Wednesday, November 20, 2019

LitWits Kits: A LitWits Review

Reading is the foundation for learning all sorts of things in life.  Connecting with good literature is a powerful force throughout your life.  To this day, I still get excited talking about some of my favorites like To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee or Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.  The characters and the messages from these books shaped parts of me.  Books are powerful! Today, I am reviewing a company that knows the importance of these meaningful books and are providing exciting ways to enhance a students connection with these books.  LitWits Kits from LitWits are designed to teach great books in fun and creative ways that leave an impression on students.  

What We Received:

We were given our choice of four LitWit Kits.  I chose The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Black Beauty.  Upon purchase, each kit is accessible through your account on LitWits' website, but entirely printable as well.  
Within every kit there are 9 sections:
Hands-On Fun

  • Welcome
  • Overview
  • Prop Ideas
  • Hands-On Fun
  • BookBites
  • Takeaways
  • Handouts
  • Learning Links
  • Great Quotes


How It Works:

LitWits began as a literature workshop where activities would happen all on one day.  For homeschooling, it makes sense to stretch them out over time as best suits your family's needs.  The idea behind all the activities is to do what the characters in the book did and understand what they felt and experienced.  This can be encouraged in a lot of different ways, which is what each kit provides - a spectrum of opportunities to connect with these books and characters.  Each kit suggests prop ideas to have something tangible to see and interact with that triggers thoughts about the text.  Hands-on Fun includes projects to make and Bookbites is food ideas to 'taste the story' with.  The handouts section is just what it sounds like, but I appreciated the well-thought out worksheets discussing things like Narrative Arc, Vocabulary and Creative Writing. At the end there is a section of links for further learning and exploration and a collection of the most famous quotes from each book.  Since there are many activities and further learning opportunities, the best way to approach using these kits is for you as the teacher to sit down and browse the entire kit and determine what is doable and useful based on age level and time constraints. A little or a lot still invites students to step into someone else's world and we can all agree there needs to be more of that in education.

Learning Links

How We Used It:

For this review we focused on A Little Princess, something that we as a family had never read.   My daughter (6) has been very into pretend and doll/stuffed animal play so she really enjoyed Sara's creative play and imagination.  We had fun talking about how much Sara's description of what her doll did when Sara wasn't looking sounded like Toy Story.  Because of that, dolls were our chosen prop for this book.  One of the themes that the kit focuses on is how much Sara chooses kindness and looks on the positive, possible side of life.  It is very much a skill that our culture doesn't practice or celebrate too much these days.  As a parent who wants my children to be thankful and content in ALL things, this story and the various activities gave much opportunity to reinforce gratefulness.

 We read the book over time and inserted activities when appropriate, but we could have read the book first and then spent time on the activities with equal benefit.  

 Sara's Splendid Sunset combined some fun arts and crafts element with a meaningful sentiment that surrounded Sara's positive outlook amidst her destitute circumstances. The three of us (my son 9 and daughter 6) worked on this project together and it was really fun to see where their enthusiasm was sparked.  My daughter loves using paper to create so she was excited to make a little Sara.  My son was all about the painting, but even stretched himself a bit by making curtains out of paper.

As I browsed through the other three kits we were given, it was so fun to see familiar stories highlighted in ways I wouldn't have thought about otherwise.  For example, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory brings to mind having a chocolate bar as a snack, but I wouldn't have considered making a cabbage and potato soup in order to understand just how extremely appealing chocolate and candy would have been to Charlie.  Sugar and sweet things are an every meal occurrence now so the contrast might be lost on some today. In the case of Black Beauty, I was not familiar with the author or her circumstances surrounding writing the book (having only a few months to live) and Litwits uses that fact to spur conversations about why that might be.  Straight to the heart of the matter is an approach I'm very fond of.  The Secret Garden, a story I have read and loved the movie(s), surprised me from the start with its simple creativity.  The first hands-on project is simply making a jump rope.  Making things out of what is available is also something that children can easily miss out on today because of convenience and excess of stuff.

With all of the open-ended aspects to this product, I was very impressed with the layout and thoughtfulness of the website.  They take every opportunity to encourage parents/teachers to utilize their product for the students' maximum benefit.  It is so nice to feel like you have a partner who wants your family's success too!

As a product and curriculum resource, I highly recommend LitWits and their kits that are packed FULL of some great teaching ideas.  With our culture in a bad habit of cutting off some of the truly important things in life like nature, gratefulness, appreciating animals and so many others, we need more educational activities like the ones found in LitWits Kits.

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LitWits offers kits for a ton of other favorite books.  Check out other Crew reviews below to see what other kits are like and what they thought of them!
LitWits Kits {LitWits Reviews}
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1 comment:

Becky and Jenny from LITWITS said...

Amy, thank you so much for this thoughtful and beautifully written review/recommendation. It's a joy to be "on the same page" with you, and your little ones - you DO have a partner who wants your family's success too! And by the way, we think the sunset and the little Sara and the pink curtains are AMAZING and can't wait to see how you all interpret whichever LitWits Kit you choose to do next. Thanks again, from the bottom of our hearts - and happy reading! --Becky and Jenny

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