Last year we followed our noses somewhat while doing unit studies (before setting up a unit study, I sat down with Max and asked him what he wanted to learn about.) Even though the main topic was one of interest, like whales and dolphins, we still incorporated many of the other subjects like math, science, geography, writing, etc. It was an all-out look at a topic, which of course, is the basis of a unit study. I think Max learned well under these criteria and rather enjoyed himself. I liked it a whole lot, too, although it took a fair amount of set-up and planning on my part. Unit studies are kind of like that, aren't they? You can find many of the unit studies we did last year on this blog - just click on the unit studies category over there on the left.
If you sit back and watch your children on the sly, you will notice that they sometimes show a preference for a particular subject. If you can manage to get yourself out of the way, your child will happily figure out ways to surround him or herself with information about that subject. This all starts quite young, doesn't it? The Spiderman phase. Thomas the Tank Engine. Dora the Explorer? Teen Titans. All of these were derived from the TV. Children without access to the TV (living the best life ever!) might show an interest in caterpillars, constellations, birds of prey, endangered animals, or nifty ways to disassemble your microwave. Still, the best life ever. It's that natural curiosity which is such a beautiful and endangered thing - our public school systems somehow seem to squash that natural way of learning for children. Homeschooling has some sneaky advantages, and this is one of them; you can unleash the curiosity monster in your child, calmly step out of the way and let the happy learning happen!
Currclick has some newer offerings called 'Preference Projects' which may or may not fit the bill for you and your child. My interest was piqued by them, so on the blog they must go:
Bugs......can't say favorite would land in the same sentence for me.
There are a few others on horses, constellations, numbers, etc. Note that these are fairly structured. Having flown precariously by the seat of my pants last year for our fourth grade adventure, I'm beginning to understand the grandeur of structure and ordered things, although I still think it's important to inject lots of fun and alternative ways of learning in there - strike a nice balance. You could easily supplement one of these preference projects with other materials and put a fun spin on it. Of course, that would involve YOU getting involved, and maybe that's not the point here. This is kind of about letting a child follow a trail of interest. You'd have to use your very best judgement :).
I like Currclick for the most part. The name stands for 'Curriculum in a Click'. I am a secular homeschooler, so some of their materials don't jive with my worldview, but that's something I can easily work around. Visit their site if you haven't already - all of their materials are available for immediate download in .pdf format (printer cartridges at the ready!) The materials are incredibly well-priced and they run awesome sales, so watch for them. Get on their email newsletter list and you'd be all set.