Tuesday, November 19

LitWits {Review}

Y'all know that we LOVE schooling through literature!  When we had the opportunity to try out a few of the LitWits Kits from LitWits, we totally jumped at this.  The hardest part was figuring out which one to use first....

LitWits kits are literature-based unit studies.  Each is approximately 30-40 pages long and includes discussion questions, comprehension and vocabulary, hands-on projects, crafts, cooking projects, and more.  The idea behind them is that students are getting an in depth look at a subject or era, depending on the book selected.

When you purchase your LitWits Kits, they are yours to keep forever.  You can download the files, but also have the option of accessing them in your account online.  We chose to download the one we were currently using, including both the activity files and the printable worksheets, to have on-hand in case the internet went out.

Your kits stay in your account, and you can easily access them any time by clicking 'Access my kit.'  There are also links to ways to use, where you can get further ideas for that particular book, and kit reviews (to see how others have used that book). 

The kits include:

  • Prop Ideas - These are objects that will help bring the story to life for readers.  As our kitchen already looks too much like a school, we opted not to use any of the props ideas, but if you have a dedicated school room, they would be a nice addition to the unit.
  • Hands-On Fun - This section includes activities that range from building something to acting out a scene to hosting a discussion group.  Each kit has different activities, but there are usually about four of them.  As a teacher, this is one of my favorite sections because it helps to bring elements of the story to life.
  • BookBites - These are recipes that either have significance in the story or are culturally appropriate (based on setting).  For Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, we made a pan of cornbread and a pot of beans, as this is what Cassie and her Mama are often making to stretch their meager rations.
  • Takeaways - This section is about the bigger picture.  With younger children, it's easy to gloss through this section, but with older kids it definitely serves as a jumping off point for deeper discussions.  With some of the kits, be prepared to answer the uncomfortable questions.  This is a section where teaching values comes into play.
  • Handouts - Provided in a separate download, this is the written academic portion of the kit.  Story elements, writing practice, geography, and history are some of the pieces touched upon in these worksheets.
  • Learning Links - Including 'About the Author' and 'Story Supplements,' this is a collection of website links for further exploration.  There is also a link to a Pinterest board that relates to that specific book.
LitWits Kits for High School
The Tempest and The Hobbit are definitely good for high school, though they work for all; and because of advanced language and length, Treasure IslandAround the World in Eighty Daysand Journey to the Center of the Earth also straddle multiple grades levels. But having said that, many of these titles have teen protagonists whose stories are relatable to older kids, and/or circumstances that suit mature kids—for instance, Johnny TremainIsland of the Blue Dolphins, and The Circuit

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry LitWits Kit 
The story focuses on racial relations in Mississippi during the Reconstruction Era and into the Great Depression.  The Logan family struggles to navigate a racist society in 1930's Mississippi.  The children encounter racism and intolerance at the schools, in town, at local stores, and soon lynchings and hate crimes begin to occur.  Meanwhile, the Logan family tries to maintain their land and dignity through the difficult times.
This was a timely book, given the age of the boys and the current tensions and climate in America, so we took our time going through this kit as it sparked many lengthy discussions.  While it may be available to younger readers, I would recommend waiting until kids reach the double digits (ten and up) before tackling it due to the sensitive issues and some of the graphic descriptions in the book.  It's not something to shield our kids from, but something that parents should be aware of before beginning to read together.

We spent most of the review period on this kit.  We read the book aloud together as a family, and then went through the various elements of the kit.  We looked at current events to draw parallels between the 1933 of the book and modern-day America, and found that racism is still alive and thriving, though not always in the ways that people want to declare.  As part of the unit, we also cooked up a mess of beans, greens, and cornbread, which was super yummy!  

As part of this review, we also checked into:
  • The Hobbit LitWits Kit - This is one of the boys' favorite books, so it took us considerably less time to get through it as we had all recently read it.  Their favorite hands-on project here was making an elvish sword.  They took an old yardstick, shaped it, created a cardboard hilt, and painted it to look like one of the swords used in The Hobbit.
  • Around the World in 80 Days LitWits Kit - We did not get to this one during the review period, but a peek into the pages shows that it focuses heavily on world geography.  This would be a fantastic kit to use as the spine in a co-op setting for geography class!
  • The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - Another one that we haven't gotten to yet, but looking through it, the kit focuses on New York City and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  This would make a nice introduction to art through hands-on medium.  The cooking projects are all about perspective, and there are some geography and travel elements as well.
Around the World in 80 Days focuses heavily on geography and travel, especially during throughout the British empire.

The Hobbit teaches about Norse mythology and focuses on the character trait of courage.  The kids enjoyed designing Elvish Swords from this kit!

See what others are saying about LitWits Kits at the Homeschool Review Crew!
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1 comment:

  1. Aw Yvie thank you SO MUCH for this great review of our LitWits Kits! We're excited to be featured on your beautiful blog, and we appreciate the time you took to explain what we do. You picked a book with a lot of hard but important lessons, and we're glad we could helop make them memorable for your kids. Thanks for "getting" us! :)


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