Anyway, while searching online, I found Chicken Spaghetti's list of dragon books and resource ideas (including Theresa and Superboy's Dragon Notebook)
I am in planning mode, you see; it won't last forever, but it's fun while it lasts. But I like to have more ideas than I can actually use.
I've (finally)found a way to deal with unit studies that works for me and my family. My husband, kids and I all tend to have a few interests going on at the same time -- moving from one to another. We don't usually focus on just ONE. What is more, we usually tend to be focusing on a couple of skills or methods at the same time. For example, I just read three modern fiction books in three days. But before that, the last fiction book I read was two or three months ago. Also -- we like to follow a "golden thread" through an interest, rather than plan it out all ahead of time.
But while I feel a bit claustrophobic if I follow a unit exactly or just follow one unit at a time, the rich treasurehouse of unit study plans that are out there CAN provide a sourcebook of possible ideas and activities and booklists, and so that is what I've been getting out of unit studies recently. Lightbulb moment! (As my 11 year old said dryly about his 4 year sibling, "He should dress up as Captain Obvious for Halloween." Well, me too. Sometimes it takes me a long time to get to an idea that everyone else has figured out immediately)
So with units---- I find that if I have a few thought out a bit, and we move from one to another during a given time frame, it works better than just focusing on one at a time. This is how we worked with Giotto/Shakespeare last term. We never did get to the architecture (but there's still 2/3 of a year left..).
For me, it also works well if I have a theme. Not just a topic but something to think about with regard to the topic. This is difficult to explain, though I tried a bit in my post about Literature Themes. It seems to help me keep on track -- this year, the theme is about exploration and discovery -- there is a wide field, indeed! but when I am planning and sorting, I am looking for ideas to do with exploration and broadening horizons. And so that is somewhat the method I am using too -- trying to explore, and keep lots of options so there is an abundant choice.
One more thing that works for me -- tacking unit studies onto Everything Else, not vice versa. I know that I read a lot of unit study books and articles that say that units should incorporate Everything Else. But for me, units become painful if they are academic vehicles. For me, they work better as occasions of delight, that we can feel good about doing for variety or enrichment or family closeness, but drop without hesitation if they are not going anywhere. In this regard, I like the way Andrew Campbell explains Non Multa sed Multum :
Does this mean that students will go through thirteen years of schooling never cracking an English novel? Are we denying our children the pleasure of floating down the river with Rat and Mole, bursting with excitement when Almanzo wins first prize for his milk fed pumpkin, or pushing past a row of old coats to step into the Narnian winter? Of course not. What it does mean is that we apply the principle of multum non multa in selecting schoolbooks. The streamlined classical curriculum leaves plenty of time for other pursuits, including reading for pleasure and discovery. It is in these hours that students can sail the seas to Treasure Island, sit in the drawing rooms of Austen and Trollope, thrill to the daring escapades of the Scarlet Pimpernel, march with the Roman legions in Eagle of the Ninth, circle the globe with Phileas Fogg, or experience the angst of modern dystopias in 1984 and Brave New World.
To say it briefly, my family and I have decided that if we are going to float down the river with Rat and Mole, we want to ...float. Not necessarily study vocabulary words, or estimate how many miles they floated, or research the water habits of rats and moles (though I could see how any of these COULD become a delight-directed project; I'm talking here about artificially dragging in all the cross-curricular connections just so the unit can be a comprehensive academic experience).
With the dragons, I have in mind to strew the books and see which ones he would like to do, and I bought a Sculpey model kit with a dragon and knights that I expect this particular 11 year old will delight in. But there is a point, difficult to define precisely (since some kids might hate sculpey kits while others might enjoy writing a dragon story using their vocabulary words or something that my kids would hate) where it would not be just "floating" but be a confusion between utilitarian and liberal.
In that way, I feel very much as Charlotte Mason did (summarized by the DHM at the Common Room in a Charlotte Mason Tutorial; the words are the DHM's)
And if I might insert a suggestion- excepting the historical connections, do not try too hard to otherwise correlate the books one with another in a unit study approach. Charlotte Mason really isn't a unit study. In fact, she didn't care for them much. She thought that children should have a _wide_ variety of material to stir their interest and keep it sharp. She felt that too much of a muchness would sort of dull their interest. If everything they study for weeks at a time is all about apples or Robinson Crusoe (two hilarious examples CM used), they rather quickly tire of it.
The idea with a CM education is that the parent/teacher spreads the banquet, and then does less so that the student can do more- the student discovers and builds her own connections with the material. This is lovely to see.