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Friday, April 1, 2011

Z Guide to the Movies: Kit Kittredge Review


Zeezok Publishing is a company that produces "distinctive materials for a well-rounded education".  I got a chance to review some of their Great Musicians Series books last year.  This year, they have come up with a new series of movie guides to help you incorporate movies into whatever curriculum you use.  Currently, most of them are geared for high school, but of the three middle school ones, we jumped at the chance to review the Kit Kittredge Z Guide.

Each Z Guide starts with a topic overview which gives historical insight and a movie summary that you read before watching the movie.  The first time you watch the movie, there are questions to answer as you watch.  After the movie, there are 9 other activities to complete.  They are interdisciplinary, and vary according to each specific guide, but each one has some sort of hands on activity, a worldview activity that inspires critical thinking, a film maker's art activity that talks about how the techniques used in making the movie impact the viewer, and a family discussion section for everyone to have the chance to weigh in.  Some guides ask the student to do some outside research, or feature memory work, or even public performance activities. 

In our case, the Kit Guide had us research the Great Depression using the internet or other resources, investigate Hobo signs and create some of our own, look up some depression related vocabulary, share Kit's passion for reporting by writing an article for a newspaper or by interviewing an older relative who might have lived through the Depression, create a presentation on 1930's fashion, a "Who am I" quiz, a literary study on irony and foreshadowing, a worldview discussion about pride and prejudice in the 1930s, and an activity that involved re-watching certain parts of the movie to examine the techniques the filmmaker used to create the mood he was looking for, and family discussion questions.

The Pros:  I LOVED this!!!  Zeezok has done all the work you always meant to do to get the most out of movies you might use to enhance your studies.  We didn't do all the activities, because we aren't really studying the Depression right now, but we did several of them, and the kids really enjoyed it.  Not only that, but just looking at the catalog of the other movie guides makes me want to watch them all- after I buy the guides first.  They are so complete and thorough, and the activities are fun- things I would never think of like putting together a 1930's fashion show (which is right up my daughter's alley).

The cons:  Currently, there are only 3 for middle school- the age level of my oldest learner- and we aren't studying those time periods right now.  I wish the middle school offerings were as comprehensive as the high school ones are (at least 25 movie guides currently).  At $12.99 each,  I wish they were a tad cheaper because I would love to own them all, but with all the research that has gone into them, I would say my time (or at least the time I would have spent doing all the research myself) is worth more than that.

The bottom line:  I love these guides!  I really really would like to own more of then, but I guess I will have to wait until my kids get a little older and I can justify buying them with my kids actually being old enough to use them ;-).  I will definitely keep Johnny Tremain and My Side of the Mountain (the other two middle school guides) in mind for when we get to those time periods.

To check out the rest of the Z Guides or any of Zeezok's other offerings, go HERE.  To see what other member of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free download of the Kit Kittredge Z Guide for the purpose of giving my honest review.  That guide was my only compensation.
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