Welcome to The Educating Parent Beverley Paine's archive of articles about homeschooling and unschooling written over a period of 30 plus years

HomeAbout Blog Articles Curriculum Resource Directory Shop Kids Pages Facebook

Download our FREE The Educating Parent Resource Directories today! Plus... more FREE resources!

Free download a quick guide to getting started with homeschooling and unschooling by Beverley Paine The Educating Parent in this excellent Resource Directory


Download for FREE this huge collection of links to online Australian homeschool and unschool support groups in this special The Educating Parent Resource Directory by Beverley Paine

Plan, record and report all in the one document! Always Learning Books planners available in each year level to suit your homeschooling needs, includes curriculum checklists
Australia's original homeschooling manual from veteran home educator Beverley Paine, how to write your own learning plan and curriculum to meet your child's needs
Let Beverley and friends help you design and write your own curriculum to suit your child's individual learning needs, learn how to prepare lessons, unit studies and more, record and evaluate your children's learning in this series of 3 parent workbooks developed on Beverley's popular homeschool manual Getting Started with Home School Practical Considerations
Introduction to
Home Education
  National and State
Support Groups
  Yearly Planner, Diary & Report Beverley's Original Home Ed Manual Series of How To
Parent Workbooks

Support Groups: National SA VIC NSW QLD TAS ACT NT
Registration Guides: VIC NSW QLD SA WA TAS ACT NT

Looking for support, reassurance and information?
Join Beverley's The Educating Parents Homeschooling and Unschooling Facebook online group.


Thematic Units

Vanessa Whittaker, Exploring Approaches to Home Education Seminar, Adelaide 2008

What is a thematic unit?

A thematic unit is when we cover a range of curriculum areas with one topic. See an example below of a unit of work, the for which the starting point was the book, 'Brighty of the Grand Canyon' by Marguerite Henry. (I will have other plans at the seminar)

Thematic learning has been called 'project learning' or 'passion learning'. This is a definition I like because it is the children's passion or interest which makes this type of learning work for our children. It enables us to have a starting topic which our children are interested in or passionate about and they then want to find out information, so they will research and find the answers to questions and record their response.

How do you plan a unit?

The following is is what we do at home.

At the end of the year I ask the children to make a list of five topics they want to learn about and I make a list of five things. I write them up on a big piece of paper and then the children prioritise the topics and we plan for the top 10-12 for the following year. This involves the children needing to negotiate and coming to some agreement about the topics and the order.

After the topic is chosen, I sit down to with their plan and see if it works because I may know that one topic would be a good precursor to another. It is then my role as the facilitator of their learning to find the resources for them to use. Sometimes I may start with a fiction book for a literature Unit. For example, last year we began with "Brighty of the Grand Canyon" . This led us onto a study of the animals, as well as comparing donkeys with horses. The children learned of the different animals of the Grand Canyon, about the Grand Canyon, the geology of the area, the environment and the elements which impact the area. We were introduced to Theodore Roosevelt, who later became President of the USA; the children researched his life and learned how to write a biography. We then went on to study the American Indian tribes of the region, which then led us onto study other tribes throughout the USA which in turn led us to study Explorers of the Americas.

Then we make a list of questions for the children. Often we will use graphic organizers , like the KWL or KWHL chart (examples of these provided at the end of these notes) to find out what is already known on a topic and what we would like to learn about a topic; how we will learn or find out information on a topic. We use the internet as well as books. We check to see if there non-fiction books available as well as fiction at the library, and think about what excursions we can could do, if there are DVDs or relevant music we can use. At the end we add the information we learned during the time of the project.

We then decide how the project will be presented. Is it to be in an exercise book, a portfolio, a Lap-book, file folder, a scrapbook or some other format? The portfolio is one of the most common ways we work but we often use lap-books as well. The Lap-book is bright, visually stimulating and it is fun and engaging to open the mini books to read the completed information. It breaks down the topic into small manageable tasks. Each question response is a small book. If a child has difficulties with learning it may be much less intimidating for them. After all they only need to complete a mini book. But the important thing is that information is learned and a response completed.

I record our themes and create the activities with objectives in mind. I have attached an example of the record keeping I complete for the themes we complete. This is the example from the 'Grand Canyon Unit' our children completed last year.

Unit Topic: The Grand Canyon

Purpose: To read the novel, 'Brighty, of the Grand Canyon', as the beginning of a unit to learn about the Grand Canyon .


  • Children will read the books about the Grand Canyon and watch the DVD's to gain information about the Grand Canyon .
  • Children will then use the information found to complete various activities from the BLM, 'Geology' by Kathee Gosnell, part 4. A unit from Teacher Created Resources
  • Children will read through the activity sheets downloaded from " Grand Canyon National Park " education website and complete the activities they can. (some may be returned to at a later date)
  • Children will complete the craft activities relating to animals which are found in and around the Grand Canyon from 'More crafty Rhymes and Activities', by Helen Fletcher.
  • Children will colour in their copy of 'The Grand Canyon National Park Coloring Book', to learn about the people, flora and fauna of the area.
  • Children will learn how to write a biography and then practice by searching for information about Theodore Roosevelt who became President of the USA , and completing the graphic organizer.


  • "Geology", by Kathee Gosnell, Teacher Created Resources, ISBN:978-1-55734-240-9, section 4: 'Brighty of the Grand Canyon' by Marguerite Henry, Scholastic 1967.
  • Novel, 'Brighty of the Grand Canyon' by Marguerite Henry, Aladdin Fiction, © renewed 1981.
  • DVD, 'Brighty of the Grand Canyon' with bonus features ©2003 Stephen Booth Productions + the activity sheet downloads from the CD-rom aspect on the DVD.
  • DVD, 'Rainbow of Stone: A Journey Through Deep Time in the Grand Canyon'.
  • DVD, 'The Grand Canyon Collection'. © 2004, Grand Canyon Association.
  • The Grand Canyon Newspaper, 'A Quick Look' © 2001 Grand Canyon Association.
  • Grand Canyon Stacking Blocks, © 2005, Grand Canyon Association.
  • The Grand Canyon National Park Coloring Book, © 1989, Earth Walk Press.
  • 'An Introduction to the Grand Canyon' by L. Greer price, © 1999, Grand Canyon Association. ISBN 0-938216-68-6.
  • 'Exploring the Grand Canyon' © Lynne Foster, Paperback edition 2005, ISBN 0-938216-33-3.
  • A Kaleidoscope Kids Book, "Geology Rocks' © Cindy Blobaum, 1999. ISBN 1-885593-29-5.
  • 'More Crafty Rhymes & Activities' © Helen Fletcher, 7 th printing 2000 by Holding Educational Aids, ISBN 0949207-16-0.

Web Downloads:

Research - The Grand Canyon

(using 'A Quick Look' information newspaper, © 2001, Grand Canyon Association)

[format the following questions on a page with spaces for the child to write his or her answers.]

  • How many square miles does the Grand Canyon protect?
  • Can you do the math calculation to find out how many square kilometres this equal?
  • What are the names of the three bordering American Indian Tribes?
  • What is the Grand Canyon's deepest point from the rim to the river?
  • How many people visit the Grand Canyon each year?
    Why is the North Rim closed from late October to mid May each year?
  • How old are the oldest rocks found at Grand Canyon ?
  • Are these the oldest rocks in the world?
  • What was John Wesley Powell the first person to do at the Grand Canyon ?
  • How long has the Grand Canyon been protected as a National Park?
  • What geological processes have contributed to the formation of the Grand Canyon ?
  • How many species of birds live in Grand Canyon's different habitats?
  • What is the oldest evidence of humans in the Grand Canyon ?
  • Who did Marguerite Henry write about it in her book?
  • How many acres of land does the National Park Service administer? Who owns this land?
  • What are some of the most important environmental issues which concern the Grand Canyon National Park managers?
  • When is it a good time to visit the Grand Canyon ?

Graphic Organisers

Topic/Lap book Planner: (reproduce and reformat to fit A4 page)


Activity list












(physics, earth sciences, biology, chemistry)



Society &


(history, geography & social sciences)




Art, Design, Technology, Health,




Record answers in the columns to help you plan your unit study.

What we

What we
WANT to know

HOW we
will learn

we have learned







Organise information using these headings.

Topic: ___________________________________________

Record Information required

What do you already know?



What do you want to learn?


Identify the resources that will help you resource your topic.

[not just books]

Gather the relevant information by using headings & taking notes.

[may be useful to create a mind map on a separate sheet of paper]

Sort your notes by planning first draft, then check & edit for final presentation.


How will you present the information for this unit/topic?

[lapbook, mini-book, folds, pictures, writing]

Evaluate the completed unit/topic.
How is it possible to improve the next unit/topic?

Liked -

What was okay? -

What you didn't like -

Can improve by -


Was this article helpful? Was it worth $1.00 to you? Your gift of $1 or more helps to keep this site operating offering encouragement and reassurance to families wanting better outcomes for their children.

Thank you for your gift contribution!

Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

"You've been an inspiration to me, I love the way
you really listen to people."

"Whenever I read your writing I always come away
with increased confidence in my ability to provide and
share a wonderful learning journey with my family!"

"Your guidance, understanding, support and words of
wisdom changed our lives. We now offer support and
organise many homeschooling events for others."

"Thank you once again for your prompt and friendly service.
I am convinced that your books are going to add
quality and peace of mind to my journey of teaching my kids
at home! Just from studying your website, until almost
2am in the morning, I 've been encouraged!"

"Thank you for all your many,many reassuring words
over many, many years. You probably don't know exactly how
valuable you are to the Australian Home Education community.
I've been reading your stuff for maybe 8 years or more now.
And I'm very grateful."

Want to learn how to write your own education plans to suit
your unique children's individual learning needs?

Looking for quality curriculum and teaching tips ?

Over 1000 reassuring and informative articles to help
build your confidence as an Educating Parent

Welcome to the World of Home Education
and Learning without School!

It's been and gone but you don't have to miss out! Purchase the full set of recordings of the 2022 Australian Homeschool Summit, expert help from experienced Australian home educators, all you need to get your started and continuing on your homeschooling or unschooling adventure with your children! Over 30 workshops, downloads and more.

We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine


Getting Started with
Home Educating Series of


#1 Create Your
Own Curriculum

#2 DIY Lesson Plans
& Unit Studies

#3 Recording and Evaluation Made Simple

$10.00 each (includes postage)

let experienced home educators Beverley, Tamara and April walk you through HOW to create a learning plan that builds on solid foundations that works for YOUR family AND ticks all the boxes for home educaton registration with part 1 of this getting started with home educating serioes of parent workbooks, Create Your Own Curriculum!
Let experienced home educators Beverley, Tamara and April walk you through HOW to create a learning plan that builds on solid foundations that works for YOUR family AND ticks all the boxes for home educaton registration!

To see the full range of Beverley Paine's books on homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning visit Always Learning Books

Tap into Beverley's experience through her books

"Your books, your blogs helped me beyond words...
they helped me to find comfort in knowing it is ok to choose
exactly what is best for my family." Nisha

"Your books and information are mind blowing and already
I am feeling good about this new experience." Diane

Connect with Beverley and ask questions
through her online The Educating Parents Homeschooling and Unschooling Facebook support group.

purchase Beverley's practical and common sense books on homeschooling and unschooling
"Your guidance, understanding, support & words of wisdom changed our lives." Leslie

"I feel specially inspired by Beverley's words and, the more I read her comments, the more inspired I feel, since my need for support, respect for different parenting styles, and information are fully met." Marijo

The information on this website is of a general nature only and is not intended as personal or professional advice. This site merges and incorporates 'Homeschool Australia' and 'Unschool Australia'.

The Educating Parent acknowledges the Traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Owners, the Custodians of Australia, and pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people viewing this website.

complete comprehensive step by step program that teaches you how to craft your ultimate homeschool

Australia's best home education consultant, let Tamara Kidd guide and help you prepare your home education registration application or review

Online science lessons for primary school aged home educating children

Teach Maths in the way that children learn with MathsUSee by MathsAustralia

30% discount for purchases from ReadyEd Publications when you use the code 'homeschool' at  the checkout

reset your mindset for homeschooling success with deschooling essentials a quick course to help build your confidence as an educating parent

200 pages of templates, planning pages, tables, prompts and record sheets to organise your whole year!

subscription video art lessons by Australian artist

Home education is a legal alternative
to school education in Australia.
State and Territory governments are responsible
for regulating home education and have different
requirements, however home educating families
are able to develop curriculum and learning programs
to suit the individual needs of their children.

animated Australian flag

Without revenue from advertising
by educational suppliers and Google Ads
we could not continue to provide information
to home educators. Please support us by letting
our advertisers know that you found them on
The Educating Parent. Thanks!

Beverley's books are excellent for building confidence as a home educator says Tracey, homeschooling mum.

Support Centre
Contact Us | Join a Support Group | Beverley's Books | Resource Directory | Blog | Donate

About The Educating Parent
Beverley Paine | April Jermey and Always Learning Books | Advertise with us


What is Home Education Why Home Educate Getting Started & Registering Different Ways to Home Educate
Life as a Home Educator Resources & Support Teens and Beyond Curriculum and Teaching Tips
Unschooling & Natural Learning Travelling & Home Educating Other: just for fun, general, etc Children's Pages

animated smiling face Thank you for visiting!

Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
The opinions and articles included on this website are not necessarily those of Beverley and Robin Paine,
nor do they endorse or recommend products listed in contributed articles, pages, or advertisements.
This website uses browsing cookies and conducts other means to collect user information in order to display contextual ads.
Text and images on this site © All Rights Reserved 1999-2022.