I am planning unit study based on Little Women for our homeschool curriculum next year. I absolutely love planning and putting things like this together, but I must admit, it does get tedious! I am planning 144 days of lessons. That’s 36 weeks, and we’ll do lessons 4 days each week, saving the fifth day each week for the co-op we’re joining.
Sometime in middle school, I let my girls pick a subject for a year of study and we do a unit study before we have to buckle down and start the harder stuff of High School 🙂
My oldest picked World War II when she was in 8th grade. I told my youngest years ago that she would be able to pick an area to study when she was older. She could choose from a time period, a country, a person, an event, a book, a subject, anything really that she was interested in. Before I could even finish giving her options, she said Little Women!
Last year, and again this year, I confirmed that she still wanted to do Little Women and she has never wavered. To go along with our Little Women unit, it made the most sense to study the Civil War. We’ll also be reading some classics that are mentioned or referenced in the book.
If you would be interested in a more specific plan, let me know and I’ll work on getting a shareable document together for you. Until then, here are some resources for any Little Women lover. Whether you’re doing an entire year or not, you can use some of these resources for a fun unit on this classic book. You could just read the book and do some fun activities. It would make a lovely Christmas unit, or Summer Adventure Box as well.
Little Women Unit Study
Choices for the Book:
Little Women: An Annotated Edition This is pictured above, the huge tan copy of Little Women. I am using this annotated version of Little Women. At $26, it’s a little on the pricey side, but I highly recommend it if you want to do a serious study. The notes alone have been invaluable in planning this unit. The illustrations are gorgeous, and there’s photos from Louisa May Alcott’s life and home, as well as stills from the movies based on the book.
Little Women (Great Illustrated Classics) If your kids are younger, you might want to start with an abridged version, like I did when my Soleil was younger. This is the book that made her fall in love with Little Women.
Little Women (Puffin in Bloom) This beautiful copy of the book is a nice choice if you’re not looking for the annotated version and want a pretty copy for your shelves.
Another annotated version is coming out in November, and I will probably have to read that one, too. If you are as obsessed as I am, you can pre-order it here: The Annotated Little Women (If I count it as school, I can justify buying it, right?)
Books to Go Along With Little Women
Little Women Book: Games, Recipes, Crafts, and Other Homemade Pleasures This is only available used, but you can get it for $4 shipped! It has ideas for crafts, games, and a few recipes based on stories in Little Women. It is beautifully illustrated and just a really pretty book. I’ve planned several of the projects to go along with the corresponding chapters in the book.
The Louisa May Alcott Cookbook This little cookbook has recipes from both Little Women and Little Men. With short excerpts from the book and cute black and white illustrations, it is fun just to read, let alone start cooking. We’re excited to make bonbons and plum pudding next year!
DK Classics: Little Women This is a very abridged version of Little Women, with lots of colorful illustrations and some background information. If you have the main text, you don’t really need this book, but it is a fun add-on for anyone that’s really into this story.
Grammar, Writing, and Spelling for a Little Women Unit
Simply Grammar: An Illustrated Primer This gentle, Charlotte Mason based, grammar book is the perfect accompaniment to Little Women. The old fashioned illustrations bring to mind scenes from Little Women and the simple exercises are good practice for a light year of school. Grammar is repeated, year after year, so I don’t mind doing a somewhat simple year of grammar for this unit. It says it is good for grades 4-8 and you can take two years to work through it.
Writing Aids I first got this book when we were doing Tapestry of Grace, and I have used it often as a stand-alone writing curriculum. For our Little Women Unit, we will be doing: A report, a newsletter, a speech, a book report, and writing a play. All assignments are inspired by our reading. Writing Aids provides detailed instructions on how to teach these assignments and breaks them down into doable chunks.
Spelling Power We have always used Spelling Power, and we’ll continue on with it this year. I have one natural speller and one not natural speller, and they have both excelled with this program. I love that they only study words they don’t know how to spell, and it only takes 10-15 minutes a day. It is on the pricey side, but keep in mind that you can use it from grades 3-12. We didn’t do formal spelling until third grade, using copy work and dictation in the early grades to teach spelling. Speaking of copywork, we’re still doing it!
Copywork and Dictation. Copywork and dictation is another way to study grammar and spelling. I am putting together my own copy work pages, using this free software. It is a little annoying with all of the ads on site, but it’s a small price to pay for creating free pages! I am pulling our copywork quotes from three places:
George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior My daughter actually asked to go over this book next year. My older daughter taught from it when she was working as a living historian and teaching Colonial Etiquette to fifth graders, so Soleil has always been interested in it.
Little Women This links to another adorable copy of LW. The photo above is a 1947 edition I found at a used bookstore years ago. I’m pulling beautiful quotes right from the pages of Little Women for some copy work.
Scripture. We’ve always incorporated Scripture into our copy work 🙂
History to Go With Little Women
We are focusing on The Civil War as we read Little Women, and we’re also studying Abraham Lincoln and Louisa May Alcott.
Abraham Lincoln’s World, Expanded Edition This fabulous book is our main history text. She will read about 10 pages a week on her own and tell me, or narrate, what she’s read. We’ll also be keeping a Timeline and maps, and going off on rabbit trails to study any topics that come up that spark her interest.
Louisa May Alcott (Childhood of Famous Americans) This is a children’s biography that Soleil will read on her own.
Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women I am reading this on my own, just to have a better understanding when I teach Soleil. I will no doubt be sharing some sections with her, too. This is totally not necessary, but I love to read so it is a bonus for me.
Read Aloud History: We’ll be reading the following books together for some more history.
The Split History of the Civil War: A Perspectives Flip Book This is an easy read, and covers both perspectives of the war.
The Civil War: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose: History) We have read a few of these “Choose your own adventure” books, and we love them. The reader chooses which way to go at the end of a passage, and is directed to different pages with different outcomes, depending on their choices. Another quick, fun read.
The Civil War: A Film By Ken Burns For one week, instead of Reading Aloud, we’ll watch this nine episode documentary on Amazon Prime, free as of right now.
Louisa May’s Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women This is a picture book for younger children, and we’ll read this aloud for fun. It highlights Louisa’s time as a nurse in the war, and how her experiences influenced Little Women.
Soleil will be doing Sonlight’s American History in 10th grade, and she will cover the Civil War in depth at that time, so I am taking it somewhat easy this year and doing a broad, rather shallow study, to get her familiar with all of the basic details.
Literature to Go With Little Women
Little Women: A Guide for Teachers and Students. We’ll be using this book for vocabulary and reading comprehension questions, though I will most likely not use the reading comp, but narration instead. It also has some Bible discussion questions. Note: Do NOT try to buy this on Amazon, it’s currently prices at $999. Craziness! It’s only $6 at Christian Book.
Some of these books I chose because they are based in the time period, and others are because they are referenced in Little Women. Again, we’re at the middle school age, so we are doing the younger versions of some books, with the idea that she’ll be reading the full texts in High School. This also allows us to read more this year and get exposed to more writers and ideas.
Some of these she’ll read on her own, the majority are read alouds.
Pilgrim’s Progress If you only read one book to go along with Little Women, it must be Pilgrim’s Progress! It is referenced throughout the book, over and over again. If you don’t want to go through the full text, this is a nice abridged version. Or, you can do what we’re going to do and listen to these CD’s for read aloud.
Civil War Fiction:
Across Five Aprils
Uncle Tom’s Cabin I cannot remember how graphic this is, so I am going to read it first and if it’s not too graphic for my highly sensitive girl, then we’ll read it together.
Books Referenced in Little Women: This is by no means a comprehensive list. I had to pick and choose which ones we’d cover this year, because there are so many great works referenced!
We’ll be reading Sinbad the Sailor, from The Thousand and One Nights, Vol. I. Commonly Called the Arabian Nights’ EntertainmentsFree on Kindle!
The Classic Treasury of Aesop’s Fables Many of Aesop’s fables are mentioned or referenced in dialogue.
The Wanderings of Odysseus: The Story of the Odyssey This is the middle grade version of The Odyssey.
David Copperfield (Puffin Classics) One of many Dickens works referenced in LW. I chose this one since Virgina Woolf said it was her favorite 🙂 We’re reading the abridged book since the full version is 1,024 pages long. With so many good choices this year, I didn’t want to take months to read one book.
The Children’s Shakespeare Many Shakespeare plays are referenced in LW, so we’re going to read through these abridged versions. She’ll be covering the full plays in High School, in depth, so this is a nice introduction. We’ve read this through a few times and it’s always a favorite.
D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths This is a nice sampling of some of the Greek myths mentioned in Little Women.
Louisa May Alcott’s Christmas Treasury We’ll be reading this in December.
Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo’s Boys We’ll be reading this next summer, after we finish our Little Women unit.
Jo’s Boys And this comes after Little Men 🙂
Poetry. There are several poems referenced in Little Women. This is where my annotated version has come in handy. Often, Alcott quotes a line of poetry within dialogue and I would have had no idea it was even from a poem. I’ve tracked down all the poems and printed the shorter ones to read, and noted where the longer ones were available online to read. We will read them as they are mentioned in LW.
Science to Go with Little Women
We are using Exploring Creation with General Science since my girl will be in seventh grade next year.
In addition to that science curriculum, we’ll be doing some nature study, mostly with flowers. Little Women mentions several flowers, so we’re going to study about 25 of them. She’ll make a book of flowers and draw or color the flower and find out what the flower means in the language of flowers. Hopefully, we can find many of them in nature and even plant some.
We’re using these coloring books to get started:
Redouté Flowers Coloring Book (Dover Nature Coloring Book)
Bible to Go With Little Women
There are some Bible-based questions in the guide we’ll be using with Little Women, but for regular Bible study we will continue in Apologia’s Worldview Series. I chose Who Is My Neighbor? (And Why Does He Need Me?) — Biblical Worldview of Servanthood because it is about loving your neighbor, which goes well with the values demonstrated in LW. We’ve done one other book in this Worldview Series (Book One) and we love it.
Soleil also does Bible reading in her own quiet time each day, and we work on a Bible study that we do on our own time and discuss once a week over tea. Then, we have our morning devotions together over breakfast each day.
Everyday Graces: A Child’s Book of Good Manners Reading through Little Women is such a good time to study etiquette. In addition to the George Washington Book I mentioned above, we’ll be reading selections from Everyday Graces. I love this book! It uses excerpts from Literature to teach manners and etiquette. We’ll read a selection and practice what is taught, if applicable.
Art to Go With Little Women
Little Women references several artists, so we’ll be doing a simple picture study as these are mentioned.
Little Women Paper Dolls These paper dolls are fun! The illustrations by Tom Tierny are wonderfully detailed. Oftentimes, my daughter will play with the dolls as I am reading to her, though she seems to be growing out of that a bit. We’ll be studying fashions of the time, so these will be helpful for that, too.
We are adding Math, (we use Teaching Textbooks) and PE (we’re training for a 5k, and Soleil does dance.) We’ll also do some composer studies and art and homemaking.
We’re wrapping up the year with a Little Women Tea time (using the Little Women Project Book and Cookbook) and we’ll watch at least one version of the movie.
Online Resources for Little Women
Throughout the year, we’ll be checking out some of these websites as well.
The Alcott Film. This is the site for the movie that was made that is based on the biography I mentioned above that I’m reading. I really want to buy the DVD, hopefully my budget will allow for it, because I haven’t found it streaming anywhere. The website is full of information on Lousia May Alcott and her life. Check it out!
Here is a list of quotes from the book, with page numbers listed.
A list of vocabulary words from Chapters 1-11, and links on the page to vocab for the rest of the book.
The Orchard House Museum. Even though we live nowhere near The Orchard House, I can still dream about visiting one day. This website has some information and a cute store you can order things from. I love their idea of a Little Women birthday party! They also have a blog you can read.
A new Little Women movie? This article says it might be happening!
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Do you love Little Women as much as we do? Which movie version is your favorite?