Friday, April 1, 2011

Review: z-guides to the Movies

I have been anxiously awaiting the release of a new product from Zeezok Publishing every since I first heard they were working on this, which was while I was reviewing some of their music books last year. z-guides to the Movies is what so intrigued me.  These are primarily high school level guides to using various movies in your homeschooling.  I was thrilled to get the chance to receive the z-guide for The Count of Monte Cristo.

These z-guides are meant as a way of incorporating media into your curriculum, and they have guides available for a lot of great movies.  Amazing Grace.  The Hiding Place.  Flyboys.  One Night with the King.  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  And that's only scratching the surface.

According to Zeezok Publishing, the z-guides are all set up in a similar way, with an overview, movie synopsis and then ten activities that are intended to be completed at a pace of two per day.  Let me tell you a bit about this for The Count of Monte Cristo.

The first activity in each guide is questions meant to be answered as the student watches the film.  These questions are very fact-based (what did Napoleon give Dantes?) with some requiring a bit more attention to detail than others.

Other activities are common to all of the guides as well.  Each guide has a hands-on activity (ours involved creating a treasure, and a map to it).  Each has a Worldview activity -- in Monte Cristo, we got into some fascinating discussions about forgiveness, justice, and learning through suffering.  We also had some interesting discussions about addictions.  Each has a Filmmaker's Art section, which talks about things like foreshadowing and irony, and also about lighting and suspense.  Each also has family discussion questions which are pretty deep.

That covers four of the activities.  The other six vary between the guides.  In our case, the lengthiest of the activities involved researching Napoleon.  A great activity, but... well, it was activity #2.  If you follow the schedule, on the first day you are reading the overview and synopsis, then watching the movie and answering questions, and then spending hours researching Napoleon to answer questions like, "Why did Napoleon execute the defenders of Jaffa?"  We did not follow this schedule, and the Napoleon research activity was spread over the entire week.

Other activities included a word search (our least favorite activity), an activity where you are listing how you would spend a virtually limitless amount of money, and an activity where you are putting Dantes' plan in order.

My two absolute favorite activities we turned into huge discussions.  One had to do with consequences -- first with the characters, then talking about ourselves.  The other had to do with mentorship, encouraging Connor to both have a mentor and to be a mentor.

At $12.99 each, for either a CD or a downloadable ebook, these are affordable.  I'd love to include, well, at least all of the titles I listed above in our homeschooling.  At the very least, I am going to plan to incorporate one or two of these into our studies each year. There are two studies that are intended to be used for younger than high school age.  And while I'm usually a big fan of adapting pretty much anything, based on the high school study we did, I would not recommend trying to use it with most kids until they are teens.

You can check out what some of my fellow crewmates had to say at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive the z-guide for The Count of Monte Cristo from Zeezok Publishing.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

1 comment:

Merit Kirkpatrick said...

I really want one of each of these for next year :o) I am planning to include some in my Homeschool Curriculum budget that is certain!!!