ZeeZok – Learning through the Movies {TOS Review}

Although, we don’t watch much television, we are movie watchers at our home. Let me clarify, every Friday night is Family Movie Night in our home and we watch something as a family. Every once in a while, a silly movie might sneak into the bunch, but usually our movie choices include something that is going to leave our children with a lesson learned and an opportunity to open up discussion on certain topics. The downfall of being a homeschooler; mom is always looking for a learning experience in everything they do. On the flip side of that, a subject or activity can easily be fit into our school curriculum that one would not normally find in a traditional school.

I know that movie watching is not exactly something new in the classroom, but ZeeZok Publishing has combined movie watching, history and social studies, and fun all into one educational package by incorporating all of these aspects and coming up with a unique product called a Z-Guide (a.k.a. Z-Guides to the Movies).

What’s It About?
Z-Guides are educational resource guides that walk a student through a historical period in time using a movie and ten activities that “build upon the movie.” The guide begins with a topic overview which gives the student insight into the historical period that is covered in the movie. It is followed with a synopsis so the student will be somewhat familiar with the storyline and be able to better understand how the storyline, the characters, and the theme of the movie all come together. The lesson plan is set up with two activities to cover each day over a five-day period that focus on such academic skills as research skills, writing skills, critical thinking, and art.

The Product
We reviewed the elementary (also available for high school) Z-Guide for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington which is part of the Great Depression timeline series. The elementary Z-Guide for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is prepared for students in the elementary grades, but would also be challenging for students through the 7th or 8th grades. You can take a look at the current listing of available Z-Guides. There are also more than 15 timeline periods to choose from which include Ancient Rome, 19th Century Europe, The Roaring Twenties, and World War II just to name a few. You can also view a sample guide to gain an idea of how the study is presented.

For the Student
The student has (if he or she needs one) an excuse to watch a movie and the bonus is even if he finds the content a little boring, then the activities that are included in the Z- Guide may cause his interest to return.

The student has an opportunity to see the true value in a movie as being something more than just entertainment and may start looking at future films with a more critical eye. Ex: We enjoyed the movie Cars, but what was the director truly trying to say to the audience? Hmm…Don’t worry, movie watching will still be fun after completing a Z-Guide.

For the Teacher
ZeeZok Publishers has prepared everything for the teacher. Although there is definitely teacher involvement required, each day of the five-day activity schedule is planned including at least two activities for the day. The suggested schedule is just that “suggested” and can be adapted to accommodate your daily homeschool schedule.

The synopsis and topic overview are both helpful sections and offer enough information for the student whether or not the historical period presented in the movie is being covered in class. So, you can present the movie and also give the student enough background for everything to make sense.

My Thoughts
Fortunately, my children are in the habit of watching old movies (anything released before 1980 :-)), so they were not thrown off by this old black and white film. The Z-Guide allowed us to dig a little deeper into this film. They enjoyed the movie and the activities and I enjoyed the writing assignments. Since we are doing more writing in school, I like that the guide presents many writing activities for the student like writing a newspaper article and writing a letter to your senator. I also enjoyed going through activities nine (worldview focus) and ten (critical thinking) and covering the questions for family discussion because it gave me chance to see how my children are thinking. If you are not already familiar with the story-line of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, then you should learn more to share with your children especially as we enter a new presidential election year.

Also, my children gained practice gathering information (research skills) so they could answer some of the questions presented in the Z-Guide.

I like that they use movies that are usually available through the public library or can be found through resources like Netflix or even a few may be found online as part of the public domain and can be found through Internet searches.

Pricing and Availability

ZG Web site Buy Now! Like ZG on Facebook Find ZG on YuoTube

The Z-Guides are currently available as an E-book for instant download or on a CD with a single license for $12.99 (add shipping for CD purchase) or co-op/classroom licenses can be purchased for larger groups starting at $49.99. Along with the Z-Guide, the DVD version of the movie can also be purchased separately for each guide they offer.

You can read more reviews of this item by fellow crew members on The Homeschool Crew Blog.

The product featured in this review was provided to me free of cost by the manufacturer or representing PR agency as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.
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