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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Z-Guides to the Movies- Johnny Tremain

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Zeezok Publishing was established in 2003 and they strive to " to provide quality literature and educational books for use in training the next generation" because they "believe it is better to build children than to repair men".   To that end, they have a series called Z-Guides which are meant to be used to incorporate media (specifically movies) into any curriculum.  Currently, there are dozens of Z-Guides available for movies across the spectrum of topics and age ranges.  Twenty five more Z-Guides are set to be released this spring.

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, and many of the activities cannot be answered by watching the movie, so the student is forced to research the topic for themselves and not just accept what they have seen as truth.

The guide we received was for Johnny Tremain, and is geared toward Middle School.  It deals with topics like the events leading up to the American Revolution, dealing with false accusations, handling disappointment, and self-sacrificing for the greater good.  There were lots of historically focused activities regarding some of the main characters in the movie, a memorization option, questions regarding where the events took place, and even some coloring sheets for artistic students (or for younger siblings).  There are 10 main activities, and they are meant to be done 2 a day over the course of a week, but of course, that is entirely up to you. 

The pros:  We live in a day and age where media is part of our children's lives, and the Z-Guides allow you to incorporate many of the wonderful movies that are available in the way you always wanted to...if you only had the time to preview every movie and come up with all the activities yourself.  But since you don't, the Z-Guides do it for you!  These guides really bring out all the educational aspects of the movies.  My kids especially enjoyed learning more about James Otis and some of the more thought provoking questions like discussing whether Johnny "deserved" his injury because of breaking the Sabbath. 

The cons:  There isn't one for every movie!  Really.  That would be my "con".

The bottom line:  I really am thankful for Z-Guides.  They are well written and researched so that they bring out the best educational opportunities in movies that supplement almost any course of study.  They are $12.99 each, so I will have to add to my collection on an as-needed basis, but it's definitely worth it to me to have someone else do the work I wish I could do to make the most of these movie resources. 

To check out all the different Z-Guides that are available, or to see other offerings from Zeezok Publishing, go HERE.  To see what other members of the Crew had to say, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free download of the Z-Guide for Johnny Tremain so that I could provide my honest review.  That e-product was the only compensation I received.
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