Friday, April 1, 2011

Homeschool Review: ZeeZok Publishing ZGuides - Kit Kittredge

As you know if you ever read my blog, we are thoroughly into the world of American Girls around here. We first used the historic books as part of our history curriculum when the girls were 5 and 6, they received their first American Girl dolls for their birthday a year ago . . . and so it goes.  So, when Brenda from the TOS Crew posted that we would get to choose which ZGuide from Zeezok Publishing we wanted to review, I happily signed up to review the ZGuide for Kit Kittredge: An American Girl.

Needless to say, the girls were excited to hear that we "had" to watch an American Girl movie for school. A wanted to know why we were watching Kit (L's favorite) and not Josefina (A's favorite), but since they haven't made a movie for Josefina, she was just being silly.

I originally saw the Kit ZGuide listed as being for Elementary/Middle School, but when we received the actual guide it was listed for Junior High. I do think the level of this guide, vocabulary and language used, etc. is more of a Junior High level. And I question whether Junior High age girls would still be interested enough in American Girls to spend several days studying one of the movies, but we were able to adapt it to A and L's level without too much trouble.

The ZGuide is a downloadable .pdf file (also available as a CD, either version is $12.99 per guide), it includes a topic overview and synopsis of the movie, followed by 10 activities that take various learning styles into consideration as they use the movie to learn about critical thinking,  the period of history that the movie is set in (the Great Depression, in this case), some basics of movie-making, etc.  Note that the movie is not included, you will need to purchase or rent the movie to use this product. We were able to borrow the Kit movie from the library.

Very little, if any, teacher preparation is required. At a Junior High level, a parent/teacher could probably hand the guide to the student (minus the answer key in the back), and turn them lose. Since my girls are younger, we watched the video together, and did most of the activities together, orally. They aren't to a place where I am comfortable turning them loose to research things online, on their own, and while they can read quite well, they both lean toward being auditory learners, so prefer to be read to, and for us to discuss things orally. A couple of the activities I felt would be over their heads so we skipped them.

All in all, they had fun. Nothing like getting to watch a favorite video over and over. They thought it was cool to learn about things like foreshadowing, irony, the use of lighting and colors in movies, etc. And after we discussed it, point it out in other shows we watch. They also had great fun decoding "hobo signs".

We enjoyed using this product. In general, I would recommend it more for homeschoolers who lean more toward workbooks and more traditional schooling methods than we do. I can also see this being useful for junior high students during a busy season of homeschooling when the mother needs to be able to turn the student loose with something.

Disclaimer: We received the downloadable version of the Kit Kittredge Zguide in exchange for writing this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

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