I don't know if it's the same for you, but one of the hardest things for me to plan is reading/literature. My son is past the decoding stage and has a great vocabulary, so I really want to focus on theme and story structure and literary elements. Unfortunately, a lot of the ready-made curriculum out there is heavy on worksheets and busy work, which is not what I'm looking for. After spending his early years doing lots of interesting, hands-on unit studies around good picture books, I want something that will continue to draw him into the story in an active way, and that's hard to find for older kids. Last year, though, I stumbled across LitWits Kits and we really enjoyed the two we tried! They included great activities and handouts designed to really make the kids think instead of just recalling details.
So what are LitWits Kits? They're PDFs you can purchase (prices range from $8-$12) that give you everything you need to "bring great books to life in sensory ways." If you live in the Bay Area, you can sign your child up to attend one of their workshops, but for the rest of us, they've included all the information and ideas you would need to put on your own workshop if you wanted, though most of us probably aren't going to go that far with it. If you are teaching a co-op class or have a book club, though, these kits would be perfect! Or, you can just use them at home with your own kids if you want, which is what I did.
There are plenty of titles to choose from, but the two we used were for The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Johnny Tremain. Both kits included background information, project ideas, and maps. They also included some handouts/worksheet-type materials that my son completed and we discussed. I liked that he did have some kind of written assignment, but it wasn't just mindless recall; he really had to put some thought into it and explored things like theme and narrative arc. He also liked getting to do the fun projects like he used to get to do with books when he was younger!
Most of the projects we did (like the tactile map of Boston in the picture) were from Johnny Tremain because I purchased The Witch of Blackbird Pond just to check it out while we were listening to the audio book. Even though only used the discussion materials with my son, I was fine with paying the money for the kit to get an idea of what was included and because I can use it with my daughter in a few years. I liked seeing the different sensory ideas and discussion points and although, as they point out on their page, these are things I could probably do on my own, I don't have the time to do this as thoroughly as they have and I'm happy to pay a few dollars to put their hard work to use!
If you don't want to purchase an entire kit, you can check out the free resources page that includes a great deal of information for each book with links on the author and story, the setting, and other topics discussed in the book. There are also different activity ideas, too! LitWits also has some really great Pinterest boards to go along with their titles, too, that you may want to check out.
As my son gets older I find it's much harder to find these kinds of hands-on experiences that we both have enjoyed, so I was so excited to find LitWits. If you are looking for a new way to explore great books I think you will enjoy LitWits, too!