Homeschool Unit Studies

The Learning Tree

A Model For Homeschool Unit Studies

Maximize your students' success with the Learning Tree model for homeschool unit studies.

Learning Tree Model

Types of Unit Studies
With this model, we visualize the different parts of the learning process as a part of a tree. Your tree can be on a single sheet of paper or cover a door or wall of your house. Students share in the planning and executing of their unit.

The Trunk

Unit Study Topic

The trunk is the topic of your homeschool unit studies.

Your topic might be "birds", or "Ancient Egypt," "soccer," or "presidential elections."



The roots are your resources. You can think of it as a living bibliography. Of course it will include all books you read.

It may include internet sites, educational games, field trips, magazine articles, experiments and a host of other activities from which your students learn.


Knowledge and Objectives

The branches are the main areas of content to be learned. Let's use a unit study on "birds" as an example. The branches might be:

The content has measurable objectives. There are specific things the student will able to do at the end of the unit. They may start their unit studies knowing what they need to learn.

Of course, sometimes we discover more branches of knowledge as we pursue a unit. That's one of the great parts of unit studies - the fascination of discovery.


Student Accomplishments

The fruit is the outcome your student produces in the course of completing their unit. It should have a creative aspect to it.

For the study of birds, the student completed the following:
Some of these outcomes are directly related to the objectives. Some are opportunities students discover and pursue during the course of their unit study.


Learning Activities

Students can earn points for the different activities they do. Ten points can be earned for an hour of work. You can also give one point for every page they read.

Students can be required to do a minimum number of points for each unit study. We recommend 100 points. As the students get older, the requirements may become more detailed.

Here is an example which we use: There is never a maximum number of points a student can earn.

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Instructions and Templates for Small & Medium Trees
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Displaying Your Learning Tree

Learning Tree Top Branches How can your Learning Tree be displayed?

Learning Tree Top Branches

How the Learning Tree Developed

Unit studies promote the type of self-learning that is at the heart of the homeschool movement. Even though I am an advocate of unit studies, I often had frustrations when we used them in the early years. Challenges included:

Little by little over the years, this model took shape. I learned from others and adapted different models.

Why Do We Use a Tree?

Originally I had a more "mechanical" model with "input" and "output." Even if it sounds a bit too mechanical, stick with it for a minute.


Some of learning activities are "input." These are activities and resources that allow students to learn new information.


Other learning activities are "outputs" which demonstrated the student's acquired skills, knowledge, and analysis.

Obviously, all learning entails input and output. This model assisted students to recognize that they needed to balance the different types of learning activities, and do a minimum number of both.

But kids aren't robots. Learning is more dynamic. Sure, reading is an input and writing a paper is an output. But what is a field trip that produces a picture book?

We needed a less technical and more dynamic model that changed as they changed.

Thus the model of a tree which grows and changes developed.

Learn For Your Life Homeschool Owl

Get The Learning Tree Template

Learning Tree Template Cover Learning Tree Instructions Learning Tree Instructions
Instructions and Templates for Small & Medium Trees
$1.99 Download - 7 pages
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The Learning Tree Model In Action

MatchCard Science Covers

The MatchCard Science Unit Studies grew out of the Learning Tree model. The twelve main categories of science can be considered twelve trees. (Chemistry, astronomy, zoology, etc.) Each branch of science has its own unit study.

Each objective for the twelve units is like the branches of knowledge. The students engage in a wide variety of hands-on activities to learn about the topic. Along with reading three printed resources, these activities are the root of the study.

The MatchCards provide the branches and demonstrate that the students know the content.

And what is the fruit of their labor? Students complete a project, put together lapbook or unit study booklet, complete a science fair project, or develop their own method of demonstrating their accomplishments.

Ready To Use Resources

Literature Unit Study Box Literature Unit Study Box Literature Unit Study Box
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