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K-8 Classroom | August 2, 2016

5 Fun and Free Unit Studies for Elementary Grades

Written By: Brandi Jordan
X 5 Fun and Free Unit Studies for Elementary Grades

5 Fun and Free Unit Studies for Elementary Grades

When it comes to teaching, the old adage about one size not fitting all is true, but in a “one style of learning does not meet the needs of all” sort of way.  Figuring out how to get around the workbooks and 3” thick teacher’s manuals can be extremely tricky.  If you have the freedom to determine how material is presented in your classroom, you might want to consider doing a unit study. Not only do good unit studies work to address many different learning styles, but they also make learning a subject a lot more fun.  If you are worried about how you will incorporate all of the things that have to be covered during the course of the year, do not worry.  There are unit studies that can be used to touch on everything from classic literature to punctuation and spelling.  The five unit studies below are really good resources for teachers that come with an even better price tag – free!

Fun Elementary Unit Studies

Tonight on the Titanic

When the R.M.S. Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40pm on April 14, 1912 and sank just two and a half hours later, it became one of the most famous tragedies in maritime history.  In her Magic Tree House series, Mary Pope Osborne takes readers aboard the ill-fated ship just as the call of “Iceberg ahead!” rings from the lookout.  The events of that night, as well as the details leading up to the ship’s sinking are intriguing to old and young alike.  This unit study gives teachers a chance to address the event while also allowing for writing practice, vocabulary development, and more.

Lewis and Clark Expedition

Famous explorers and their trials as they journey to new areas are always of interest to students.  Introduce this unit by dressing up as Lewis or Clark and talking to students about what they will be learning.  Start a large K-W-L chart that can help guide you as you begin instruction.   This study focuses language arts, math, science, geography, and has a strong focus on Native American life and customs.

End of the School Year

It may be a toss up as to who is more excited about starting a unit on the end of the school year – the teacher or the students!  This fun unit study encourages creative writing, recall, and expression through art.  While the pages listed at the bottom of the site are for members only, there are many free resources above them.

Fire Safety

Not only is it important to teach your students about fire safety, but in many states, it is also a curriculum requirement.  This unit study is filled with great ideas and answers to questions your students may have.  Be sure to supplement it with your favorite fire safety books for a well-rounded unit study.

Exploring the Moon

Have you ever discovered a website that is so full of good resources for teachers that you want everyone to know about it?  Well, NASA’s Educator’s section is one of those sites.  Not only can you narrow down the lesson plans by subject and grade, you can also download amazing material for unit studies.  The Exploring the Moon unit is one of those fabulous free resources that you will love teaching and your students will love learning about.


Do you have a favorite unit study that you enjoy teaching every year?  Share with us below or on the Really Good Teachers Forums!


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  • Nichole R
    April 13, 2011

    My goal is to one day squeeze in a unit of study on the Titanic-I remember being fascinated when I was a child when I learned of the unsinkable ship..and when I see some of my students pick up the books we have on the topic-they too are fascinated. I will save this unit-and hopefully (one day soon!) be able to teach it! Thanks so much!

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    Brandi Jordan
    April 13, 2011

    I’m doing a Titanic unit study now with my kids and they LOVE it! It has definitely been the most fascinating unit we’ve done and has held their attention consistently throughout. I highly recommend it!!

  • Kris
    April 16, 2011

    I really like all five of these great ideas! Definitely will be storing away this info for later!

  • Casey
    April 16, 2011

    I LOVE the Lewis and Clark unit. I will have to do it!!

  • Leigh Twigg
    April 17, 2011

    I’ve never thought of doing an end of the school year unit. I love the idea (especially for the last week of school when things get CRAZY). I can’t wait to share the idea with my co-workers. 🙂

  • Sabrina
    June 8, 2011

    Thanks for the NASA website link! You’re right– it’s full of great resources!

  • Lisa Duffin
    June 20, 2011

    Unit study is amazing for students making connections and really learning to work cooperatively. You can so so much for all grade levels.

    NASA has AMAZING resources, they are very helpful and will send you materials as well, for exmaple they’ll send you videos of launches and such. All you have to do is ask. I visited NASA with my family a couple of years ago and they have a “teacher” room where they talk with you and I left with a bag full of goodies.

  • Amy Gosla
    August 1, 2011

    These five unit studies are great. Thanks! I would like to try the unit study on the Titanic. My third graders have always been fascinated to learn about that sad, historical event.

  • Michelle Ramey
    March 11, 2012

    I would love that Titanic one, my students are fascinated by it. I have 5 boys who rush to check out any books in the library on the Titanic. Thank you!

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