If your student enjoys watching movies, we just made it easy for you to incorporate them into your curriculum. We have dozens of guides— each of them falling within a specific time in history. All of the guides contain ten educational activities that build upon the movie. The guides are movie specific. We tell you exactly which movie we used, and almost all are available thru Netflix. Most you can probably get through your local library. So you don’t even need to buy the movie to use our guides!
Each guide starts out with a topic overview. This overview provides the student with more information regarding the specific time period in which the movie is based. Next is a movie synopsis. The synopsis will assist the student in understanding what is going on in the movie and how relationships, situations, and events all relate together.
The first activity is always review questions. We recommend the student answer these as they watch the movie. We want to be sure they are paying attention and being an active learner versus a passive viewer.
The next several activities all build around the historical time of the movie. The questions in these activities may be more about the people or events that happened in the movie. These questions cannot be answered from watching the movie. (We all know you don’t get accurate facts from a Hollywood movie.) The student will learn research skills because he will need to use either the library or the internet to properly answer these questions. Some of the activities involve writing an essay. For example, in the Scarlet Pimpernel the student is asked to write a one page essay condemning or condoning the actions of the Scarlet Pimpernel. So the student is learning research and writing skills during the process.
Each guide also contains at least one hands-on activity, a worldview activity, and The Filmmaker’s Art activity. The hands-on activities for the active learner vary depending on the guide and include activities such as creating a treasure hunt, completing an art project, or planning and making a meal for the family.
The worldview activity helps the child to understand the movie’s worldview. This activity is not to impress on the student our personal worldview, but to get the student to think critically through what he believes and what is being presented in the movie. Family discussion questions also develop this critical thinking from the worldview promoted within your family.
The Filmmaker’s Art activity helps the student recognize the tools being used to influence the viewer. The various guides discuss how filming techniques, music, lighting, humor, character development, irony, foreshadowing, and even character names are used by the director and producer to influence the viewer to get their agenda across. We want the student to be able to discern not only the agenda of the movie, but also how they are being influenced by it. The goal is that when the student goes to the theater and watches Harry Potter or Avatar or Happy Feet, he walks out not thinking it was an entertaining movie, but understanding the bigger message behind each film.
We recommend the student completes two activities per day, taking a week to complete. Z-Guides are meant to supplement your current history curriculum. They are not intended to replace your core curriculum for history.
And yes, answers are provided for all of the questions. We tried to make it as easy as possible on you.
You can view a sample guide here.
We understand that each family has a different standard as to what they feel is appropriate to view in regards to language, violence and sexual content. Before purchasing a Z-Guide or movie we strongly recommend that you read a review on the movie. A good site is Plugged In. They offer a full review of hundreds of movies. The reviews include: positive elements, spiritual content, sexual content, violent content, crude and profane language and other negative elements.