TOS Crew: Zeezok Publishing

Zeezok Publishing, home of the Great Musicians series (reprints of Opal Wheeler’s biographies of famous composers, along with study guides and lapbooks) and more, have introduced a new product line: the Z-Guides to the movies! (Click the link to browse the titles.)

When the Crew was offered the opportunity to review any of the new Z-Guides, it was hard to choose just one. There are lots of choices, making it easy to find one or more to fit the historical period you’re studying.

What is a Z-Guide, you ask? It’s a way to incorporate movies into your homeschool studies, but rather than just watching and discussing the movie, you have your choice of activities, covering various subject areas. Z-Guides are available for different levels (Elementary, Middle School, and High School).

In our case, I finally settled on the Z-Guide to My Side of the Mountain, for several reasons. Our high school students are heavily involved in a history-literature-worldview class. Right now they’re in the middle of writing term papers, so it wasn’t the best time for them to engage in another study. Our middle school student struggles with academics. She doesn’t really like the “studying” part of school, so unit studies (such as this one) are a relief to us both.

Unfortunately, I chose the wrong movie. It turns out she hated My Side of the Mountain. I have fond memories of reading the book when I was younger, and I didn’t remember the movie at all. We didn’t have a copy of it in our library, so I bought the DVD to go along with our studies. If I had picked, say, Kitt Kittredge, things might have gone better. She really didn’t want to have anything to do with the study guide after seeing the movie.


Why did she hate the movie?

– Too different from the book. The boy in the book seemed older, for one thing. The boy in the movie seemed too young to do all he did.

– The girls were upset with the fact that the boy ran away, leaving only a note. They imagined how worried his family must have been, and saw him as immature and selfish.

– The falcon died. Middlest was incensed at this departure from the book. Not to mention all the sequels to the first book, in which Frightful the Falcon takes a part, are suddenly rendered useless.

– “Bando” was portrayed as a wandering musician, rather than a professor.

Of course, all these differences between the movie and the book made a good discussion of how movies almost always differ from the books from which they’re taken, and why some of the changes might have been made.

The Z-Guide for My Side of the Mountain contains a movie synopsis, ten activities, and a suggested five-day schedule if you’d like to devote a week to the unit. You can pick and choose from the activities, or add more activities to your study. For example, one of the activities in our Z-Guide was to design a wilderness shelter. This fits right in with our science topic for this term: Wilderness Survival (which includes using a GPS unit, first aid, orienteering, making a debris hut shelter, identifying hazards and edible wild foods, and more).

Other activities include researching peregrine falcons, planning a wilderness adventure (on paper, though I suppose you could go the extra mile and actually carry out the plan), a grammar worksheet, a speech to memorize (instead of assigning it as memory work, I used it as a springboard for discussion of the topic, civil disobedience), and more. A bonus activity word search puzzle is included, as well as movie comprehension questions and discussion questions.

The Z-guide also has an answer key for your convenience.

I plan to order one or more Z-guides next year, when we’ll be studying the Middle Ages. There are a number of movies to choose from, including one of Youngest’s favorites, The Adventures of Robin Hood. Since I already know she loves the movie, I’m pretty sure she’ll enjoy the unit study to go with it…

Zeezok Publishing’s Z-Guides are available for $12.99 each as PDF downloads, or on CD-Rom, from the publisher’s website (see link at top of this review).

Note from the publisher: Use of the guide is licensed to the original purchaser and is not to be resold. Permission is not granted for classroom, district-wide, school-wide, system-wide, or co-op use. You can contact Zeezok publishing for a site license.

Disclaimer: Members of the TOS Crew were given a free Z-Guide in PDF format for the purposes of review. No additional compensation was involved.


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