Frances Drake and the Sea Rovers of the Spanish Main – I remember learning about Sir Frances Drake in elementary school so I was excited to find this one.


    Usborne Timelines of World History – I found some references to Frances Drake and it was nice to see it on a bit of a visual timeline.

    A gorgeously illustrated guide to the history of the world, from wars and revolutions to ground-breaking inventions, discoveries and artistic movements. With over 3,500 key dates from the Stone Age to the year 2000, organised geographically so readers can compare what was happening in different parts of the world.


    You can check out more great pirate books here.


    Free Pirate Unit Study Resources - great for talk like a pirate day


    We also used two of our step-by-step drawing books to draw some piratey pictures. This book and this one are our favorites.

    While we used the drawing books a bit the kids also decided to draw some of their own pirate creations as well.


    Free Pirate Unit Study Resources - great for talk like a pirate day


    Of course, if you prefer to use a drawing video you can always turn to Art for Kids Hub, this pirate drawing video looks fun.



    Of course it was fun to learn that there actually were some women pirates as well since the only ones I had heard about previously were men, here’s some information on two real-life pirates you’ve probably never heard of.


    Free Pirate Unit Study Resources - great for talk like a pirate day


    Fellow homeschool mom and blogger Monique Willms recommended we listen to Lives of the Pirates which our library has on audio, it includes short stories on actual pirates. We’re a few stories in and enjoying it.


    And of course, we can’t study pirates going into Talk Like a Pirate Day and not have a handy dandy pirate talk sheet! I found this free one online. As well as this free find your pirate name sheet.


    Free Pirate Unit Study Resources - great for talk like a pirate day


    There really was so much more we could have learned about pirates but for a short less-than-a-week study I think we did pretty good!

    We’re actually going to continue studying pirates for the next couple of days so I may add a few more resources to this post if we find some good ones!


    Have some great pirate resources to share? Leave them in the comments below!


    Free Pirate Unit Study Resources - great for talk like a pirate day

  • How I Plan Our Homeschool Year Without a Curriculum
    nature study,  science,  unit studies

    Weather Mini Unit Study Resources

    We’ve been continuing with our Monday mini unit studies in as part of our homeschool rhythm and our next topic of study was weather!

    I actually gave the kids the option between butterflies and weather and this is what they both chose. I was actually surprised by that choice.

    Weather is a broad topic and we definitely didn’t cover everything in one afternoon but we learned some stuff we didn’t know and that’s kind of the goal here. Little bits of learning all add up!


    Free Weather Unit Study Resources


    I gathered all the books I had from the library on weather as well as ones we had around the house and we picked a few to look through and read.

    I created a list of weather books a couple of months ago, many of which we used for this little unit study.

    A couple more books we used that aren’t on that list are:

    Nature Anatomy

    Usborne Storms and Hurricanes

    Usborne Weather (in an edition so old I can’t even find a link for it)


    Free Weather Unit Study Resources


    The weather fact I put up on the letter board was:

    Wind doesn’t make a sound until it blows against an object.

    One of my children gets very frightened by the sound of wind and when they heard this fact they decided wind really wasn’t that scary then. #scienceforthewin


    Free Weather Unit Study Resources


    I remembered making a tornado in a bottle in elementary school and it was something I wanted to do with the kids. The one I remembered involved two large pop bottles and a piece of plastic, but honestly, the little plastic piece was $5 and I didn’t want to have to order it and wait for it to come in so we just made a mini tornado with a water bottle, water and glitter. It wasn’t as impressive but it worked.

    Here’s the one I originally wanted to make:



    Here’s what we made instead:



    We also watched a couple of educational videos about weather from some of our favorite kids science YouTube channels:






    And that’s really all there was to our mini unit study on weather!

    If we would have taken more time/had the kids shown more interest in the topic I would have printed out the Clouds Fact Cards that we have from Brave Grown Home that we got in a previous bundle, maybe we’ll do that if/when we study the topic in the future.

    If you have suggestions on other topics we should study in the future, I would love to hear them, I’m currently keeping a running list of ideas!

  • Free Owl Unit Study Resources
    nature study,  science,  unit studies

    Owl Mini Unit Study Resources

    Part of our homeschool rhythm for the year is to have a mini unit study every Monday afternoon. My main reason behind this was because there are so many different topics I want to study with my kids and many of them don’t quite fall under our plan for the year, this is my way of sneaking those topical studies in.

    This last Monday was our first mini unit study and we kicked things off with owls!


    Free Owl Unit Study Resources


    I started out by having the letter board and a few resources and books about owls out on the table in the morning. As soon as my son woke up and I told him what the letter board said he asked what other groups of animals were called so we spent a few minutes looking that up. 


    Free Owl Unit Study Resources


    Owls do not have a good sense of smell,
    because of this the great horned owl is one of the only consistent predators of skunks.


    I love that I learned just as much about owls as the kids!


    Free Owl Unit Study Resources


    We spent some time reading about owls (I’ll list the resources we used at the end of the post) and then the kids took some time to draw some owl pictures.

    My daughter drew hers off of Art for Kids Hub tutorials, this one and this one.

    My son used the Usborne Big Drawing Book for step-by-step instructions for his owls.


    Free Owl Unit Study Resources


    My plan for the unit studies is to do them Monday afternoons and if the kids are really into the topic or if we have more time we will continue learning about it in our extra time throughout the week.

    We didn’t have much extra time this week but my daughter did do one of the word searches from the Twig & Moth Nature Word Search & Coloring Pages that we got from the Elementary Bundle last week.


    Free Owl Unit Study Resources


    If we had more time I would have looked around for some good informational videos on YouTube. There are some channels that have good information that have videos on owls that would be good if you want to watch some, we may end up looking at them at a later date.

    Owls for Kids by Free School

    Owls for Kids by Homeschool Pop

    Who Knew? Amazing Owl Facts by SciShow Kids

    What are Owl Pellets? by SciShow Kids


    Free Owl Unit Study Resources


    Here’s a list of the resources that we used and are pictured in the photos above:

    Sibley Backyard Birding Flashcards

    Owls: Our Most Charming Bird – This book is cute and the drawing of owls are adorable and would be nice to try to copy off of for drawing but the information in it was a little lacking, this is one I would recommend getting out from the library instead of purchasing.

    Handbook of Nature Study

    Nature Anatomy

    Nature Journal by Kristin Rogers (the book isn’t available by itself any more from what I can tell but if you buy the Nature Journal course you get a free book – totally worth it in my opinion!)

    A Field Guide to Western Birds

    Prairie Birds – Chris C. Fisher

    The Usborne Big Step-By-Step Drawing Book

    The Usborne Big Drawing Book

    Firefly Encyclopedia of Animals

    Letter Cards – the black letter cards I bought from Amazon a couple of years ago, I really like them but don’t like that they don’t have duplicate letters so I created my own printable ones (and I reversed the colors so they are not so hard on the printer), but when you are writing words without duplicate letters the Amazon ones work great.

    Owls in the Family – we didn’t actually read this book this time but we read it last summer, if we were doing a longer owl study I would read it again with the kids

    Owl at Home – we used to own this book but I couldn’t find it when I was pulling stuff together. I would have loved to read it this week with my beginning reader but turned the house nearly upside down and still couldn’t find it.


    Our little unit study was only about an hour long and here’s what our table looked after (remember, I only have two kids!), good thing we have a big table!


    Free Owl Unit Study Resources


    We have our next few weeks of unit studies planned out but if you have ideas for what we should study in the future, I would love to hear them!

  • Rocks Relaxed Notebooking Page and Resources for Rock Unit Study
    real homeschool stories,  relaxed notebooking,  science,  unit studies

    Rocks Mini Unit Study Resources & Relaxed Notebooking

    In the last few weeks we have been doing what I’ve dubbed as “relaxed notebooking”, I share more about the concept in my Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Workshop but in essence we have been picking topics each week to do mini unit studies on. This approach works really well with our relaxed, interest-led homeschool style.

    I thought it would be fun to share some of the mini units we have been doing as well as the resources we are using.

    At the beginning of each week I ask my kids what they want to learn about that week and that helps guide our week. So far they have had a balance of Minecraft and Star Wars and weeks where what they pick what would qualify as educational topics. In the future I may pick the topics if there is one that I think we should do but so far they’ve been doing a great job with their picks.




    Rocks Relaxed Notebooking Page and Resources for Rock Unit Study


    A few weekends ago I was cleaning out one of our closets and I came across a ton of rocks my kids had collected last fall. The rocks had been up high on a shelf for about ten months so I figured they wouldn’t miss them, they hadn’t asked for them once, so I took the bowl of rocks and tossed them on my neighbors rock driveway (let’s be honest, half of them probably originated there). Then Monday morning came and I asked Raeca what she wanted to study for that week and what does she say? Rocks. 🤦

    Thankfully she didn’t remember the rocks that they had stowed away so I wasn’t in trouble. That was a close one.


    Rocks Mini Unit Study Resources Homeschool


    Ultimately I have two goals with these weekly mini unit studies:

    1. To have some physical evidence of learning for when I write up our year end reports for our school division each year. They actually don’t require much in terms of a year end report but it feels good being able to show some of the things we’ve learned about.
    2. To help my children find their interests. I am excited to homeschool high school when we can get more focused on the topics my children enjoy and hope to use in their future careers, this is an easy way we are starting to hone in on some topics of interest.

    We did take some time to do some brainstorming of subjects they think they would like to study in the future. Ephraim’s list makes me laugh because it is so him, it includes topics like: batteries, how do microwaves work, how do phones work without wires, etc. That is totally him and his inquisitive mind.

    Raeca’s list is more diverse and includes a topics like horses, pigs, airplanes, building structures, orphanages, Indonesia, Colorado, pens, spiders, wasps, Mexico and Peru.


    Rocks Relaxed Notebooking Page and Resources for Rock Unit Study


    For our rocks study we had more resources on hand than we do for some other mini units, thanks to my husband’s co-worker who gave us a box of labelled rock samples (?? not sure if this is the correct term but I’m going with it). It has examples of about 40 different rocks and says where they were found. While books and pictures are great resources I find with rocks it is really nice to have the physical examples.

    We started our our mini study by watching a few videos to give an introduction. If you like YouTube, come subscribe to my channel there, I am starting to make playlists for different topics we hope to study over time. I have a playlist on Rocks and Minerals, we started out by watching these three videos:


    Rocks Relaxed Notebooking Page and Resources for Rock Unit Study


    The videos gave us an idea on the three main types of rocks and then we pulled out our favorite science books and looked to see what they had for information on the subject.

    While the book Nature Anatomy does not go very in-depth in nature topics I appreciate the diversity and gorgeous illustrations, it is my favorite science book we own, by far, it’s always the one I pull out first.

    We have the Usborne Spotters Guide: Rocks and Minerals which I found at the thrift store a few years ago and grabbed because I assumed we’d be studying this one day. Ours is an old version but rocks don’t tend to change that much so it worked out well.

    We went for a walk and did some rock collecting and then came back and used our spotters guide to try to identify the types of rocks we found, it was great to have the guide to refer to, I’m going to keep my eye out for more spotters guides.

    I also like to pull our our letter cards and have one of the kids spell out what we are learning, we don’t do any formal spelling practice so this is a fun and relevant way to approach spelling.


    Rocks Mini Unit Study Resources Homeschool


    We also spent some time looking at the rocks with our magnifying glass, the perfect tool for any little scientist. The rock samples that we had been given had more diverse rocks than we found on our walk so Raeca decided to create her relaxed notebooking page on the Flowerstone.

    We looked online for some information on this rock since it wasn’t in any of our books and found out that it is pretty much only found on one island in British Columbia.

    Then Rae started working on her page. I have three requirements for our relaxed notebooking pages they need to have:

    1. a title
    2. a picture
    3. some information

    The amount of information I require differs for each child and each subject. Some subjects are going to have more information to share than others, plus, if it is a subject that they picked and it ends up not being too interested in I’m okay with them not doing a whole lot of writing.

    Based on how long they spend on certain pages it has been easy to see which topics they’ve picked have been the most interesting to them.

    I am really enjoying this relaxed, interest-led notebooking style, it really suits our family and the way we approach life and how we view homeschooling as a lifestyle. I’ve totally gotten in on the relaxed notebooking and have been making pages right alongside my kids and at the beginning of the week I find myself looking forward to finding out what we will be studying.

    Do you have a relaxed and/or interest-led homeschool? Where are your favorite places to find resources?
    Do you do any form of notebooking pages? I’d love to hear about it!