The Water Hole Scavenger Hunt
Frankly, I was intrigued to learn that the designer of Whitt's Kits is a teacher and has youngsters for whom she actually created these kits - what a terrific idea to keep the kids occupied and get them interested and INVOLVED in their reading! The more involved you get the kids, the better the lesson is learned, and the longer they retain it, right? Each kit suggests an accompanying book that you may check out of the library (ah, free - my favorite kind of activity for homeschooling!) to provide the backbone information for the theme study and its activities.
Our Whitt's Kits review was done of The Water Hole Scavenger Hunt. There are also dinosaurs, pioneers, oceans, and shapes - but you get the idea! That's not all - there is a message board, mailing list, monthly drawings, Kit-a-Month Club, Lit Kits, free traveling buddies (stuffed animals), and even a shipping special for the New Hampshire History kits. These are handcrafted theme kits and literacy kits designed for classroom teachers, as well as those who homeschool!
Instead of taking untold hours researching all the activities you're planning for the kids, shopping the net and the school supply stores, and spending a good chunk of your funds like Carrie used to do, why not let Carrie do it for you while you spend that precious time with your child, knowing it's all prepared? Take your afternoon to make cookies and terrariums, enjoy your time together while they're growing up, and have the satisfaction of knowing that while you're doing these activities, the students you treasure are retaining the information much better having the involvement of all their senses, all the while staying "right on target" and further emphasizing the curriculum you've chosen so carefully.
Do your young children get bored or fidgety just reading a book? Let's get them into it! Boy, this hands-on approach must be very popular - we had a terrible time trying to find a copy of the accompanying book that was not checked out of our local library system! Did you know that the author, Grahame Base, is also the illustrator? He hid 10 animals within the drawings provided for the book, so your child can exercise their detective skills uncovering 100 animals while enjoying his artwork! Our children are difficult to please (do all parents feel that way, or is it just us?) and sometimes just plain skeptical, but as our Little Bit was initially tearing into - yes, I did say tearing into - the kit, she was exclaiming, "I like this..."
There are matching animal cards for the children to play card games together, match sets, and test their short-term memory. There are pictures of safari-type animals to titillate the imagination of your youngsters, and inspire them to create their own safari or jungle pictures. Many other activities are included as well, with the addition of crayons, markers, colored pencils, scissors, and glue. Energized little ones may color the paper plate in colors for the African plains and water holes, add the animals and bushes, stand them up against the plate with water, and presto - there's the watering hole diorama!
Here in southwest Florida near the Gulf, we have a perfect "watering hole" called the Six-Mile Cypress Slough Reserve, cared for by the Florida Department of Fish and Game. We took our children to explore there and many of the activities from Whitt's Kits were particularly relevant to the slough reserve's mini-ecosystem. There are several spots that are active water holes or past water holes slowly drying up. There were alligators; several different types of fish and dragonflies; woodsy critters such as squirrels, raccoons, and owls; and even a few snake species (ugh! Indigo snakes, cottonmouths, and such). What a perfect environment to display such an activity for the kids while listening intently for the quick rustle of the lizards in the underbrush and crackly leaves - the rubbings of the trees and such were a great source of merriment, giggling, and a few of the fern rubbings came out beautifully. Lightning had struck a cluster of nearby trees, and provided yet another subject of discussion. The older "kids" even had a blast trying to get the youngest to keep her eyes peeled for a giraffe or elephant - this idea didn't go over very well, as the youngest emphatically rolled her eyes and responded succinctly this everglades slough was "not a real African plain!"
Carrie's Whitt's Kits are on the Internet, and have lots of information for you and your little ones to check out. See their brand new unit about dinosaurs! The kids at our home can hardly wait to try it out! Right now, Carrie relates that the beautiful fall leaves in her New England state are changing into their gorgeous fall display (OK, kids, what causes that?). They will be drifting onto the ground soon, so look forward to perhaps another unit theme idea - you never know what she'll think to do a unit on next time! Have you begun collecting your maple, oak, and dogwood leaves for your botany display yet? So, what are you waiting for already? Call Carrie at Whitt's Kits and tell her a place nearby where you took your kids for their hike!
-- Product review by: Karen Houston, The Old Schoolhouseâ„¢ Magazine
Heading West: Life along the Oregon Trail
"My son Brennan was beside himself with joy. 'Oh, Claire, it is a cozy, cozy, cozy bear!'"
Do unit studies bring life to your homeschool? Interested in the Oregon Trail? Well, take a look at Carrie Whittemore's Whitt's Kits. As a classroom teacher, Carrie has developed thematic units and literature units for other classroom teachers, but these materials are perfect for the homeschool that thrives on unit studies. She has put together an organized and complete kit - all packaged in a sturdy, plastic container.
The guidebook for your study is a teacher's resource book that includes language arts, science, math, and arts and crafts ideas, as well as masters for worksheets, puzzles, and an excellent resource list that includes lists of books, videos, and websites.
When I brought the Heading West kit home to review, my children were automatically drawn to a colorful cloth bag that is also included in the kit. Early the next morning, I heard whispers downstairs and my two younger children were looking at this bag. They asked if they could open it, and I gave permission. Well, out popped a sweet and cuddly teddy bear. My son Brennan was beside himself with joy. "Oh, Claire, it is a cozy, cozy, cozy bear!" At the age of three, that may be the extent of his Heading West unit, but he is one satisfied customer. Ms. Whittemore has some unique ideas for using the "buddy" and you could certainly come up with your own. Other colorful features are a bulletin board border and lettering with a western theme, vocabulary cards and a covered wagon shape to use in making a classroom (or family, or co-op) book. If you only want the teacher's resource book, it can be purchased separately.
One of my favorite suggestions is a simulation activity. Students take identities of actual pioneers that traveled the Oregon Trail, assume their names, create journals, and work through the "daily predicaments" that are handed out. What a great way to see the hardships people suffered to be newcomers to the West.
There are other thematic units, and a whole series of literature units, offered by Whitt's Kits. Visit their website at www.whittskits.com to get an idea of what each unit includes. For a unit study on the Oregon Trail, Carrie Whittemore's Heading West unit is an investment that can save you hours of time and creative energy. That, plus a cozy, cozy, cozy bear, makes Heading West a trip worth taking.