If you haven't realized it by this point in reading A Mom's Quest to Teach, most of our family loves to read. So I was excited to review the LitWits Kits produced by LitWits. When you first visit the LitWits website, you are met with the following:
"Make great books real! Because kids who read great books become great grown-ups."
According to the site, the Kits offer "fun, creative ways to engage kids with wonderful books!" These ideas fit right into our homeschooling philosophy. One of our main goals is to develop and foster the love of reading in our children. We have struggled over the years with fostering this idea in our older son, but so far both our younger children have caught the love of reading for us.
Using the LitWits Kits has helped us spend time discussing The Hobbit with our teen who is reading the classic novel by J.R.R. Tolkien this homeschool year. And I have also looked through two other kits to help introduce Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to our younger children.
For the review, we were offered the opportunity to select up to four LitWits Kits from their collection of 46 kits. We chose the following three to use and review:
- LitWits Kits for Jules Vernes' Journey to the Center of the Earth
- LitWits Kits for J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit
- LitWits Kits for L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful World of Oz
If you are interested in seeing just what a LitWits Kit looks like, they offer a sample kit so you can see the 9 main components of the kits. Personally, I love that they provide so much information on their site so you can see what the products are all about before you make a purchase.
The LitWits Kits are based upon the interactive, immersive literature workshops that the founders, Becky and Jenny, have been holding since 2010. Children who participate in the workshops have a particular classic book and they spend the workshop time doing what the characters in the book did and connecting them to teaching experiences.
In order to help parents and homeschoolers, the LitWits Kits are a private webpage for each book that provides you with the ideas used in the workshop along with learning links and audiovisual links. Having a variety of links in one place makes it so much easier than having to create your own unit study or searching out links yourself in the middle of a lesson.
|Part of the Learning Links available for The Wonderful World of Oz LitWits Kit|
I did find because the Kits are based upon workshops for more than one child, some of the activities are a bit difficult for me to adapt to using with just our teen or with just our two younger children. For example, in The Hobbit Kit, one of the activities is called Whose Shoes? which first discusses the home of Bilbo and then asks kids in groups to examine a pair of shoes and describe the person who they belong to. We tried to hold this discussion at dinner time and actually switched it up by talking about baseball caps but it didn't work as well as it might have if the activity were completed in a co-op, group, or classroom setting.
Our teen is also in the middle of reading The Hobbit so we haven't been able to complete some of the activities such as The Triple Textural Arc project. This project allows your child to discuss how the events in the story helped Bilbo grow. There is even a script to help you facilitate the discussion. I hope to complete this activity with our son when he is finished reading the book. It will provide a good way to review the exposition, conflict, action, climax, and resolution of The Hobbit.
What Are the Key Parts of the LitWits Kits?
- Sensory Prop Ideas
- Bookbites Ideas
- Creative Project Ideas & Instructions/Templates
- Kinetic Activity Ideas & Instructions/Prompts
- Academic Handouts
- Creative Writing Handouts
- Takeaway Topics
- Learning Links
- Audiovisual Links
- Common Core State Standards Alignment
Don't worry too much if you are not a fan of the Common Core. The Kits have links at the end that tell you how their activities are aligned with the standards. I did not feel that the idea of the Common Core standards was prevalent throughout the Kits. So if you are interested in how they align with the standards, you can click on the link or—if you have no interest—you can bypass this small section of the Kits.
How Did We Use the LitWits Kits?
As I said earlier, our son is in the middle of reading The Hobbit. Since he could not remember much of the story from his dad reading it to him when he was little, I asked him to draw a picture based upon what he remembered of the Tolkien's Lonely Mountain Project. This project is drawn from the 1937 dust jacket of The Hobbit and allows one to discuss perspective, illustrations of book covers, and more with your child. I thought, as our son likes to draw, this would be a good way to have him think about the story before and after he read the book. We will revisit the activity when he has completed reading the book and I will ask him to draw another picture.
Our younger children have heard part of the tale of The Hobbit and seen some of the movies so I thought it would be fun to have them complete the Elvish Sword with their brother. All three children enjoy being creative, painting with special silver paint, and using beads, buttons, and sequins to decorate their swords.
|Gathering the materials|
|Working on Elvish Swords|
Other Fun Activities
While we didn't get to use all the activities and ideas provided in the LitWits Kits, I would like to share a few more of the awesome ideas with you. For example, each of the three Kits we received has a section on food and refreshments. Using The Hobbit Kit, you could recreate Beorn's Feast or with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, children could enjoy peaches, bread, and lemonade (in the story they drink green lemonade in Emerald city).
Another fun activity from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz includes the Seeing Green project where children can create green-lenses glasses. This can help introduce the discussion of symbolization in the book. Over the years there has been a lot of speculation as just to what the different characters and things in the Frank L. Baum stories might represent (if they represent anything at all). This is a great topic for older children and even high school-aged kids who are studying the Gilded Age of America. The LitWits Kit offers an introduction and links to various views on the political interpretation of the story.
The final fun activity I want to share is one from The Journey to the Center of the Earth LitWits Kit. In the Stromboli Erupts project, kids build their own volcano to represent the one which helped propel the explorers back to the surface of the Earth. Our younger children really enjoyed putting together the volcano and watching it 'erupt.' We will probably do this activity again.
|Our Reenactment of Mount Stromboli|
What Did We Think?
I like that there are so many options for classic books and they are continuing to develop more through their workshops that will be released in the future. Click here if you want to see a list of 100+ book recommendations from LitWits.
Personally, I think the LitWits Kits would be a fantastic fit for families who have multiple children who are really close in age. One could then have several children read the story together and then use the Kit together as a family. With our children on the outside of the age range, I found it difficult to use the Kits to the fullest extent possible. I think that in a few years' time (when our two younger children are independently reading chapter books), we will be able to revisit the Kits again and more completely use all three of them. As we retain access to the Kits for the life of the company, I know I can return to them to access all the websites that the Kits have brought together for me.
Do You Want to Learn More?
With over 46 kits to choose from, be sure to check out the other reviews so you can see how other members of the Homeschool Review Crew used the LitWits Kits in their homeschool.