Review: LitWits Kits

We HPs are a bookish family, and we have had lively discussions about and jumping off from books we've read as a family. The Hunger Games trilogy, for example, has led to countless talks (and sometimes--ehem-- lectures) about Dystopian and Utopian societies, dictatorship, martial law, the current Philippine political scene, morality and hard choices.

However, we adults aren't always able to read the books that the girls read, and I admit to often being at a loss when the girls ask us questions like, "Frank or Leo?" or "Why did Uriah leave?" The Hubby and I end up saying, "What are we talking about?" That's why the  LitWits Kits from LitWits is a great idea.

LitWits Kits (isn't that such a lovely thing to say several times fast?) are "experiential literature workshops for kids"and offer a smorgasbord of ideas that make the books and stories come alive. We use a literature-based curriculum, so I know the value of using stories to help deepen learning.

We chose four LitWits Kits for this review: The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Swallows and Amazons, and The Phantom Tollbooth, but are focusing on The Witch of Blackbird Pond for the moment, since this is one of the books that we are reading for Breeze's history.

You can access your kit online, which is recommended, since the kit also includes useful links, should you want to rabbit trail elsewhere (we did!). However, you can also print it out. As you scroll down, you will see the different components that make up each kit:

  • Props: to give a sense of the setting in the book, or to tangibly represent the theme or symbolism in the book.
  • Hands-on Fun: different activities and projects inspired by the book. For Witch, there's a race doing four common Puritan activities; making a hornbook; and creating a 3D landscape of the meadow.
  • BookBites: food eaten in the story. They recommend blueberry corncakes, like the one Hannah first served Kit.
  • Takeaways: key topics stemming from the book that you can discuss and explore. for Witch, the topics are dilemmas, colonial life, and being different.
  • Handouts: printable worksheets and answer keys.
  • Learning Links: links to additional information on the author, the book, and other fascinating information.
  • Great Quotes: link to quotes directly from the book.

The great thing about the LitWits Kits is that you aren't required to do everything--you can pick and choose what works for you and your kids. For example, these past weeks have been hectic, since I have been travelling more often, and since the girls are preparing for their portfolio presentation next week. I do not have time to look for the props, or prepare for the activities. I would love to do the race and the crafts activities should we study this book in our co-op book club.

Recommended props to set the mood

What did we end up doing? The Takeaways! As I said earlier, we love talking about books. I haven't read The Witch of Blackbird Pond in full, so I ask Breeze to narrate certain parts, and we discuss using the LitWits Kit guide questions. This is one thing I love the most about the kits, I think.

Sample of the Takeaway discussions

We also did the worksheets. One of them, the Narrative Arc activity, was perfect. Both Breeze and Raine are joining NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this November, and this was a very helpful guide for Breeze's own novel in progress.

Mini lesson on story arcs

One of Breeze's favorite parts though was the Learning Links. We checked out the punishments and laws during the Colonial times. She was so interested in the punishments that she actually changed her History portfolio project to a report on the different punishments given during that period. Yes, she's a bit morbid that way. Some of the links won't play here though, which is sad (BBC links). But otherwise, it's a great list of resources.

Raine requested the LitWits Kit for Swallows and Amazons, because it's a books she recently acquired. The creative writing exercise is also something I think she would appreciate since her imagination runs wild that way. She also requested Island of the Blue Dolphins, since that's one of her favorite books. But I think Breeze will love the constellation project and the astronomy links (the girls recently recreated constellations on their wall using glow-in-the-dark star). Finally, Raine has read The Phantom Tollbooth several times, and Breeze is starting to read it now. I'm actually looking forward to discussing wordplay (because both girls are so punny!) and doing the Facing the Dodecahedron project with them.

Other homeschool families have tried out different That's why the  LitWits Kits from LitWits (there are over 40!). Click below to read about their experiences.

LitWits Kits {LitWits Reviews}
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  1. From one “bookish family” to another, we’re glad to be on your page! Thanks, Ree, for this wonderful review, and especially for sharing your LitWitting experiences with us. We love to know how our kits are useful and how they can be improved (we’re working on those links as we speak) and hope we can join you on many more adventures in the months and years to come. Happy reading! Becky and Jenny

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