For my final The Old Schoolhouse Homeshool Review Crew curriculum review for 2019, I was sent a code to select four LitWits Kits of my choice to use with my children this year. These 30-40 page PDFs can be completely accessed online in web page form as well for a more interactive experience. The idea of the kits is to bring literature to life for students to make it more interesting and memorable! LitWits is geared toward kids ages 8-12, or roughly grades 3-6, but could easily be scaled up or down to be used by different age groups or the whole family all at once.
Before I get started telling you about how we used it, watch this short video about the program from the creators:
The 4 kits that I chose were for the following books:
You can access your purchased kits on the LitWits website at any time by logging in and looking in your account.
When you click on the words “Access my kit”, you are taken to a graphic-rich, easy to navigate website as you can see a sneak peek of below. From there, you can click on any of the numbers, 1-10, to be taken to that section of the website.
Each LitWits kit includes a Welcome section, Overview, Prop Ideas for your particular piece of literature, Hands-On Fun activities, Bookbites (which is where the creators have found a way to incorporate FOOD into your literature lessons!), Takeaways (which talk about specific topics covered in the book or character traits or some kind of lesson and includes ideas on how to discuss them with your group), Handouts that go along with the kit, Learning Links (with TONS of links to more information about the book and the author, as well as story supplements, as well as things that continue this type of learning and go beyond the book), Great Quotes taken directly from the book, and Copyright information.
You are also able to click on the print button in the top right to print the whole kit or to save it as a PDF file on your computer. You are also able to print each individual handout, template, and other activity resources as needed to complete activities from the kit.
When you’re just getting started, you might want some ideas on how to use the kit, and LitWits has you covered! As you can see below, there are a lot of easy ways to incorporate your literature-based studies into your normal day to get kids excited about the book.
We chose to work on the Charlotte’s Web LitWits Kit because my kids already know and love the book! The kits are written with children ages 8-12 in mind, but even my 5 year old enjoyed working through some of the activities and jumping into the discussions.
Heath and Ethan liked getting to act out some of their favorite characters for one of the activities. As you can see below, Heath is Templeton the rat and has a bit of an attitude! Ethan was excited to play the part of Wilbur the pig.
Another activity that my kids liked from this kit was the “One Bad Egg” exercise. If you recall, Templeton loved to find treasures and LOVED collecting eggs. Do you remember in the book when he found a ROTTEN egg? How gross, right? Well in this activity, I hid eggs for the kids. All but one had candy inside. One had a STINKY surprise and none of my kids wanted to find that one!
Something unique to these kits that I haven’t seen in other literature studies is the heavy encouragement to use props with students. There are a ton of suggestions, too, so kids can feel more like they’re a real part of their stories. There are a lot of pictures so you can have a really good idea of what they’re suggesting and that’s perfect for someone more visual like me.
The prop ideas are really specific, but can be tweaked a bit to fit your budget or ability to find them. Something I appreciate about this section is that they reference the part of the book that they’re trying to represent with the different props when you scroll your mouse over each picture. For example, in the kit for Around the World in Eighty Days, they suggest things like banknotes, cloves and pepper, Indian slippers, and even a globe among many others. In From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, they suggest props like a Hershey’s Almond bar and The New York Times. For Treasure Island, they suggest props such as tar and salt, pine branches and seashells, and rope and sand.
As you can see, having props readily available can get children in the mood to learn more about the books their reading by immersing them in the sights, sounds, and even flavors from the literature.
Another part of the kits that I liked and haven’t seen in other literature studies is the Takeaways section. For example, in the kit for Around the World in Eighty Days, the Takeaways mentioned are “Geography and British Colonialism” as well as “Honor”, which are discussed in more detail in this section. They show you how to relate this takeaway to the kit that you’re working through, as well as some talking points if you are wanting to go into more detail about this with your students.
It’s a great way to expand upon what is being read in the book and finding out how your students are looking at the information and relating it to the world around them. You could even pull from this further and create a mini unit study on the takeaways. I could see this branching off and turning into a study about geography easily, but what about a unit study on honor?
The kits themselves are secular, but if you wanted to put a Biblical spin on it, you could even pull in your favorite Bible verses and stories on honor and turn this into a deeper character study idea.
LitWits Kits are currently priced at $18 each as of November 2019. Each kit can be used by one family or by one classroom of up to 30 students. I think it would be perfect for homeschool co-ops or book clubs for elementary students. You’re able to make copies for your family or classroom and can use as much or as little of the kit as you would like.
The LitWits Kit for Little House in the Big Woods is available for free to view and use as a wonderful way to preview how LitWits Kits work.
I am hoping to be able to use one with my co-op in the future and will stretch it out to be a full semester book study. There is plenty of content available to keep students busy, and by incorporating different props, learning links, quotes, and more, each class period will be a different way for students to relate to the characters in the stories they are reading about.
These kits are a perfect way to dive deeper into a book to create a unit study. It goes well beyond the boring book club style of reading and answering questions. While LitWits Kits DO that, they go so much further and create a whole mood and atmosphere surrounding the book. They let students act out some of the different parts of the story. They have children trying foods and doing activities that were done in the book. They’re transformed to another place and time to be part of the story themselves.
I highly recommend these kits to anyone that wants to spruce up the literature part of your child’s language arts studies.
I think it would be perfect for students as young as 5 or 6 for many of the activities, and would likely be enjoyed by young teens as well! The range where you could use these is wide, which makes it great for whole families wanting to work on something together.
My suggestion would be to make the book a family read-aloud or to make in an audio book that you listen to together. Then, when you want to make sure your students understand what they’ve heard, do the activities together! Let older students help with the younger students, or have them work completely alongside each other.
Use this with your small classroom or co-op class for a change of pace from the usual book studies. I promise you won’t be disappointed, and you can take as much or as little time as you’d like to really dive into it for each book you are wanting to study. It is easily adaptable to be done in just a few sessions or as a weekly activity if you’d like. You could do it while in the middle of reading it or wait until the book is over. It is very flexible to be used in so many different ways.
There are many kits to choose from. Many other reviewers chose different books for their LitWits Kits ad I would love for you to see what those included and how their families used them. Do so by clicking on the banner below to read more reviews: