Friday, April 1, 2011

Z-Guide to the Movies CD (Kit Kitteredge) - A Review

Product:  Z-Guide to the Movies CD for Kit Kitteredge

Price:   $12.99

Company:  Zeezok Publishing

Age Range:  Elementary - Junior High

Other Z-Guide Products are Available

Brief Intro: (from Zeezok)
"Each Z-Guide contains a topic overview, movie synopsis, and ten learning activities for an in-depth study of the film . . . The goal of the Z-Guide is not just supplemental educational activities for specific historical topics, but to also teach the viewer to think critically."

Topics Covered:
The Great Depression
Hobo Life

In-Depth Look:

When Zeezok asked which Z-guide I would like to review, I chose the one for American Girl's DVD of Kit Kitteredge. It was one of the guides geared towards the elementary age.  Plus the fact that I know my daughters love all of the American Girl movies.  So this would definitely be the one that interested them the most.

The Z-Guide comes with a 5-day schedule of suggested use.

The first thing we did was to read the "Topic Overview" as a group. I found this very interesting.  It sets up the time period of the movie.  Not so much what happens in the movie, but what is happening in "real-life" during this era.  In our case, the era of the Great Depression.  It explains a little about how it happened, with mentions of things such as Black Thursday.  Some detail about how the government, specifically F.D.R.'s New Deal, tried to improve the situation.  And some of the consequences that America, now a welfare nation, is still dealing with now.  I always enjoy reading a little about the "story surrounding a story".

Next, I read over the "Movie Synopsis". This tells a lot about the movie.  A whole lot.  And it does give away some of the twists and turns in the show.  Because my daughters have seen the movie a few times already, this wouldn't be a problem.  But if your children are watching the movie for the very first-time, use your own judgment as to how much you wish to reveal. 

Now it was time to watch the show.  It is such an awesome movie, centering on the importance of families sticking together and working as a team during difficult times.  A reminder that "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."  And boy, was the Great Depression ever a difficult time! 

Activity 1 is "Movie Review Questions".  Ours had 25 questions, with the instructions to answer the questions while watching the movie. The sheet includes instructions for scoring.  But I chose to read the questions out loud as we went along and had the girls answer orally.  After trying it that way, it wasn't a big hit for us.  We found it to be a distraction from the movie.  Had we never seen the movie, I think it would have been an even greater distraction.  Next time, I would do it this way.  Read the questions ahead of time.  Watch the movie through.  See how many questions the girls could remember the answers to.  Then maybe watch the movie again the next day, with the goal of answering the rest of the questions.

The Z-Guide includes 9 additional activities.  Pick one or pick them all.  I liked the variety, ranging from creative writing to family discussion questions to more in-depth research questions.  My favorite was the page of hobo signs.  After printing out a chart of some of the more common hobo signs, my girls deciphered the codes to read the messages.  Then they made their own "secret message" using some of the symbols that they had learned.  Rest assured, the guide includes an answer key.

We borrowed a few books about the Great Depression to continue our study.  Between the movie, the Z-Guide, and the books from the library, we have an awesome unit study going on.

I  think this is a really neat product.  Zeezok has several Z-Guides available to use with some really great movies.  Enjoy a great movie with your kids.  Then take it to another level with some great ideas and activities to get your creative juices flowing.  Gain greater insight into the history and time period of the show.  It makes the history come alive, with life lessons that you will value.

To read other reviews, click here

Disclaimer: I received this Z-Guide free of charge, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

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