I have not been this excited about a literature unit study in a long time! LitWits was generous enough to give us four of their LitWits Kits to review. We love to read and we have used and enjoyed a variety of studies but this one fit our family perfectly. While I personally think it is important for students to occasionally analyze literature and learn how to really break it apart, I think it is far more important that they learn to enjoy reading and making connections with what they read. These kits did just that and as an added bonus to this busy mom, they were super easy to implement.
We were able to choose which titles we wanted from the 46 available titles. I was having a hard time choosing because there were so many wonderful titles, I ended up choose two and allowing my 6th and 8th graders to each choose a title. We chose The House of Sixty Fathers, My Side of the Mountain, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler, and All Creatures Great and Small.
We got started by using My Side of the Mountain as a family. I purchased the audio version of the book and we listened to it together before completing the activities that went along with the book. We had the extra benefit of listening to this on our way to a short family vacation in the mountains which tied in beautifully (but is certainly not required to make this unit study wonderful.) The study suggested that you use props to help the children connect to the story. I thought the actual mountain camp site made a great prop and loved how they were making connections to Sam’s adventures. They found Hemlock trees like he used to make his home, rocks for fire starting, wild edibles, a stream, and more. Then we adapted the prop process when we got home and I had them find and collect props that went with the story and share them with the family. They found some of our homemade jam to represent the jam that Sam made, rocks, leaves, sticks, and more. Even the five-year-old was excited to participate.
“Here’s one critical thing we do – or rather, don’t do – to make great books fun for kids: We don’t ask kids to read with assignments in mind.” From LitWit e-mail
Next, there were a list of hands on projects that could be completed to go along with the book. There was an idea for a poster to advertise the tree he lived in, an opportunity to make a clay pot, sketching on bark, and a play demonstrating the character of Sam. I decided to allow each of my older children to decide which of these projects they wanted to complete. My son and daughter both chose to make a pot like Sam made for his jam.
Then, together we made breakfast using their ideas that were based off of the book. We had cornmeal pancakes with blueberry jam and watered-down root beer that served as sassafras tea. I loved that they were not all that fond of the watered-down root beer but they realized that if they were not used to having so much sugar, it might taste better. It was a really fun way to connect with the book.
The LitWits Kits also contained a great list of links to help you take your study of topics from the book further. For example, there were links to falcon videos because of Sam’s falcon, links about some of the other animals he encountered, music links, and even links about the author. There were also downloadable worksheets that you could use to assess understanding of story line, vocabulary, and other aspects of the book. We chose not to use them with this book but may use them for some of the other titles.
All of these components combined to make a fun and enjoyable book study. Sometimes, when a study over analysis a book it can leave a student ready to be done with the book and move on. These fun and engaging activities had my children talking about the book and making connections throughout their day.
The kits for the other titles are set up in a very similar fashion. I am choosing to have my children independently do the title that they chose and then, after the holidays, I plan to use All Creatures Great and Small as a family study. I am excited about learning more about some of the veterinary topics as well as English culture and I know that my daughter will enjoy the chance to make hot tea and Yorkshire pudding.
LitWits Kits can make a great independent literature study but I think they are even more amazing as a family study. The opportunity for us all to share the same wonderful story and a variety of fun activities really fits into what I want our homeschool days to look like. I wish I had known about these kits years ago! be sure to click on the graphic below to check out the other titles reviewed by Crew Members!
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