I've always loved being able to take a book and come up with activities for the children to do revolving around the book. I did so much of that when the older girls were preschool age. However, as they have gotten older, I have come upon two problems. One, I just don't have the time to organize such a feat. And two, I work much better with preschool age material, so trying to come up with activities for chapter books is not something I feel comfortable doing. So, I was quite excited when I learned about these LitWits Kits from LitWits.
So, what exactly are LitWits Kits?
They were created by two sisters, Becky and Jenny, who wanted children to experience books the way they did growing up, with enthusiasm while they immerse themselves in them. I loved reading about how their reading led them on so many adventures when they were children. So, back in 2010 they started holding literature workshops to help children have these kinds of experiences with books. They also made sure to connect the experience to teaching points. Thankfully they then went one step further and decided to make these activities available to children all over, through their online LitWits Kits. Each book they have held workshops for, has been made into a web page chock-full of activities and lessons. This isn't something you will get in the mail. The entire kit is the webpage which is filled with activities and links.
We were given access to four different LitWits Kits. Once I log into my account, I can choose one of the kits to work with. We focused on the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory LitWits Kit during the review period.
When I click over to the kit, this is the screen that welcomes us.
Each kit has the same format. You can scroll through the page, or click the menu bar to get to the section you want to focus on.
As you scroll you will see a Welcome and an Overview. These are about the same for each kit; however, it does tell specifically how many pages are included in the specific kit. There is also a link to a section that gives tips on how to use the kit.
Next we move on to the Prop Ideas section. There are multiple ways you can use the prop ideas that are suggested. You could bring out the different props when they are referenced in the book, or you could make a display of all of them. I chose to read the book to the children first, then I incorporated some of the props in our activities.
Willy Wonka's top hat could be seen on the table when we ate our Cabbage Soup for dinner.
And when the children invented their new candies.
We then spent some time browsing through the different prop ideas while I asked the children to explain the significance of the prop.
One of the suggestions was to have the children screw the toothpaste tube cap on and off 20 times. We made it into a competition, seeing who could do it fastest.
Poor Harold took the longest because he dropped the cap once.
Hannah did a great job.
So did Amelia.
But Tabitha zinged through it, beating them all. Sadly, she's still in the "don't you dare take my picture" phase.
We then discussed whether they would want to have to do that all day long. The unanimous consensus was NO!
Of course, there is a lot more to these kits than the prop ideas.
The next section is Hands On Fun.
There were three different imaginative ideas that we had a blast with.
First we did the Sweet Innovations project, where the children had to invent their own candy from several existing candies. We actually went to the store and I allowed the children to choose candies from the bulk section that they thought they would use. Then they placed theirs on their own paper plates. Another way to do this would be to buy a more limited selection and place them in bowls for everyone to choose from.
Here is Amelia's invention:
And this is Tabitha's:
And here is Harold's:
I'm sure I took a picture of Hannah's but I can't find it. I'm a bit upset.
But, anyway, they also had an "Invention Prototype Submission Form" to fill out. This is one of the great downloadable printable that are included with the kit.
The children and I were a bit confused as to why they needed to fill out "Deeskin Size" and their "Favorite Kind of Chocolate," but they went with it. The did wish there was room for more ingredients to be listed.
The next hands-on thing was an activity, not a project. They got to play a charades type game that helped them focus on the different characters. There were two sheets to print out, one with names from the book and one with random places throughout the world. Each child took turns drawing one of each and had to give one well-thought-out sentence to help the rest of us figure out who and where they were. If you know anything about the book (or either of the movies) you might be able to understand why they enjoyed imitating Veruca Salt, a girl who was so spoiled she got everything she demanded of her parents.
Finally, the children had one more hands-on project to complete. They were to complete the new design for the cover of their book. They had to design the title and then they got to paint the gears with watered down cocoa powder.
The next section is called Bookbites, and we were given the idea to make Cabbage Soup (as that is what Charlie and his family had to eat every day). There is also a download of a candy wrapper, but I chose not to use that at the time as I was trying to limit what I was printing out.
I admit, I sort of expected that there would be a recipe for us to make or a link to one that was recommended. Thankfully, it wasn't hard to Google a recipe for Charlie Bucket's Cabbage Soup. And boy, was it tasty.
We were very thankful we aren't as poor as the Bucket family and were able to have sandwiches with our soup.
The next section is called Takeaways can gives ideas of different things to discuss in relation to the book and how it relates to the projects we did.
Then there is a Handouts section. I appreciated the different language arts lessons the children were able to learn through these worksheets. We talked about the narrative arc, vocabulary, characterization, and had two different creative writing assignments. I thought the poetry was really fun, though the children struggled with coming up with couplets with eight syllables.
Then, in the Learning Links section we discovered some great information about the book and the author, some things to help supplement the story, and seven great links to help us go beyond the book.
Of course, we watched both the classic movie from the 1970's and the new version. I have to admit, I agree with the children that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka was a much better adaptation, though both left things out and added things (as is typical with any movie adaptation).
There is then a section with a link to some Great Quotes. The kit concludes with the Copyright and Kit Authors information.
As I mentioned, we also were given access to three other LitWits Kits. I had originally planned on primarily using the one for The Witch of Blackbird Pond with Tabitha. This is a book that she was scheduled to read with our core curriculum. Unfortunately, with all the other reading she has to do, she hasn't quite finished the book yet, so we haven't gotten to move on to the kit.
I really am looking forward to working on this one with all the children, even though they aren't reading the book, because we learned about colonial times during the beginning of our school year, so it will be a nice reference.
I'm especially looking forward to the Puritan Quadrathlon where we have to roll yarn into a ball, husk corn, stir cornmeal, and bind thatch. We're also going to get to make a Hornbook (a project we skipped earlier in the year and this one is actually more detailed) and do a craft of Hannah's Hideout. Plus the idea of the Hostess Corncakes is yummy.
The other two kits I chose were Heidi and The Secret Garden, both books I remember enjoying as a child.
Heidi includes two fun-looking projects: Goat's Milk Soap and an art project of the Swiss Alps that focuses on perspective. Then there is a really intriguing looking activity called Rottenmeier May I? (a version of Mother May I?)
The Secret Garden includes a planting activity and a collage art project. And of course we're going to want to have some tea and toast with marmalade.
I have to tell you, these LitWits Kits are awesome. I love the variety of the activities in each of them and how they relate so well with the books. We just love hands-on learning. But even the worksheets have been great. I can definitely recommend these for your family, so they can dig into books and marvel at all that can be learned and experienced through a book.
Don't forget to click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates thought of these great LitWits Kits. There were quite a few books to choose from, so I'm not going to list them here, but here's a small sample.